3 out of 4 stars
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Anxiety is an issue that plagues everyone from time to time, and for some it can be so crushing that even getting out of bed, talking to people or leaving the house can be a huge undertaking. When I was 17, I actually dropped out of high school due to issues that stemmed from anxiety - I was so nervous about going to school that I was frequently sick and even put on medication for manic depression. While I've done a pretty great job of turning myself around since then (if I do say so myself), I still do suffer from some anxieties, so I was interested in Elisabetta Reist's Releasing Anxiety, Inviting Peace.
The first thing that really struck me was that the first chapter actually takes the time to validate the reader's feelings of stress. I was surprised at how nice of an effect that could have as I was starting out with the book. It was also great to learn that she herself suffered from major anxiety when she was 16, even going so far as to say that her physician couldn't help her and her parents played it off as something she would just laugh about years later. The story ends up making the book much more relatable and genuine, as Elisabetta isn't just some random person talking about anxiety without having ever felt it herself. She then goes on to explain what anxiety is and gives brief overviews on different methods of relieving it. Elisabetta focuses on both psychological methods (including increasing your self-esteem, meditating, utilizing mantras) and physical (becoming healthier through a better diet and exercise, for example). There are a bunch of different methods, techniques, practices and courses that are touched on in the book, and it manages to give enough information about them to inspire further research into them if they sound interesting without dragging the book out far too long. Overall it felt very well researched, and I was amazed at just how much I'd never heard about.
My biggest surprise with the book was just how much of it was dedicated to diet. The PDF I reviewed was 105 pages (not including the introduction), and over 50 of those pages dealt with food and drink. While this certainly isn't a bad thing - I did a bit of my own research and was surprised at how much food can affect anxiety - and the book does focus on health, not weight loss, I felt the book could have somehow included diet in the title or even as a subtitle. I've dieted in the past to lose weight, and as such I've done a bunch of research on food, so very little of this section was new to me. As with the rest of the book, I was surprised at how well researched it was, but was a little put off by the spicy food chapter. I suppose people really can get anxiety from the effects of heat, but the chapter's suggestion was to use black sesame seeds. More than once Elisabetta mentions that they have a bit of a sweet taste to them, which definitely wouldn't hit the spot for a spicy food lover like me. While black sesame seeds may have made an excellent suggestion in another chapter, it was oddly out of place here.
The only real flaw I had with the book was the hit-and-miss editing. I didn't notice a single issue with the food chapters, but the chapters before and after them had semi-frequent errors, sometimes resulting in sentences that I needed to read multiple times to understand.
Releasing Anxiety, Inviting Peace is a book I was a bit surprised by at times and enjoyed overall - particularly the early sections that delivered methods of de-stressing with meditation and mind exercises. I'm giving the book 3 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who suffers from anxiety attacks or who avoids doing things because of low self-esteem or anxiety. This suggestion comes with the caveat that you're also willing to change your diet, however, as it's a major portion of the book.
Releasing Anxiety, Inviting Peace
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