Review: Relax, Dammit! A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety

Relax, Dammit

“Decision-making is a complex, messy activity that can lead to significant stress. But it doesn’t have to. One of the goals of this book is to remind us not to fall prey to the numerous social forces that increasingly turn making a decision into an unnecessarily anxious process.”

When I first saw Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety by Timothy Caulfield I was very excited to read it. As someone who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis, I was looking forward to reading about how to mitigate stress and live a more carefree lifestyle. However, that’s not what I took away from this book. While it wasn’t what I expected I appreciated the amount of research that went into this book, and know many left-brained people who would love it.

This book is structured the same as someone’s daily routine: 6:30AM – Wake Up, 7AM – Breakfast, 7:50AM – Get to Work, 12PM – Lunch, 2PM – Another Coffee?, and so on. It walks you through many of the normal decisions you’d make on a daily basis, and why they do or do not matter.

Yes, drinking multiple coffees a day is fine. Yes, statistically, your kids are fine walking to school by themselves (you’re more likely to get in an accident driving them). No, you shouldn’t look at your phone first thing in the morning or before bed.

The author did an incredible amount of research and interviewed countless experts on all of these topics to get their opinions and outline the facts. So, logically, you don’t need to worry about most things, and ideally, once you know that, you should be more relaxed and less stressed. If only everyone’s anxiety worked that way!

For me, and I’m sure many others, my anxiety is rooted in feelings and emotion, and no amount of logic is going to change my mind. I understand that, statistically, I don’t need to worry about a lot of things that I worry about, but my anxiety brain does not care and will continue to spiral. I’ve been working on this for years with my therapist and wish a logical approach would work.

Even though this book wasn’t for me, I did appreciate the amount of research, loved the way it was structured, and laughed at many of the jokes throughout. If you’re looking for something filled with endless “fun facts” I’d suggest picking this one up.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, for a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley. Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety by Timothy Caulfield came out on December 1, 2020, and is available wherever books are sold.

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