The new self-help books for the road 2022 tested by Stylist.


Road tested by Meena Alexander, Feature Editor

Why did you want to try it?
If there’s one trait that I covet above all else, it’s resilience; feeling mentally well equipped to deal with whatever life throws at me, or at least tackle it without collapsing into a pile of dust (I’m looking at you, lock three). The slogan of this book therefore immediately seduced: everyday tools for the ups and downs of life. It promised practicality rather than the dull musings that often pass for advice in self-help books. And luckily, he kept his promise.

What’s in the book?
The book is very useful, the kind of thing I want to hand over to my friends and family, especially those who have been feeling mentally exhausted in the past couple of years. In it, Dr. Julie Smith shares ideas and life skills that most therapists charge in the hundreds; strategies for dealing with everything from stress and exhaustion to grief and the singular anxieties brought on by social media.

I liked how the book’s layout takes into account the fact that readers may not be in the mindset to wade through dense text: at the end of each chapter, a box of bullets lists the words. main points to remember. There are also exercises to help you spot specific issues, from space for pro and con lists to hard questions to ponder (“If no one knew how you spent your time, how would you spend it?” “).

Any useful things you learned?
I would dive into it as I liked: one day I was feeling depressed and lacking in energy, so I turned to the ‘Motivation’ chapter. In a section called “How do you force yourself to do something when you don’t want to?” »Smith succinctly collapses WhyNeurologically, we resist the effort to do something new: forming new neural pathways just isn’t energy efficient, it’s exhausting.

It’s nuggets like these that help almost more than advice – there are reasonable explanations for my feelings; I’m not “lazy” or “bad” – just human. But then she suggests ways to incorporate mini rewards, doses of dopamine to balance effort, that make intimidating tasks more manageable for our brain and therefore for us. Suddenly little things I hadn’t thought of – like listening to a favorite song after completing a task – take me through my to-do list.

If you’re someone like me who responds well to hard facts and practical advice, this book is a gold mine. I really treat it like a textbook now – when I get an uncomfortable feeling or come across an awkward moment at work or in my relationships, my first thought is to ask myself what Smith might be suggesting. It’s not a replacement for IRL therapy, but it’s pretty darn close (released Jan.6).

Shop Why hasn’t anyone told me that before? by Dr Julie Smith (Penguin) at the bookstore, £ 14.99


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