Tackling Anxiety

My research topic will be on learning how to overcome anxiety, as well as including different strategies that can help individuals who struggle with this. I’m choosing this topic because anxiety is something I personally have to deal with daily and so I want to do more research on it. 

The first journal article I chose is titled Self-Help Interventions for Anxiety Disorders: An Overview by authors Pim Cuijpers and Josien Schuurmans. This article gives background information on how anxiety can be seen as an impairment to one’s quality of life. While many people do not seek help, others either cannot afford to or are put off by long waiting periods. However there are other methods to help yourself in this situation such as trying different self-help interventions. “A self-help intervention can be defined as a psychological treatment in which the patient takes home a standardized psychological treatment protocol and works through it more or less independently”. This treatment protocol can come in the form of a book, CD, audio recording, and other types of media. “Most self-help interventions for anxiety disorders are based on cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as exposure, cognitive restructuring, and applied relaxation”. Strategies such as psychoeducation, relaxation, graded exposure, cognitive restructuring, anxiety management, and other techniques have been proven to be beneficial.

The second article titled “The Role of Self-help in the Treatment of Mild Anxiety Disorders in Young People: An Evidence-based Review” by authors Debra Rickwood and Sally Bradford, introduces what anxiety is and how if left untreated, the anxiety can worsen and develop into other mental health problems. “The accepted evidence-based approach in the treatment of anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which challenges and tries to change negative or irrational thinking and behavior patterns”. This article also discusses different types of self-help interventions (psychoeducation, somatic management skills training, cognitive restructuring, exposure, and relapse prevention) that would be helpful in reducing anxiety. This article also includes various case studies that back their findings. 

The third article titled “How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?” by Christopher Bergland, discusses and examines how meditation affects your brain, specifically “which areas of the brain are activated and which are deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief”. A study was also used to back their findings on this topic. In this article, mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation are the two “types of meditation that have been proven to change brain structure and have dramatic physical and psychological benefits”.

My next source is a book I recently ordered, that will hopefully provide me with more information on this topic. Anxiety Happens: 52 Ways to Find Peace of Mind by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert, includes 52 strategies (1 for each week in the year) that help you deal with anxiety through acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This book discusses “the underlying causes of your anxiety, why avoidance just doesn’t work, how to move past your negative inner voice, and how focusing on your values can help you move past anxiety and live a rich, meaningful life”. To me this book brings in the holistic approach I’ve been missing for this topic. What really drew me into this book was that it is listed as an Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Book Recommendation, meaning it incorporates scientifically tested strategies that help one overcome mental health issues. 


Bergland, Christopher. “How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 7 June 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201306/how-does-meditation-reduce-anxiety-neural-level. 

Cuijpers, Pim, and Josien Schuurmans. Self-Help Interventions for Anxiety Disorders: An Overview, Current Psychiatry Reports, 2007, link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11920-007-0034-6.pdf. 

Forsyth, John P., and Georg H. Eifert. Anxiety Happens: 52 Ways to Find Peace of Mind. New Harbinger Publications, Inc, 2018. 

Rickwood, Debra, and Sally Bradford. “The Role of Self-Help in the Treatment of Mild Anxiety Disorders in Young People: an Evidence-Based Review.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, Dove Medical Press, 27 Feb. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3304342/. 

Examining & Overcoming Anxiety

My research topic will be on tackling anxiety through self-help, and also reviewing the positive and negative effects of it. Being someone who struggles with social anxiety, I found that meditating over the past two weeks had helped me work through one of my fears– presenting (although I still have to continue to test this out). I’m still doing nightly meditations to see what other areas of myself I can improve on. However I do recognize that many people with anxiety cannot find the peace they are truly seeking. I’m hoping to explore how mindfulness/ meditation may be beneficial or harmful to one’s mental health, and how to actually help those that don’t find a away to completely remove, or at least slightly lessen, their anxiety.

I found a couple of articles that I’m hoping to incorporate pieces of in this research project. The first article titled “The Role of Self-help in the Treatment of Mild Anxiety Disorders in Young People: An Evidence-based Review”, introduces what anxiety is and discusses different types of self-help interventions that may be helpful in reducing anxiety. This article also includes different case studies that back their findings. 

The second article titled “How to Meditate with Anxiety” does just as its name suggests. Here you’ll find tips on how to fully dive into meditation. It also introduces Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which is similar to another topic (MSBR- Mindfulness-based stress reduction) we briefly read about and discussed for class through the 3 mindfulness articles. 

The third article titled “How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?”, examines how meditation affects your brain, specifically “which areas of the brain are activated and which are deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief”. A study was also developed in order to back their findings. Another similar article I found that also looks at how your brain waves change before and after meditation is titled “The Many Benefits of Meditation for Anxiety, How It Helps”. 

The next two articles explore the negative effects meditation could have on those who suffer from anxiety. The article titled “7 Surprising Ways Meditating Could Be Hurting You” just gives brief reasons and descriptions as to how people can be negatively impacted, which will help me further my findings as I do more research on these specific issues.

The last article titled “Meditation Might Not Be a Good Fit for Everyone—Here’s Why” talks about a woman named Eva who suffers from severe anxiety and didn’t find the meditation app she downloaded to be useful for her at all. The app actually ended up worsening how she normally felt, which is not uncommon for those who consistently suppress their feelings or those who suffer from intrusive thoughts. Learning how to meditate can be too overwhelming since you have to face your issue head on. But this article also includes how someone like Eva, may be able to slowly work up to meditation or any other mindfulness technique.


Bergland, Christopher. “How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 7 June 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201306/how-does-meditation-reduce-anxiety-neural-level.

Greenwood, Chelsea. “7 Surprising Ways Meditating Could Be Hurting You.” Insider, Insider, 21 Mar. 2018, www.insider.com/why-meditation-can-be-bad-2018-3#1-it-may-prompt-negative-thinking-1.

“The Many Benefits of Meditation for Anxiety, How It Helps.” The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Anxiety, EOC Institute, eocinstitute.org/meditation/8-reasons-meditation-best-natural-anxiety-relief-technique/?9826714z3y5.

Rickwood, Debra, and Sally Bradford. “The Role of Self-Help in the Treatment of Mild Anxiety Disorders in Young People: an Evidence-Based Review.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, Dove Medical Press, 27 Feb. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3304342/.

Ries, Julia. “Meditation Might Not Be a Good Fit for Everyone-Here’s Why.” Well+Good, Well+Good, 5 Dec. 2019, www.wellandgood.com/meditation-side-effects/.

Staff, Mindful. “How to Meditate with Anxiety.” Mindful, Mindful, 16 May 2020, www.mindful.org/mindfulness-meditation-anxiety/.



Self-Help Critiques

The three articles I chose when speaking on self-help critiques focus on those who struggle with mental health issues, and how they aren’t truly being helped. 

In the first article, “5 Problems with the Self-Help Industry”, Mark Manson does just as you may have thought, he sheds light on the 5 major issues within this multi-billion dollar industry. The 5 problems are as follows:

1.) “Self-help reinforces perceptions of inferiority and shame”. With this first issue, Manson points out the two types of people that are into self-help– those who think they’re flawed and want to improve themselves, and those who see themselves as already good individuals but that can be a little better. Someone who only wants to better themselves a little more will take what is said in these books and try to apply it to their lives. Someone who believes they’re flawed may be harder on themselves and will heavily rely on someone else to tell them what to do. The only way to really benefit is to first “accept yourself as a good person who makes mistakes”.

2.) “Self-help is often yet another form of avoidance”. Manson believes self-help fails to help those with feelings of shame, anxiety/ neuroticism.

3.) “Self-help marketing creates unrealistic expectations”. People are taught to suppress their negative feelings. More use of relaxation techniques create short term feelings of accomplishment/ improvement for individuals.

4.) “Self-help is (usually) not scientifically validated”. This industry is very market-driven not so much peer-reviewed. Here he points out practices that have scientific backings such as “meditation/ mindfulness, keeping a journal, stating what you’re grateful for each day, being charitable and giving to others”. 

5.) “Self-help is a contradiction”. Self-help means it must be reached on your own. The main message of this is no one can help you better than yourself– everyone’s lives are different. What may work for one person, may not work for you. You just have to slowly make improvements and not be so hard on yourself.

The second article, “Improving Ourselves to Death”, by Alexandra Shwartz name drops a lot of  popular apps and books that are used nowadays. While doing this, Shwartz also points out, “It’s no longer enough to imagine our way to a better state of body or mind. We must now chart our progress, count our steps, log our sleep rhythms, tweak our diets, record our negative thoughts—then analyze the data, recalibrate, and repeat”. For some people this might prove beneficial, but to most it isn’t. Another problem within the self-help industry is sometimes the expectations are set too high, and there is no need for that.

The last article titled “The Problem With the Self-Help Movement” by Ray Williams speaks about the industry gaining more popularity when individuals are going through distress or turmoil in their lives. Williams speaks on the same problems as Manson and Shwartz, results from many of these self-help books are short-term, making it so that you always come back to these texts or try finding another text that can help you, and majority of the sources aren’t credible.


Manson, Mark. “5 Problems with the Self-Help Industry.” Mark Manson, Mark Manson, 16 Apr. 2021, markmanson.net/self-help. 

Schwartz, Alexandra. “Improving Ourselves to Death.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2018, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/improving-ourselves-to-death. 

Williams, Ray. “The Problem With the Self-Help Movement.” Medium, Medium, 7 Oct. 2019, raybwilliams.medium.com/the-problem-with-the-self-help-movement-ab972ef58728. 


Self-Help Critiques-2


Mindfulness & Its Critiques

Mindfulness is defined as being aware or conscious of something. These three articles explores mindfulness in different ways. In the article “The Mindfulness Revolution” by Kate Pickert, Pickert speaks about taking an eight-week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) course. Pickert chose this course in order to alleviate stressors in her life. For her, just like countless other people, it’s hard to disconnect or take breaks from technology. The MBSR course she was in helped her become more aware of her surroundings and pushed her to be on her phone less. Other students in her class also had good experiences with altering their normal routines in order to be fully present, and they picked up on things that they usually never noticed with the different practices of meditation they put into action.

“The Mindfulness Conspiracy” by Ronald Purser discusses how big the 4 billion-dollar industry of mindfulness is. Although it is a practice that aims to maximize your well-being and mental health, many people try to profit off of it whether it be through classes, books, apps, etc. Another problem Purser finds with mindfulness being a big industry is, “We are told that if we practice mindfulness, and get our individual lives in order, we can be happy and secure. It is therefore implied that stable employment, home ownership, social mobility, career success and equality will naturally follow. We are also promised that we can gain self-mastery, controlling our minds and emotions so we can thrive and flourish amid the vagaries of capitalism.” This is known as cruel optimism.

“The Problem of Mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake is about why mindfulness is such a popular practice. Ratnayake states, “… Jon Kabat-Zinn, a founding father of the contemporary mindfulness movement, claims that mindfulness ‘will not conflict with any beliefs … – religious or for that matter scientific – nor is it trying to sell you anything, especially not a belief system or ideology’. As well as relieving stress, Kabat-Zinn and his followers claim that mindfulness practices can help with alleviating physical pain, treat mental illness, boost productivity and creativity, and help us understand our ‘true’ selves. Mindfulness has become something of a one-size-fits-all response for a host of modern ills – something ideologically innocent that fits easily into anyone’s life, regardless of background, beliefs or values.” Ratnayake then goes on to explain how one needs to be more accountable of themselves– it is not enough to just identify your feelings. For her, mindfulness actually made her feel estranged from her thoughts, and she now limits herself to only meditating when she truly feels she needs it.

When reading these three articles I found it interesting how each author approached the topic of mindfulness. I also saw how similar they were like each talking about Jon Kabat-Zinn, and specifically Pickert and Ratnayake briefly spoke about the raisin exercise. I can agree with each author because I do see the negatives and the positives coming from this growing industry. Overall, I thought they were each good reads.


With this upcoming meditation assignment I’m hoping I will become a more relaxed and positive person. The app that I hope I can use is called Dare. https://dareresponse.com/dareresponse-app/ 

I might be more biased in choosing this app because I have used it before and I already pay for the premium membership, but after exploring the guided meditations section I still think it’s the right fit for me. I’ve found it to be very helpful during times where I felt really stressed or anxious and my mood changed completely after listening to a recording, so I think it’s perfect that I also realized they have a section for guided meditations. I find the person’s voice very soothing, so I know I can handle these guided meditations that are around 20-29mins. I also like that I can journal everyday if I wanted to on the app. There are even other topics I can browse if I am going through something one day and want to listen to other clips. In the future however I do know I will need to use a different app if I want to listen to more guided meditations than the 20 they offer here, these will only last me for our two week project. I plan on just listening to each one in order. These guided meditations are all found under the Guided Meditations folder.













The other apps I had downloaded and gave a try were Calm
(https://app.www.calm.com/meditate) and MyLife (https://my.life & https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.stopbreathethink.app&hl=en_US&gl=US). With Calm I do like that they ask specific questions to personalize your experience but a few things I wanted to try out I would need to have a premium subscription. On MyLife there was no specific section for guided meditations, but they did have a handful meditations for certain topics. I noticed that there was an option for a male or female narrator before playing each audio recording. The app even includes a daily check in, which also tells you what you should try to listen to based on your logged emotion, and it lets you track how you feel before meditating and after meditating. If I couldn’t use the Dare app for this 2week meditation assignment, I would rather give MyLife a try.

During the two weeks, I plan on just meditating every night before bed.

Pandemic Processing

Ever since covid was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization last March, life hasn’t been the same for anyone. I know when I first heard the news I was excited for the  switch from traveling to school four days a week to just attending class from my laptop at home. I didn’t really understand the seriousness of the pandemic for the first few days. The week everything shut down also happened to be the same week as my dad’s birthday, and it was at that point when it hit me that life wouldn’t go back to how it was for a while. My stepmom, siblings, and I had planned to go to the Kalahari Waterpark that week, but I quickly found myself unable to go to my dad’s and I no longer visited any other family members, friends, or did any outdoor activities. During the first few months I was a complete homebody and went out only when necessary. This is something I still do til this day, but I ‘ve since included having regular walks so I can at least see other people outside and feel some sort of normalcy. 

What has helped me cope the most during this difficult time is just always staying in touch with my loved ones. There were and still are many times where it’s hard to stay positive during a time like this, especially when you hear everything that is happening on the news. I don’t think anyone has fully adjusted to how we’re living right now, but the app Dare has helped me whenever I felt my lowest. The times I feel anxious about things or stressed or I get too overwhelmed, I just listen to one of the recordings and can instantly feel my mind at ease. This app also allows you to journal and track your mood daily. 

A few other habits I’ve picked up during this past year are working out from home, baking, cooking, having movie nights, and just finding time to read. I’ve been using this time to strengthen my relationship with my family as well as the relationship with myself. We do things like watching shows or movies every weekend, or we play board games. We also try to order out at least once or twice a week in order to support the small restaurants around our neighborhood. I always make sure to check up on the people I don’t get to see anymore and I’ve been a lot more on top of my school work since it can be easier to get distracted at home. Overall this pandemic has opened my eyes to the many things that are happening in this country and around the world, and it has forced me to face the reality that certain things are out of my control. You can’t possibly prepare for everything. The only thing we can all do now is take care of ourselves as best as we can, and try to push forward in hopes that things will get back to normal soon. 

Class Notes (3/9)

  • 7 Habits
  • mindfulness- being aware
  • character ethic (principles) vs. personality ethic (adjusting your attitude rather than changing the core)
  • superficial-on the surface
  • perception- how one views the world
  • subjective- bias; partial
  • objective- factual


  • pg. 31- paradigm (Greek origin) means a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference
  • free writing prompt:

-pg. 36 “If ten seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what about the conditioning of a lifetime?”

  • pg. 42 “Principles are not practices”
  • pg. 43 “Principles are not values”
  • the goal of the book is to make our map closely align with the laws in order to live better lives
  • Covey has an inside-out approach
  • inside-out means to start first with self


  • a habit is something you do consistently, unconsciously
  • pg. 55 Covey defines habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire
  • write a a habit you have tried to implement
  • write a habit you have tried to break


  • dependence- depending on someone else
  • independence- being able to take care of yourself
  • Covey’s end goal is interdependence- “we”
  • first 3 habits are private victories


  • free writing prompt:

-pg. 96 “It is inspiring to realize that in choosing our response to circumstances, we powerfully affect our circumstance. when we change one part of the chemical formula, we change the nature of the results”

-respond to this quote

think of how Covey’s framework relates to Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret for Thursday’s class

  •  do People’s Choice by 9am, Thursday (3/11)
  • review Habit 1: Be Proactive (pgs. 73-101) for class discussion this Thursday


Self-care to me is being able to just do things for yourself (benefitting to you) and doing any activity that will bring you more happiness. I think there are many ways to describe what self-care is but everyone generally understands it to be taking care of yourself in some way. This past weekend I made sure to do as many upcoming assignments as I could, and was able to get a majority of them done by Saturday afternoon. I used the rest of that afternoon and Sunday doing things that made me happy and I also made time for my family.

On Saturday I had woken up around 10am, got ready, had my usual cup of coffee, and started doing homework. After finishing my homework, I decided to have a wash day and also did my laundry. On Sunday I woke up around 11am, got ready, had my coffee, and watched reruns of my favorite sitcom throughout the day. Later that night me and my family combined our “game  night” and “movie night”. We decided to play a long, and stressful round of Monopoly and ordered pizza to watch Invisible Man afterwards. My Monday was pretty relaxed because the only assignment I had left to do was for this class, and my only class for the day is at 4pm.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

When reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I found myself mostly comparing it to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The front matter had many positive reviews, but none were left by experts, as seen with Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book. What stood out to me the most was seeing well-known figures like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney leaving a review (Covey 2-4). I believe this best shows how the author, Stephen R. Covey, uses ethos to appeal to the audience. If the reader recognizes that the person leaving a review is successful and famous, they’ll want to see how this book has helped them.

Another similarity with The Secret is when asked by Jim Collins how he [Covey] came up with the ideas in the book, he said he didn’t. Covey’s principles are “natural laws” that had been around long before him. All he did was put them together. “He did not seek credit for the principles; he sought to teach the principles, to make them accessible. He saw creating the 7 Habits not primarily as a means to his own success, but as an act of service” (Collins 29). In her own book, Byrne points out that other individuals have known the secret and withheld it for years, but that she’s the one who will share this simple secret with everyone else. Covey just like Byrne, attributes the knowledge everyone will have access to to himself. They both try to point out to the readers that these aren’t new ideas and so you should take their word for it.

The 7 habits that Covey discusses in the book are:

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive 
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Throughout the rest of the book you see many examples/stories, some being the author’s own experiences. As Jim Collins states, “he made the ideas even more accessible by using personal life-struggles and stories- raising children, building a marriage, dealing with friends…” (30-31). Here the author is using pathos to seem more relatable to the reader.

Of the three self-help texts we’ve read I think Samuel Smiles had the best advice of daily application and perseverance. When taking the time to understand it, his message is clear. Through the examples of all the failures of now well-known individuals, we come to understand that things don’t come so easy to many people. He also advises us to have the right models to look up to. Stephen R. Covey has a strong emphasis of building character in this text but the ideas were repetitive throughout. The book could’ve been a lot shorter for what he was trying to say. And lastly, Byrne’s text is all about the law of attraction. To her, if you want something, you need to have predominant thoughts about it, visualize and feel it, and you can’t have any feelings of doubt.  Putting out negative thoughts only attracts more of it. That text was the most unrealistic.


Reading Response #2

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles was a somewhat difficult read to me because of the time period it was published in.  There were many unfamiliar words that were used that made me lose Smiles’ train of thought, though I wrote them down in my annotations. And some of the points seemed all over the place, while others were repeated just as The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes.  The main ideas I got from reading these three chapters is that 1) being patient and actually working towards your goals will pay off, 2) anything someone else does you can do too, and 3) the home environment we grow up in shapes our lives.

In Chapter I:  Self-Help –National and Individual, Smiles states we are where we are now through the thinking and actions of men. He pushes the idea that you don’t necessarily need to be a genius in order to do great work. To become successful in something you just need to push yourself and keep working at it. He kept repeating the idea that “a man perfects himself by work more than reading” (Smiles 22). And that the greatest contributors we know to science, literature, and art have mainly come from poor and humble beginnings– some with not much of an education. Smiles believes it is the difficulties these people have faced that have helped them fuel their work (Smiles 22-23).  Outside of academics, what we do in our daily lives also plays a part in how successful we are.

In Chapter IV:  Application and Perseverance, Smiles directly talks about the genius being.  He says genius can be defined only as common sense intensified (Smiles 91). These individuals constantly work on the same ideas in order to fully grasp it, but they are also susceptible to their own share of hardships as anyone else is. This can be anything from having your years work of calculations being accidentally caught on fire like Isaac Newton or finding only bits and pieces of your 200 drawings because Norwegian rats chewed through them like John Audubon had (Smiles 96-97). Although frustrating, if they had given up at those points we wouldn’t see the hand they had in science and art respectively today. “To know how to wait is the great secret to success” (De Maistre 94). Another important idea in this chapter is “any man can do what any other man has done” (Dr. Young 96).

The extra chapter I chose to read was Chapter XII:  Examples –Models.  This chapter focuses again on how action will get you to where you want to be, but also how this is instilled in us as children, and how we are able to continue this cycle in our adult life. When we were younger we did many things because we saw the adults in our lives doing it.  Seeing things leaves more of an impression than hearing and reading. We have always been led by example. As adults we need to surround ourselves with others just like us, or that are “better” than us.  And we need to keep in mind that we are better off alone rather than be in bad company. Smiles says “good rules may do much, but good models far more; for in the latter we have instruction in action” (307).

I agree with this idea of surrounding yourself with like people because with them you won’t find that you are deterring from any goals you have set to achieve. You will also have others that will inspire you and motivate you to keep pushing forward when things get tough. Overall I believe this text was better than The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes because it’s more realistic and can be seen as relatable. The author Samuel Smiles is basically trying to push people to do what they want to do. He tells the stories of others so you won’t feel alone and he doesn’t make any promises that are out of reach.