Book: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
Author: Ruby Wax
Publisher: Penguin Life
Favourite Line: ‘To do or not to do, that is the question.’
Where can I find it? You can buy a paperback or the Kindle edition here
A self-help book for those of us who are really, really stressed. Ruby Wax goes into tremendous detail about the scientific side of MBCT, with solid proof that mindfulness isn’t something to be ignored.
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is the latest book written by Ruby Wax, who has an OBE for services to mental health. If you’re a little whippersnapper like myself (can we still count 24 years old as being one of those?), you’ll remember Ruby Wax the comedian. The first time I remember watching her, I was sat watching The Weakest Link with my granny and grandad for one of their special celeb shows. When Penguin got in touch and asked if I wanted to review the book I was baffled. Why on earth would Ruby Wax, arguably one of the loudest comedians on television, be writing a self-help book? Well, dear readers, you may realise that Ruby Wax has been off the scene for quite some time now. Why? She went to Oxford University, studied mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and came out with a MASTERS!
Frazzled, according to the dictionary, means ‘completely exhausted’, and I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this. I received this book slap bang in the middle of what my doctor called a ‘mental health crisis’. At 24, I didn’t think I’d become a slug in unwashed pyjamas who slept for an hour or so a night and was physically sick at the thought of leaving my house, but alas, this is what I have become. It took me a couple of weeks before I could read this book and actually take in the words on the page, but this weekend I did it, and boy am I glad.
I’ll admit, I was dubious about this book when I read that stress is a man-made concept – it’s a very real feeling, we don’t bring it on ourselves, right? The word mindfulness also put me off. I’ve kind of refused to believe it’s an actual thing because it all just sounded a little bit too fluffy, but Ruby Wax has completely challenged my outlook and I’m already itching to get started with the 6 week mindfulness course she has so kindly created and included in the book. Mindfulness isn’t about meditation, or sitting in a quiet room with incense burning away at your soul. It’s about learning to be present, to know what’s going on and to take back control of your thoughts without them distracting you or keeping you awake at night.
I’ve never seen somebody talk with such dry wit about the state of their mental health. Wax really nails describing the dark despair of depression, while still being funny. If I wasn’t somebody plagued with mental issues, I think I’d understand the disease after reading Frazzled. Her view on to do lists, and how we feel we have no purpose when we come to the end of them is spot on. I’m forever writing lists, finishing them, then making another; without them I’d just sit around watching TV, and then I’d be alone with my thoughts *shudders*.
It’s an interesting read for four main reasons:
…but not boring. If you want to find out how your brain works in a really simple yet detailed way, this book is for you. It goes into depth about why we get really angry, or really sad, or really frustrated and anxious, and explores a variety of reasons as to why we are the way we are. Think cavemen, survival, and Freud. Facts are thrown at you from every angle and there’s even a scientific paper at the back which proves that mindfulness literally CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
As I said before, I never had any time for mindfulness, but after reading this book, I’m already trying to incorporate some of the techniques.
…but relatable. With short anecdotes sprinkled across the pages, Ruby Wax gives us her own experience with mental illness and mindfulness, but not in a ‘feel sorry for me’ way. Although she has a few years of life experience on me, I empathised with so much of what she felt. She puts depression into a completely new light, and captures the trials and tribulations life throws at us so perfectly, without triggering.
Really bloody funny. She talks about the highs and lows with humour, and explores the rise of social media anxiety and lack of self-compassion without sounding like an ‘Earth Mother’.
If you find yourself on auto-pilot a lot of the time, going from one task to the next without ever really knowing what you’ve done or how you’ve got there, you really do need to read this book.
The last couple of chapters focus on mindfulness in babies, children and teenagers. While I don’t have a child myself, it was an eye-opener for me. We should be raising children to be calm and to understand their thoughts and feelings, maybe then we wouldn’t all be quite so frazzled.
What makes you Frazzled? How do you defrazzle? Share your tips on social media using the hashtag #Defrazzle!