My Wellness Toolbox: Building simple & effective tools to manage anxiety

My Wellness Toolbox book by Alison Swift

Whilst at a beauty expo a few months ago, I happened to meet a very inspirational person, her name is Alison Swift.  A published author, she was at the event to promote her book My Wellness Toolbox’, a self-help book to empower you to simply & effectively manage your anxiety. 

She handed me an affirmation (one of her wellness tools) and we got to chatting about her story. 

Paper affirmation reading 'I have the power to choose.  Today I choose happiness.
The affirmation I received – very apt!

The story behind ‘My Wellness Toolbox’…

In the late 90’s Alison noticeably began experiencing anxiety & panic attacks.  Over the next 8-9 years, these became increasingly worse to the point where she had such crippling anxiety she couldn’t even open her front door

In August 2006, Alison hit what she described as her rock bottom.  It took days for her to be convinced to leave the house to seek help from a doctor.  But thankfully she did. 

As part of her recovery, she underwent Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and was introduced to the idea of a toolbox.  A metaphorical box full of ‘tools’ to help her cope & overcome the anxiety she was experiencing. 

From her own experiences, she believed that everyone should build their own toolbox to enable themselves into a better life…

Which is why she shares her story and her tools within My Wellness Toolbox*.

A few hours later, I joined the audience for Alison’s talk.  I couldn’t quite believe that here stood a woman, microphone in hand, confidently, purposefully & self-assuredly speaking to a room full of strangers about her experiences – when at one point in her life, this same woman couldn’t open her own front door. 

Alison Swift, author of My Wellness Toolbox, speaking on a stage at an event
Alison speaking at the event

It was inspiring to listen to her talk, to hear how she had turned a seemingly hopeless situation around. I felt compelled to buy her book. 

What is a wellness toolbox?

A wellness toolbox approach is a mental list of tools you can use daily, or hold in reserve, to help you manage your anxiety.  The idea is that by pulling these tools out when needed, you’ll be able to stop anxiety before it starts or calm it when it arises. 

How does the My Wellness Toolbox book help?

The My Wellness Toolbox book* is accessible and easy to follow.  It gently nudges you into working out the tools that will best help you to cope with your anxiety.  It’s clear that no one approach to managing anxiety fits all and that’s the beauty of this book.  Whilst Alison does share the tools she uses within her own toolbox, they are more suggestions for trial than prescriptive. 

Open spread of pages 46 and 47 within the My Wellness Toolbox book by Alison Swift. The page displays Tool 14 - positive people
One of my favourite tools – Tool #14 Positive People

However, the tools that she has included are widely acknowledged as effective counter-measures to anxiety.  Without realising it, I’ve actually been using a number of the same tools as Alison for my own anxiety with great effect. 

Tools such as turning off negative news, kindness (to yourself & others), music, exercise & gratitude have all worked well for me. 

Perhaps these tools would help you too?

Within My Wellness Toolbox*, Alison shares her personal 24 tools in more depth.  She explains how each tool helped her and ends each section with an effectiveness, ease & budget rating, designed to help you work out whether each tool is right for you.

I discovered some new tools I would like to try – I’ve never experienced a Reiki session, within her book, Alison (a trained Reiki-practitioner) makes it sound very therapeutic.

At the end of the book, Alison encourages you to build your own toolbox and there is space for you to journal your thoughts.   I personally will be adding my de-catastrophizing worksheet to my toolbox plus mindfulness meditation

Reading this book can help kickstart the process of becoming more self-aware, working out what your needs are, whilst having a more mindful & proactive approach to working with your anxiety. 

I highly recommend Alison’s book to anyone who wants to change their relationship with anxiety…

In June 2010 whilst on safari in Kenya, (how’s that for someone who at one time couldn’t leave the house?) Alison was able to reflect back and realise she had overcome the obstacles anxiety had placed in her way.  Alison is living proof that even if you do hit rock bottom, with time and investment in yourself – plus a few helpful tools in your toolbox – a much happier and fulfilling life is within your reach. 

Author Alison Swift
Alison Swift

I have My Wellness Toolbox and You can have Your Wellness Toolbox right now. The chances are you already have a number of tools to put in it. The next step is to acknowledge that they are your wellness tools, that you are in control of them and you can choose when to use them to support you and make you feel more positive. 

Alison Swift

Here Alison shares her top tips to help you discover and fill your own wellness toolbox:

01. Keep it simple.  

Start off by writing a list of positive coping mechanisms you already use in your daily routine and/or activities you enjoy that calm or uplift you.  

For example,  I always turn on my positive playlist on my way to the office, especially when I have a busy day ahead.  I do not watch the news or read newspapers when going through stressful periods and challenging times.  I love walking and talking, a good natter with a friend is always guaranteed to make us both feel better.  I enjoy writing and try to journal at least twice a week.  A good massage therapy always uplifts me.  

02. Visualise your tools in your wellness toolbox.

Acknowledge that everything on your list is one of your tools and place them visually in your wellness toolbox.  

03. Use your tools pro-actively.

Now you have acknowledged these are the tools that help and support you, use them and be grateful for them.  Do not just use your tools during the challenging times to make you feel better, also use them pro-actively with the aim of heading into the challenging times more positively.  

04. Share & discover new tools. 

As you go through your every-day seek out new tools that make you feel good, boost your confidence and encourage a positive mind.  It is when I share my tools with others that I tend to discover the new power tools.  

…and every-time you find a new tool, add it to Your Wellness Toolbox… as it is now with you for life.  

My Wellness Toolbox book by Alison Swift

Fancy reading the award-winning My Wellness Toolbox for yourself?  The book is available for purchase from all major online book-retailers, from the My Wellness Toolbox website and also via my link here*.

You can also find out more about Alison here.

Ready for more?  Read:

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I want to thank Alison for sharing her story with me and for providing her tips for building a wellness toolbox here too!  Were you aware of a wellness toolbox before?  Is it something you feel you would benefit from developing in the future?  Do you already have a wellness toolbox?  What type of tools do you put in or what tools do you feel you would put in if you haven’t started building one already?  If you have any questions about my experience with the book, I’m happy to help and will always provide an honest opinion.  Whatever you’d like to say just leave a comment in the box below, I always love to hear from you! 


9 thoughts on “My Wellness Toolbox: Building simple & effective tools to manage anxiety

  1. Thank you for sharing this – tools like this are so helpful for managing anxiety. I hadn’t heard of a Wellness Toolbox, but this is a great concept for method for developing behaviors/coping mechanisms for anxiety.

  2. A great post Alex – and some sage advice as usual. I’ve been looking at this for my daughter too as I think she’d really benefit from working through her anxiety issues. At the moment we’re just doing breathing exercises but she needs something with a bit more depth. x

    1. I think the key is to note that it’s a toolbox in which you store as many tools as you need. So the breathing is one good tool in a box where she can place other tools too that work for her. It’s a case of trial & error isn’t it – what works keep on doing and what doesn’t move on from. The book contains lots of tools that we might not necessarily realise can counterbalance our anxieties. Pebble painting would defintely be one to put in the toolbox for her Lauretta – thanks for reading xx

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