Book Review: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax

“Well, I have spent most of my waking hours (and some of the sleeping ones) in the Land of Frazzledom, so I feel qualified to act as an expert tourist guide, pointing out some of the more notable swamplands of confusion and self-doubt. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in these lands. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all in this together: many reside in the Land of Frazzledom and we all trying to find some kind of exit route. I’ve also decided that rather than spending all time complaining, or pointing a finger at problems outside in the world for making us feel so unhinged, we need to learn to navigate those sharp rocks of uncertainty and bewilderment. In this book, I’ll give you some recommendations for the best holiday destinations to rest and refuel.”

The land of Frazzledom is probably familiar territory for the best of us. I know it is for me; there’s always something to do, something you’ve probably forgotten, someone rubbing you up the wrong way and something you’re not good enough at. Everyday stresses may be a constant companion, but in this semi-autobiography slash self-help guide, Ruby Wax attempts help us de-frazzle with an introduction to mindful psychology.

With a masters degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, Wax certainly knows what she’s talking about. I was impressed by her knowledge of the science behind mindfulness, the interesting tidbits of neurobiology and how our brains have evolved (or entirely failed to). She breaks all this down for us in an accessible way, mixed in with some fun little analogies and honest humour.

“When our computers overload we know how to switch
them off and pick them up again a bit later. Why can’t we do that to ourselves without feeling like a failure? I’m not suggesting we all ‘chill’ […], but if we could just know to put our fingers to sleep after an orgy of emailing so that we can concentrate on the cheeseburger we just ordered, life would be a bowl of chips to go with it.”


This book definitely taught me a lot about my own silly little brain, and though I’m well-versed in mindfulness ideology and techniques, I still appreciated the reminders and the handy little exercises Wax provides for adults and children to try. Though I didn’t respond to Wax’s writing style (she writes, ironically, like she’s still frazzled), the content is all there. She breaks down exactly why mindfulness or cognitive therapy is beneficial, using her own life story as an example, and handily backs herself up with handfuls of scientific evidence.

Wax relates that embracing consciousness, mindfulness, self-awareness and slowing down every day to take care of our minds and body is not only fantastic for your health, but it also makes you better at life. It helps you be more productive, more motivated, more sociable and happier. It’s about the importance of taking time out of our day to do something I’m sure we all want to be doing anyway: just spending time with ourselves, being ourselves and being aware of ourselves.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is a very decent beginner’s book for those new to the game, especially for the skeptics among us.