Style & Then Some

BOOK REVIEW: Walking on Custard and The Meaning of Life – A Guide for Anxious Humans By Neil Hughes

It is a truth often unacknowledged that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. That seems like a lot right? Well, if you or someone you care about is going through any mental health issues, it may be reassuring to know how much help is available, despite how it may feel sometimes. As someone who has dealt with certain issues surrounding anxiety, I would like to recommend a few positive steps you can consider taking, depending on your situation:

  1. Speak to your family and friends. You will be surprised just how many people have/are going through their own struggles and can offer compassion in this difficult time.
  2. Go to your doctor. This doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to pump you full of happy pills, there are lots of other options you can talk through.
  3. Read! Realising you aren’t the only person experiencing what you are going through can take so much pressure off your shoulders.

Where to begin with your reading list? If it’s anxiety that’s troubling you, where better to start than with a user’s manual? Enter Neil Hughes’s Walking on Custard & The Meaning of Life – A Guide for Anxious Humans.

walking on custard and the meaning of life a guide for anxious humans neil hughes review front cover

Don’t understand the title? Neither did I, but it turns out walking on custard isn’t a totally made up thing. Check this out:

Cool, right? Hughes explains that ‘walking on custard’ is a metaphor for how exhausting trying to cope with anxiety can be. If we don’t continuously keep moving we will sink, or so we think – but he promises there is a way to find solid non-custardy ground.

The author doesn’t pretend to be a specialist in mental health, but refreshingly writes about his own experiences and what he learned throughout his struggles, meaning there’s nothing patronising about what is essentially a self-help book. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to be a professor with a PhD or a multimillionaire mogul to be able to overcome your inner battles.

Moreover, the book is littered with whimsical anecdotes and light-hearted asides so you’re never overwhelmed as a reader. I’ve read a fair few self-help books in my time, but this was virtually the only one that spoke to me on a human level and acknowledged the author’s own flaws. In fact, it left me wondering why there isn’t a self-help/comedy section in WH Smith.

On a personal level, I felt the pragmatic approach to the subject of anxiety-relieving techniques really helped me. While Hughes describes meditation practices, mindfulness, breathing exercises – all the kind of things I have previously scoffed at – while admitting he too was once cynical about their worth. It was reassuring to know the author felt the same way once upon a time. Having now attempted all the exercises in the book, I can honestly say I wouldn’t scoff again.

Walking on Custard & The Meaning of Life – A Guide for Anxious Humans by Neil Hughes, £9.99, is available in print and for Kindle here.

For more information about the book and the author, you can visit the main website here.

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About Helen Coakley

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2015 by in And Then Some and tagged , , , , .
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