Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig ⭐ Self-Help and Essays on Anxiety

Notes on a Nervous Plant

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CW’s: Suicidal Thoughts, Panic Attacks

Representation 🌷 Anxiety, Depression & Panic Disorder

A follow-up to Matt Haig’s internationally bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, a broader look at how modern life feeds our anxiety, and how to live a better life.

The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies. Let's Talk (2)


“You are incredible. You are nothing and everything. You are a single moment and all eternity. You are the universe in motion.”

The biggest plot twist if 2019 is me falling in love with a nonfiction book 😂 But all jokes aside, this book was INCREDIBLE! It gave me such an insight into living with anxiety in a world that’s designed to make you nervous. This is a book I need to read again and again to get all the important messages, as there are so many lessons to learn, it’s hard to absorb them all. Told through anecdotes, lists, quotes and real-life events, Notes on a Nervous Planet is an absolute must-read 🥰

“Find a good book. And sit down and read it. There will be times in your life when you’ll feel lost and confused. The way back to yourself is through reading. I want you to remember that. The more you read, the more you will know how to find your way through those difficult times.”

The combination of a self-help book, nonfiction, and memoir is really well done I love that the book is told in such a unique way and has it’s own very distinct style. Structured with broad themes, Notes on a Nervous Planet contains anecdotes of the author – drawing from his private life, essays on various topics, lists, and advice on how to survive a world designated to stress us out. At first, it might seem like the book is a wild mix, but somehow all the puzzle pieces fit together and create an immersive picture that gives you everything you could have hoped for. Matt Haig has a fantastic way of writing nonfiction and I would love for him to write even more books. He has a way of telling a story throughout the book and seamlessly connecting all the important messages he wants the reader to take home.

“One frustration with anxiety is that it is often hard to find a reason behind it. There may be no visible threat and yet you can feel utterly terrorized.”

I connected so much to the book I had no idea how much I would relate to the book and it hit me out of nowhere. Matt Haig mainly discusses how his anxiety and the tumultuous world we live in intersect and I related to so many of his thoughts and feelings. I did cry a couple of times (reading apart of this on a train journey, might not have been the best idea 😂) because so many messages and quotes resonated with my experience and how I struggled to function in a world that can be very overwhelming and hard to deal with at times. That’s why I began loving this book so much: I felt like it got my experience and opened my eyes to some bad habits I still have and how to try to combat this feeling of helplessness and being trapped in a constant spiral of anxiety.

“Don’t compare your actual self to a hypothetical self. Don’t drown in a sea of ‘what ifs’. Don’t clutter your mind by imagining other versions of you, in parallel universes where you made different decisions.”

There were so many important messages and discussions throughout the book The book is structured in topics that are discussed, but there is simply so much great information that I’ll need to do a reread to catch all of them. Notes on a Nervous Planet is definitely a book that you’ll want to get all your sticky notes to keep track of all the great quotes and discussions that can be found. I also liked that the author included studies and books he read in his discussions, but still explained them, so that you could follow along without having read the source material. If anything, it added another layer to his writing, as it made me interested in what he was reading, as a fellow reader. Here is a list of some of the brilliant discussions and topics that I loved reading about in the book (and there was so much more too) 🥰

  • How social media influences our anxiety and daily lives. I always appreciate when authors don’t completely demonize social media and instead talk about the good and bad sides. I agreed with a lot of what Matt Haug wrote about, as social media can be very draining and has a lot of ugly sides, but it also can bring people with the same passions together and initiate friendships with those who understand you. You can meet the best people online, which is especially important if you don’t have people in real life who share your hobbies/interests. But it’s also vital to detach from social media as it makes me anxiety flare up sometimes and makes it harder to be mindful.
  • How the media and news constantly make crises and catastrophes as visible to everyone like never before. This is another thing I also struggle with, as there’s simply SO much information and horrible news around that makes me anxious and nervous. I want to stay up to date with everything important that is going on, but it’s simply not possible to always engage with every bit of news you find and it doesn’t make you a bad person either. trying your best to speak up while also being kind to yourself and taking a step back when you need it is SO important because you don’t need to have a reaction to everything. (I also recommend reading credible news resources that are somewhat factual as misinformation and panic being spread is counterproductive).
  • How the industry thrives off our unhappiness. Now, this was a REALLY interesting topic, that I had never considered like this before, but it also makes sense that a lot of products are being sold to people who are unhappy with their looks or life. Happy costumers don’t need expensive products that promise to make them happier and improve them. This constant message that you need to improve yourself and that you’re somewhat incomplete in whatever area of your life does eat at me at times.
  • How we’re always yearning for what we don’t have. This is one of my biggest negative habits. Always comparing myself to others and thinking about what I don’t have. I’m trying to focus more on what I actually have in the new year, but it can be hard to stop the obsession with always gaining more and having all these great experiences. I’m also guilty of imagining what my life would be like if I made different choices and if there’s a reality where I have everything I ever wanted and are super happy … but that’s simply not helpful, as I can’t undo choices or take a different path in th past, I can only decide what to do moving forward. It was really helpful seeing that discussed in the book (without it ever coming across as preachy).

“To enjoy life, we might have to stop thinking about what we will never be able to read and watch and say and do, and start to think of how to enjoy the world within our boundaries. To live on a human scale. To focus on the few things we can do, rather than the millions of things we can’t. To not crave parallel lives. To find a smaller mathematics. To be a proud and singular one. An indivisible prime.”

Let's Talk (1)Have you read Notes on a Nervous Planet? What is your favorite nonfiction/self-help book? ⭐


6 thoughts on “Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig ⭐ Self-Help and Essays on Anxiety

  1. Gosh I love all the things you point out that this book shares. The media does thrive on unhappiness for example. I can totally see why you fell in love with this non fiction book Caro! I really need to check it out. Anxiety is something I’m familiar with though mine is more social anxiety. But I do feel like our world makes everything out to be worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a beautiful review, Caro! This book seems so eye-opening and would definitely benefit this anxious potato 🙋🏻‍♀️. I seriously learned so much from just your review 😅! It’s nuts to think of how nearly every company, regardless of the product they’re marketing, thrives off of our insecurities. Non-fiction can be tricky for me to sit down and read, but hopefully the Haig’s memoir bits you mentioned make it more digestible 🙂.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Belle! 💗 I learned a lot from the book and it spoke to me so much! I never considered how the industry uses our own insecurities to make profit, but it made so much sense! I thought that the book was very balanced when it came to that 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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