Toolkit

Accept, rather than fight anxiety

If you have something you are worried or anxious about it can be difficult to know what to do. You feel like you should fight the feelings and thoughts. You might think if you challenge your worries or anxieties they will get weaker and go away. For some, this is not always the case.

Instead of using your energy to fight anxious thoughts and feelings, you can try some of the following techniques:

Take a step back

Try not to connect with your negative thoughts, instead become the observer of your thoughts and feelings.
To do this write down the thought that is upsetting you. For example, "I am overwhelmed by my fears about the future."
Then write it again but this time write, "I am having the thought that I am overwhelmed by my fears about the future."
Suddenly, there is some distance between you and the thought.

Accept what is out of your control

If you allow the worries or anxious thoughts to come and go, rather than buying into them, they don’t have as much impact on you. It is a bit like being in quicksand. If you fight and struggle in quicksand you sink, but if you lie back as if you are floating, you have more chance of surviving. With your thoughts this is achieved by trying to let the thoughts pass through your mind rather than go round and round. So you acknowledge them and let them go by.

Be in the present moment

Being more aware of what is happening around you in the present allows you to release some of your worry and anxiety about the future. The aim is to maximise your focus for instance in simply sitting down for breakfast and having a curious but calm attitude about what is going on around you. This technique helps to ground and calm you - you are interested but not fearful.
For more tips on how to be more in the present moment, see Tool 8, Relaxation & Mindfulness.

This is a very brief introduction to 'Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' (ACT). If you would like more information visit: www.actmindfully.com.au/acceptance_&_commitment_therapy

Created on 30/08/2013 | Updated on 10/12/2015
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