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.
One effective exercise for this is to write down the thought that is upsetting you – for example, “I am not a good mother”.  
Then write it again but this time say, “I am having the thought that I am not a good mother”.
Immediately this puts some distance between you and the thought itself because you recognise it is a thought rather than a reality.

Accept what is out of your control

If you allow worries or anxious thoughts to come and go rather than locking onto 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.
So you accept the worry or anxious thought is part of your view of the world rather than fight it.

Be in the present moment

If you can focus on simply being more aware of what is happening around you in a particular moment, you can find calm in that moment.
This is because you are not thinking about the past or the future, you are just maintaining a curious attitude to the present moment – you are interested and 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:

Created on 29/08/2013 | Updated on 01/12/2015
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