Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is used as an effective way to treat everything from excessive stress in the workplace to depression. It is also one of the best ways to manage anxiety, thanks to a strong focus on defusion, acceptance, and staying present.
As it suggests in the name, one of the main components of ACT is acceptance. You’ve probably heard before that keeping things bottled up inside isn’t good. That goes especially for the stress, worry, and fear in your life.
When you learn to accept the underlying causes of your anxiety, the fear becomes easier to control because you become more psychologically flexible.
So, how does ACT really help with anxiety?
What Is Defusion?
When you’re going through ACT, defusion is often a big part of it. Defusion doesn’t necessarily change the frequency of when you have undesirable thoughts. Instead, it works by decreasing the believability of those thoughts.
Most people who struggle with anxiety tend to have fears and worries over things that are unrealistic or will likely never come to pass. Defusion allows you to change the way you interact with those worrisome thoughts as they come. It helps to take away their power, giving you more control.
For example, one defusion technique is repeating the fear/thought out loud. By saying it so many times, it can take away some of the strength behind it, reducing it to “just words.” This helps to curtail its believability, no matter how many times the thought comes to mind.
Adjusting to Acceptance
Again, avoiding your issues simply won’t make them go away. The “acceptance” part of ACT highlights that. It allows you to focus on embracing the underlying triggers that could be causing you to feel fearful and worried.
When you go through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, you are taught to feel anxiety without defending themselves against it. In doing so, you’re allowing yourself to deal with the effects of it head-on; rather than trying to handle bits of it at a time and prolonging the treatment process.
The Importance of Staying Present
One of the biggest struggles many people with anxiety have is letting thoughts of the past or worries of the future fuel their fears. Being in the present moment is often interchangeable with the term “mindfulness.”
It allows you to be engaged in each specific moment without having to attach a label to it (good or bad). While it might seem easy to just stop and focus on what you’re doing right now, being mindful is more than that. It isn’t about shutting your thoughts down. Instead, it is about focusing on the thoughts that are coming and going at any given time.
For instance, if you were to sit in a quiet room right now and focus on nothing but your breathing, thoughts may continue to come to you. When you choose to stay present, you allow those thoughts to come up, but you don’t let them linger.
A good visualization tool is to think of those thoughts as clouds passing by. You can watch them come and go, but you can’t hold onto them. Instead, you just let them wisp off.
This practice keeps you from letting your worries and fears take over, whether they are creeping in from the past or preventing you from focusing on a bright future.
Is ACT Therapy Right for You?
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you don’t have to manage your symptoms alone. And you certainly don’t have to push your feelings and concerns down as a coping mechanism.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy could be just what you’re looking for. Feel free to contact me for more information about how ACT works and how it could help you to manage your anxiety and better understand your triggers.