Key Ways ACT Can Make Your Anxiety Manageable

You’ve probably seen a thousand or more articles about managing your anxiety. Sometimes, it can feel like enough to, well…provoke more anxiety. This is partially true because the word “anxiety” does not do justice to the countless variations in a) how it manifests and b) how it is treated. Anxiety disorders range in specifics and severity. Some of their symptoms can be temporarily self-managed. In most cases, some kind of intervention is recommended and needed. One of the most successful approaches in this realm requires us to ACT — as in acceptance and commitment therapy.

How Does Anxiety Become Unmanageable?

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. But whether it’s generalized anxiety or PTSD or a specific phobia, they can all create a self-feeding cycle. In the beginning, you notice some changes in how you feel and consequently act. Left unchecked, this trend escalates as anxious thoughts provoke certain behaviors which, in turn, provoke more anxious thoughts. The outcomes present with symptoms like:

  • Physical changes like sleep disturbances, accelerated heart rate, dizziness, and shortness of breath — all of which are anxiety-inducing on their own
  • Emotional concerns like panic, loss of focus, uneasiness, agitation, and fear — all of which, again, feed the cycle

Obviously, anxiety must be addressed on at least these two levels:

  • Calm the acute symptoms
  • Address the chronic causes

This is where acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) comes into play.

What is ACT?

As a treatment, ACT helps us aim a lens of mindfulness at the inevitable hardships we all face in life. Mindfulness keeps us focused on the present. This enhances our ability to focus on solutions regardless of how volatile our emotions have become. In this process, you’ll develop flexible coping mechanisms to be adapted in many ways in different situations.

This is accomplished through 3 steps:

  • Accept and be mindful of a given emotion
  • Choose the direction you wish to take
  • Take action to get you moving in that direction

Key Ways ACT Can Make Your Anxiety Manageable

Let’s break down by A-C-T:

Acceptance

This is how ACT teaches you to differentiate between what is and what isn’t within your control. This process can dramatically decrease the stress in your life as you learn to use your focus and energy most effectively. Studies show how ACT helps clients comprehend that their struggles against anxiety may be counterproductive. By accepting the anxiety — by “staying” with it — they are freer to focus on life experiences. They abandon archaic coping strategies (new behavior) and aim instead at an improved quality of life (new focus).

Choosing

Deciding on a new direction is a form of motivation. You’ve identified precisely what it is you can control. You choose, you pledge, to make it happen. The older, unwanted responses to anxiety are duly exposed for what they are. They are seen for what they may have always been. They are merely thoughts, feelings, and body sensations and they do not serve you in a positive way.

Taking Action

Refocusing your aim is a form of empowerment. This new aim is, as mentioned, to stay with the anxiety. You face up to it with mindfulness and commitment as you move away from feeling stuck or trapped by negative emotions.

It’s Time For ACTion

How do you know if ACT is right for you? It begins with a single phone call. I have witnessed firsthand how effective it is when dealing with anxiety. Therapy is an investment in your wellbeing. By learning to cope with your anxiety you can reduce your stress and lead a productive life. Let’s create more calm together. Please read more about anxiety counseling and contact me for your free half-hour initial session.