We can’t always change the stressful environment, and sometimes we can’t even influence them. For example, you can’t always leave a difficult job or raise your salary when financially tight, and there will always be some difficult people you need to deal with.
Some stress must be managed, and when you find a strategy that can help you deal with stress in a way that minimizes negative effects, it can change your life.
One of the increasingly popular tools is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This is a form of consultation similar to cognitive behavioral therapy. Many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for stress management.
ACT combines mindfulness strategies that accept stressors and mix in different ways in life with commitment and behavior change strategies that can increase mental and emotional flexibility.
History of ACT
This method was originally named “Total Alienation” and was founded in 1982 by psychologist Steven C. Hayes. Since then, it has been enriched and has become a more powerful method of change. There are several different ACT protocols, and they will vary according to the situation and type of pressure and the environment. For example, there is a short version of ACT called “Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy”, also called FACT.
The goal of ACT (and FACT) is not to eliminate difficult feelings, but to live with them and accept them, which can bring them greater comfort and enable people to transcend the obstacles caused by these feelings. Acceptance and commitment therapy invites people to open up about unpleasant feelings and learn not to overreact to them or avoid situations where they are called. Its therapeutic effect is a positive “upward spiral” of emotions, and feeling better leads to a better understanding of the truth.
ACT usually uses six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility.
- Cognitive dissolution: Learn to treat thoughts, images, emotions, and memories as their true colors (texts and pictures), rather than their surface (threatening events or truth).
- Acceptance: Allow thoughts to come and go without struggling with them.
- Contact with the present moment: to experience the awareness of this time and place with an attitude of openness, interest and acceptance.
- Observe yourself: Learn to observe and react to your own actions as if they were the actions of other people.
- Values: Discover what is most important to you.
- Commitment to action: Set goals based on values and execute them responsibly.
Relevant evidence found that the lack of psychological flexibility heralds many forms of psychopathology. A meta-analysis in 2005 showed that, based on measurements using related methods, the six ACT principles accounted for an average of 16% to 29% of the variance in baseline psychopathology (general mental health, depression, and anxiety).
Mindfulness and meditation
Because the main goal of ACT is to accept a person’s current situation, become more comfortable with them, and then have the ability to surpass them with minimal stress, meditation is a very useful tool for this kind of stress.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation allows you to practice being aware of stressors and then giving up the need to react. This minimizes the stress you feel and the tendency for many of us to overreact to the stress we experience when we feel trapped. This can come in the form of contemplation, catastrophe and other habits that exacerbate stress, and many of us are aware of this or not.
We cannot always change our experiences, but we can change our perception of these experiences. This is the core belief of ACT.
Changing your view of the stress you experience can take the form of cognitive reconstruction or cognitive reassessment. In this case, you will actively strive to choose new ways of looking at the same situation. These views may not be your first thoughts on this topic, but they can be consistent with the actual situation.
For example, when faced with a challenge beyond your abilities (a common stress situation), “I failed in this area” can be changed to “I have encountered difficulties in this area. However, this is all part of the process, I I will get it eventually.” Similarly, “This shouldn’t happen to me” can be changed to “We all face challenges, and this is one of my challenges. I will get through it.”
Sometimes, when we give up the struggle and believe in the process, the pressure can be greatly reduced. When we feel that we need to fight something that will not necessarily change, we may be overwhelmed by an almost impossible task. When we accept a situation and give up our need to control it (which is usually impossible, anyway), it feels like taking off the burden on our shoulders and can greatly reduce the pressure of any situation we face.
“Make friends” with the situation we’ve been fighting with can be a liberating process. Interestingly, it can help us go from feeling “stuck” and “trapped” to realizing “what” and what we can do. Place it.
Choose a purposeful action
The main goal of ACT is to choose actions that can be taken and move in a positive and productive direction. One strategy that can help is to increase the positive experience you have so that you can create a “positive spiral.” Another way is to simply look at the situation you are in (and accept it), and then look for options you can choose in this reality, rather than trying to change the reality itself by fighting your overall situation.
This can be achieved with the help of a therapist, through diary practice or talking with a good friend who understands.
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Ultimately, ACT-based strategies can bring liberation and empowerment. Accepting the challenges in life and moving forward can build confidence and inner strength, and can help you overcome great stress. Practicing in this way can become perfect.