ACT and Stress (1)

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What’s the best way to cope with stress?

A:  Effectively!

It's not stress that kills us it is our reaction to it

This quote by Dr Hans Selye, one of the fathers of modern stress research, illustrates the dilemma we face while living in the modern world.  Our bodies’ reaction to stress – the fight or flight response – can have a major impact on our health.  This response, which works very well when triggered occasionally, all too often seems to get stuck.

Job pressures, relationship issues, financial stress and unexpected events – all trigger the same primal response from the body’s sympathetic nervous system. This essentially puts the body on a war footing, releasing cortisol and other stress hormones throughout the body, shutting down digestion and increasing muscle tension and inflammation.  Over time this can have very far reaching and serious consequences.  Too much stress ineffectively handled is definitely not good for us!

So, where do we turn to for help?  Well many of us may have found refuge in all sorts of temporary escapisms.  Drink, drugs, food, shopping, work, exercise to name but a few.  Unfortunately, though these may work in the short term they tend not to be so effective in the long term and can even exacerbate the initial problem by creating problems of their own.

So what to do?  Well there is a lot of research to show that the answer lies within our own body.

The para sympathetic nervous system (sometimes known as the ‘rest and digest’ system) triggers the opposite response to fight or flight, thereby restoring equilibrium to the body.

What we are looking for then is the “Relaxation Response” to counter the “Fight or Flight Response”.  Where do we find it?

Research shows that,

“The para sympathetic nervous system can be activated and strengthened using slow diaphragmatic breathing as found in meditation and yoga.”

In other words, when we are in the grip of the stress response we can find the relaxation response in our very next breath!

I wrote “THE STRESS RESPONSE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What sort of attitude do you have towards stress?
  • Have you discovered the power of the breathing space?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

All-thats-needed-is-a

POEM FOR TODAY

P1350135

THE STRESS RESPONSE

We all have known those moments when the chemicals course through,

When our heart is starting pounding and our pressure’s rising too,

And the stress response is surging as it carries us away

Far beyond the equilibrium we hoped was ours today.

It may be it was significant, this something that occurred,

That stirred up our lovely comfort zones and left us all disturbed,

Or maybe on this occasion it was nothing much at all,

But when the stress response gets going it is difficult to stall.

And it really can be wearisome, this constant red alert,

When our body’s on war footing trying to stop us getting hurt,

But when it doesn’t make distinctions ‘bout the level of a threat

Then the stress response gets stuck, and getting stressed is what we get.

And we know we should find refuge, and we would do if we could,

For when we’re flooded out with chemicals that won’t do us much good,

But where to find it, that’s the problem, we have tried so many things,

Well we could look to our body, this same body that stress brings.

For it can counteract the stress response, it’s really very slick,

We have a body with an antidote and that will do the trick,

And all that’s needed is a breathing space that’s long and deep and slow,

And as we feel ourselves relaxing then our stress begins to go.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “THE STRESS RESPONSE” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

Not strictly ACT I know, but if you want to find out more about Dr Hans Selye, then check out the American Institute of Stress website.  It makes for fascinating reading!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-if-things

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

Advertisements

ACT and Compassion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I be more positive towards ???

A:  Show a bit of compassion

ACT is about many things but at its heart it is always about personal growth.

All the things we learn in ACT, Mindfulness, Values Work, Defusion Techniques, Acceptance, Committed Action, Self as Context, they are all helping us to develop the psychological flexibility which will help us lead more meaningful lives, even in the face of life’s challenges.

Learning to show compassion, to ourselves and to others, is one of the most effective tools that we have in our kit-box.  Compassion is soft and strong at the same time.  It is very powerful.  If we are fearful, defensive, anxious, then a bit of compassion can work wonders.

I wrote “A BIT OF COMPASSION” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at showing compassion?
  • Have you discovered the benefits of compassion?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

If-were-in-the-business

POEM FOR TODAY

 

IMG_4105

A BIT OF COMPASSION

A bit of compassion would not come amiss,

‘Stead of acting defensive we could first try this,

We could set aside prejudice, kindness impart,

And find out what it feels like to open our heart.

If we’re used to reacting in a certain way,

Maybe Mind senses trouble and says, “Stay away!”

Then it’s likely we’ve laid down a habit or two

Which precludes being kind as a something we do.

And that means we don’t know how we’d feel if we said,

“Thank you Mind, but today I’ll try kindness instead,

For I’ve seen how on others this kindness bestows

A great aura of warmth which then glows as it grows.”

And we’ve all seen the saints passing goodness around,

Maybe thought that such saints are too thin on the ground,

Not believed that we’re part of that army of good,

But we all have a chance to do good and we should.

Not for reasons of duty, that’s hard and it’s cold,

But to share in the secret a smile can unfold,

For if we’re in the business of personal growth

Then a bit of compassion is good for us both.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “A BIT OF COMPASSION” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

If you are interested in learning more about ACT and Compassion this book looks like a great read.

The book description certainly whets the appetite.

About the Book

“Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is proven effective in the treatment of an array of disorders, including addiction, depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and more. Evidence shows that mindfulness and acceptance exercises help clients connect with the moment, uncover their true values, and commit to positive change. But did you know that compassion focused exercises can also greatly increase clients’ psychological flexibility?

More and more, therapists are finding that the act of compassion-both towards oneself and towards others-can lead to greater emotional and physical well-being, increased distress tolerance, and a broader range of effective responses to stressful situations. One of the best advantages of compassion focused methods is how easily they can be integrated into an ACT approach.”

This is the first book on the market to provide an in-depth discussion of compassion in the context of ACT and other behavioural sciences.  If you, like me, believe in the benefits of compassion, it is great to see it being incorporated into ACT.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Im-going to show

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Flow

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  Where can I find flow?

A:  In the present moment

A lot is written about “Flow“, but what exactly is it?  Well in this instance I am not talking about flow in the usual sense of “going with the flow”, although “going with the flow” could be said to be one of the principal tenets of ACT.

In this instance I am talking about another aspect of flow.  In Positive Psychology flow, also known as the zone, is

“The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.  In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.  Achieving flow is often colloquially referred to as being in the zone.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

One of the great things about flow is that it gives us an opportunity to experience that aspect of ourselves in which everything is in harmony.  In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channelled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

For those of us who have problems with emotions what a wonderful thing to be able to do.  To find and then lose ourselves in an activity in which everything, including our emotions, are in harmony.

Where can we find this experience?  Where can we find this flow?  Only in the present moment.

I wrote “FLOW” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you found activities that trigger the feeling of flow?
  • What sort of things do you lose yourself in?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Oh-yes-a-heart-thats

POEM FOR TODAY

file8611313476846

FLOW

If a heart is full of fervour and a glint is in the eye,

And the words are spilling out without us even having to try,

Then that’s a sign for those amongst us who’re already in the know

That the fire in the belly is a sign we’re in the flow.

It’s a gift beyond all measure, it surpasses any things,

If you’ve been there in the flow you know exactly what flow brings,

It is the time that’s become timeless, it’s the being quite at ease,

It is the feeling that you get just like a bird upon the breeze.

Oh yes, a heart that’s full of fervour is a lovely thing indeed,

It lends a lustre to the spirit and sends spirit to the deed

And of a sudden we’re in action, and it’s easy come and go,

For that’s the prize that is on offer when we’re caught up in the flow.

And so let’s find a bit of fire, let us winkle fervour out,

And let’s allow ourselves to know what flow is really all about,

And let’s not make ourselves a stranger to the fire that lies within

For it waits only for a spark so that our own flow can begin.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “FLOW” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

If you want to find out more about Flow, then Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book is the classic.

It is a great read.

From an ACT perspective the idea of Flow also sits easily.  ACT puts much emphasis on the power of the present moment, the only moment where we can live our life, the only moment where we can experience the feeling of flow.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Im-going flow

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Downtime

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  I’m not sure if where I’m headed is where I want to go.  What now?

A:  Take some downtime

Life is hectic.  We live in a world that is continually demanding more and more of us.  We are so connected that sometimes it feels as if it is virtually impossible to switch off.  In the midst of all this clamour, all this noise, it is easy to get lost.  Sometimes it feels as if we have become strangers to ourselves.  What to do?

ACT suggests that periods of quiet, times when we settle still and become more mindful of what is going on both inside and outside is helpful to us.  When we are on automatic pilot we are not really present to what is going on in our lives.

Sometimes we may prefer that!  Sometimes we deliberately keep ourselves busy to distract ourselves from the reality of our experience.  But we can only do that for so long.  Taking downtime helps us to make sense of what is going on, helps us to make better choices.  It doesn’t have to be an extended period of time.  Even a few moments of being mindful practiced regularly will improve our relationship with ourselves.

I wrote “DOWNTIME” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at taking downtime?
  • Do you remember to be mindful regularly?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

A-bit-of-downtime-coming

POEM FOR TODAY

DSC04652

DOWNTIME

A bit of downtime coming, and a chance to stand apart

From the normal life we’re living, and to listen to our heart

Which may clamour for attention in a world that takes its toll,

Yes a little bit of downtime can do wonders for the soul.

It is hard to glimpse horizons when we’re struggling at sea,

Or perceive the bigger picture when we’re living thoughtlessly,

When one thing leads to another, just like cogs in a machine,

And we don’t know where we’re going and we’re not sure where we’ve been.

Oh yes it’s good to take some downtime, to make time ourselves to know,

To decide if where we’re going is still where we want to go,

And in the midst of our uncertainty be brave enough to say,

“If the way I live’s not working, then I’ll find another way.”

And so if we are due some downtime, and we’ll know if it is due

If our heartstrings have been pulling, for they’re giving us a clue

That we may have lost direction, wandered up a cul-de-sac,

And now this little bit of downtime has a chance to draw us back.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “DOWNTIME” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

I read yesterday that almost £1 billion is being set aside by the British Government in a bid to transform mental health services across the UK.

With one in four people expected to develop a mental health problem this year alone – such as depression and anxiety – and suicide now the leading cause of death for men under 50, the Prime Minister will say it is time to stop sweeping the issue under the carpet.

This is good news!  For the first time, there will be waiting time targets for teenagers with eating disorders.  There will also be a new waiting time target for people experiencing psychosis.  £290 million is pledged towards more beds in mother and baby units, and extra classes for new mothers before and after their baby is born will give 30,000 more women each year until 2020 access to specialist mental healthcare.

There is a recognition that the health of the nation means both physical and mental health and, with a cost of billions to the economy in terms of lost working days and pressures on a creaking NHS, mental health is now emerging as a priority.

Money will be ring-fenced for the Talking Therapies and those of us who have benefitted from ACT and Mindfulness have a responsibility to share the message.

Mindfulness is becoming mainstream.  ACT is one of the therapies of choice.  Let us not be shy to pass the message on.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-some peace

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Dealing with Feelings

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal with difficult feelings?

A:  Learn to watch them come and go.

One of the things I like most about ACT is the way it reminds us that we are more than our feelings, more than our thoughts.  Feelings and thoughts come and go but we, the essential we, are always here.  There is a part of us that doesn’t change, that has been with us from the beginning and will be with us to the end.

There is a part of us, ACT calls it the Observer Self, that is able to watch our thoughts and feelings come and go.  Yes, we are more than our feelings, more than our thoughts.

This is particularly important to remember when we feel the urge to make important decisions.  “Don’t make a permanent decision on temporary feelings” is good advice.  We, the essential we, will still be here tomorrow, but our feelings may not.  They are temporary, they are only passing through.

I wrote “DEALING WITH FEELINGS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you learned not to make permanent decisions on temporary feelings?
  • How do you deal with your feelings?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

_SDI2468

DEALING WITH FEELINGS

Sometimes we will feel flat, you know, sometimes we will feel flat,

In the great array of feelings there is no escaping that,

There’ll be times we’ll wake up cheery in a world brimming with joy,

And there’ll be others we’ll wake weary, everything will then annoy.

How we deal with all these feelings, that’s the challenge that we face,

Will we try to cling too long to some, try others to replace,

Or will we treat them all as equals, just sensations passing by,

Let them come and go quite easy, just like clouds up in the sky.

If we do then we’re enlightened, watching feelings passing through,

Not becoming agitated, but it’s difficult to do,

For it’s only human nature to avoid what we dislike,

But our feelings are like clouds, you know, we don’t know when they’ll strike.

And so we have another option, we can just accept them all,

Take the sunshine with the showers, take the thunder with the squall,

And then just watch them from safe distance, be the sky that’s always here,

And not perturbed by feelings passing, for we know they’ll disappear.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “DEALING WITH FEELINGS” please pass it on, and do leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

I am not leaving the final word to ACT today, but rather to a recent post that I read at the Wellnessworx.com  It really struck a chord with me.

The post is entitled:

Addiction Is Not What We Think It Is

Gabriella introduces a guest speaker by the name of Johaan Hari.  She explains how she had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Johaan’s workshops last year and learned of his past with addiction and how he took his curiosity of addiction to travel the world to speak to scientists and users and find what addiction really is and how it can be helped.

The video makes for compulsive viewing.  If you have struggled with or overcome addiction or know someone who has, check it out.  I am sure that you will find it fascinating.  Hari is a brilliant speaker.  I am sure that ACT would approve!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Ill-make

 

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Horror Stories

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I stop my imagination running wild?

A:  Remember it evolved to keep you safe.  Thank it and come back to the present moment.  Be mindful.

We do have wonderful imaginations.  Our imagination is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, as far as we know.  Our ability to create word pictures, to project into the future and to conjure up all sorts of scenarios is at once a blessing and a curse.  We can anticipate wonderful events and be filled with joy, we can project into the future and be filled with worry, anxiety and fear.

This is the dual edged sword of our imagination.  We can be excited about the future or we can frighten ourselves to death.  In evolutionary terms our minds have developed to keep us safe.  They are therefore more likely to see danger lurking, they are more likely to err on the side of caution.

ACT reminds of this, and we would do well to remember.  When something happens and triggers a full blown horror story, let us remember this is the mind doing its job.  If we can resist embellishing the tale so much the better.

I wrote “MASTER STORYTELLERS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with your horror stories?
  • How have you learned to resist embellishing them?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

 

POEM FOR TODAY

IMG_20150621_214410

MASTER STORY TELLERS

There’s a story in the offing, even now we feel it stir,

It’s the one forever lurking, waiting only to recur

When our mind picks up a signal there is danger now afoot

And our body starts reacting, on alert it now is put.

It’s the old familiar feeling, oh we recognise it well,

As the chemicals start surging and our hormones start to swell,

This is instinct at the ready, our antennae primed and clear,

So let’s thank our body nicely but check out what danger’s here.

There’s no tiger in the bushes, there’s no enemy at the door,

Life and death aren’t in the balance, it’s a story nothing more,

And we’re learning to distinguish what is really going on,

Yes we’re master story tellers but a story will be gone

Without doing us much damage, save for hormones rushing round,

There’s no rustle in the bushes, just our thoughts making a sound,

Bits of language we’re concocting, spinning into quite a tale,

But if we do not embellish it this tale soon starts to pale.

And so let’s make a bit of distance, watch our thinking mind at work,

But deny it those embellishments that send our Mind berserk,

And then just go about our business and find something good to do

And let our story lose its impact as it simply moves on through.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “MASTER STORYTELLERS” please pass it on, and do leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

Imagination is our ability to mentally move ourselves out of the present moment.  So we can go back to the past or forward to the future, all thanks to our wonderful imagination.

And it is wonderful, or it can be.  But remember, imagination can be both a blessing and a curse.  Wonderful memories must compete with regrets; hope and excitement must battle worry and fear.

If our imaginations are running wild, driving us mad and frightening us to death, what can we do?

ACT reminds us that we can always come back to the present moment.  We don’t need our imagination to experience the present moment.  Why?  Because we are already here.  To experience the present moment we only need awareness.  And that means practicing our mindfulness skills.

It is mindfulness that can stop our imagination running wild.

For some wonderful resources on Mindfulness check out the Treasury of ACT Resources Page.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Thinkers and Thoughts

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I develop a better relationship with my thoughts?

A:  Remember, you are the thinker not the thought.

If we needed reminding that, “We are the Thinker, not the Thought”, then Rodin’s wonderful sculpture, “The Thinker”, should do the trick!

When I first discovered ACT I can remember the Tutor saying this to the group, and at the time I did not get it at all.

I was so fused with my stories, with my thoughts, that I couldn’t understand that my thoughts weren’t necessarily true, not necessarily very important even.  To me my thoughts were very definitely true and important.  I was thinking them and so they must be!  I took my thoughts very seriously.

It took a long time for me to come to grips with the idea of a distinction between me, the Thinker, and the thoughts that I created.

These are not easy concepts and at times I still fuse with my thoughts and stories.  When I do that I know that I am in trouble.  That’s when the Thought Defusion Techniques of ACT are so important.

I wrote “THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT” to remind me not to take my thoughts so seriously.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you take your thoughts too seriously?
  • Can you make a distinction between The Thinker and the Thought?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

file5301305395463

THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT

Let’s remember it’s our thinking causes problems, that’s a fact,

But let’s not fall into the trap of thinking thoughts we think are facts,

For they are only our imaginings, and every mind will know

It’s the thinker not the thoughts themselves that really run the show.

It’s so easy to confuse it, to believe our thoughts are true,

But they’re only bits of language, strings of words just passing through,

And it helps if we can label them, these stories we conceive,

Until they lose a bit of impact, we’re becoming less naïve.

For when we see ourselves as thinkers we’re less likely to succumb

To the thoughts that we are thinking, we can watch them as they come

And then go, if we will let them, just like leaves upon a stream,

And we’re not caught up in their eddies, we know thoughts aren’t all they seem.

So we can choose to treat them differently, detach as they float by

For now we have a fresh perspective with our skilful thinker’s eye,

And we are free to spring the thinking trap in which we once were caught

Because we’ve stumbled on the secret, we’re the thinker not the thought.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

 If you enjoyed, “THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT” please pass it on, and do leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

Moving on from the Thinker and the Thought , ACT also introduces the concepts of the Thinking Self and the Observer Self.  These are not easy concepts to understand, and yet they lie at the heart of ACT.

This is the explanation that Oliver, Hill and Morris give in their book:

“In ACT, we talk about our “Thinking Self”, Self as Content,  and our “Observing Self”, Self as Context.  The Thinking Self is that constant stream of thoughts and images that runs through our minds, almost every moment we are awake; the Observing Self is the place from which we notice all that mind-stuff, as well as every other part of our experience – both the world inside us and the world outside.”

There are different metaphors that ACT uses to try to convey the distinction.  The leaves on the stream, the waves on the sea, the clouds floating across the sky.

When we can see our thoughts as bits of content passing through we will not be so attached to them.   We will be able to stand back and watch them come and go without getting so worked up.

Just as the stream is not bothered by a few leaves or the sea pays little attention to the antics of a few waves or the sky does not get into a lather about a few clouds, we too can be more relaxed about a few thoughts.  We are bigger than our thoughts.  We are the stream, the sea, the sky.  We are Self as Context.

If you want to find out more about Self as Context then check out Russ Harris’ book

Product Details

This is a brilliant book from one of the leading trainers and authors of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Russ Harris has the knack of making even complex concepts seem simple and understandable.  A great read for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne