ACT and Expansion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE of inspirational quotes, poems and other act goodies!

Q:  How can I reduce my stress?

A:  Acknowledge it, accept it and expand your life!

Image result for inspirational picture quotes stress

When things happen to stress us out it is very easy to give in, give up, dwell on what’s happening and go round and round in endless spirals trying to force solutions.  We may get so caught up in our thinking that we literally can’t fight our way out.  The more we think the more confused we get.  Feelings surge through us that we can’t control and we feel worn out, weary and helpless.

Stress is part of all of our lives.  Some is real and some is imagined.  Some we take in our stride and some we feel unable to manage.  Stress is everywhere.  It is not going away any time soon.  ACT gives us some useful tools to deal with our stress.  It doesn’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t promise miracle cures, it doesn’t encourage us to deny it, or decry it or fight it or flee from it.

What ACT does encourage us to do is to acknowledge it and accept it.  Easier said than done I hear you say.  And it is true it is not easy to accept something we don’t like, didn’t ask for and want gone.  But sometimes acceptance is all we can do.  And with acceptance comes a certain peace.  When we stop struggling to change what we cannot change then we are free to concentrate on what we can change.  There is power here instead of powerlessness, there is strength instead of weakness, there is hope instead of despair.

Expansion is the key to reducing our stress.  When we start to focus on changing what we can and start doing it then our lives get bigger.  As our lives begin to expand our stress starts to shrink.

I wrote “EXPANSION” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you deal with stress?
  • Do you think expansion might help you?
  • 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

EXPANSION

Living well and stressing less, well wouldn’t that be fine,

To accept our thoughts and feelings, and not let them undermine

An activity we’ve scheduled, an event that we have planned,

For we’re learning living well means that we let our lives expand.

We make space for thoughts and feelings, we allow them to pass through,

If we don’t put up a fight this is what thoughts and feelings do,

And we watch them from a vantage point, creator of it all,

They parade in all their finery, but we have the last call.

For we’ve learned we’re not their captives, we have choices, we can say,

“Whilst I thank you for your company, I’ve other plans today,

And although you weren’t invited, please feel free to join me now,

I can’t spare you much attention, but I’ll squeeze you in somehow.”

And when we are in the driving seat, and looking all around,

Tuning in to all our senses, bent on going where we’re bound,

Then though thoughts and feelings mutter this was not their plan at all,

We remind them they’re just visiting, it’s we have the last call.

And it’s quite a revelation that this choice is ours to take,

That we needn’t be held hostage by demands our feelings make,

For although we might prefer we could eliminate all stress,

The truth is it’s expansion helps us live well and stress less.

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed, “EXPANSION” 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 always like to recommend something ACT related in this section and normally I would ensure that whatever I recommend is something I have already sampled.  I haven’t had a chance to look at today’s recommendation but the title caught my attention and seemed so relevant to today’s post that I am recommending it anyway.

I’ll be having a look at it myself as I have a feeling it is going to be a good read.

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 Letting Go

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  Nothing seems to be working.  I’m stuck.  Now what?

A:  Let Go!

surrender

Learning to let go is a central premise of ACTLetting go of trying to control our uncomfortable feelings, our difficult thoughts.   Letting go of our stories, our preconceived notions, our judgements.  Letting go sounds like it should be a huge relief, but so often we still struggle.  Paradoxically it can be more difficult to let go than to hang on.

Learning to lay down the rope, to lie still in the sinking sand, to choose to leave the battle field while the war rages around us.  These are metaphors that ACT uses to show us that there is another way.  When we are constantly trying to force solutions we do not give things a chance to work through naturally.  When we are tempted to interfere prematurely we cannot know how things would have developed otherwise.

Taking no action is still an action.  Sometimes taking no action is the wisest course.

I wrote “A NATURAL UNFOLDING” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What do you think about letting go?
  • Is inaction a positive action in your life?
  • 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

When-we-see-the-bigger

POEM FOR TODAY

file000668753617

A NATURAL UNFOLDING

We tell ourselves such stories, all the must dos and the shoulds,

All the times we fail to nurture all those tender little buds,

The new project just emerging or the daydreams bearing fruits,

We’re so bound up in our stories that we choke them at their roots.

We may fail to give them growth time, it’s results we want and now,

So we forget that hibernation incubates the seeds somehow

Until they’re ready for the blooming, it’s a natural process and

If we understand when to let go then God can take a hand.

And then we won’t be driven by stories that just masquerade as real,

We will know they’re only words made up and words we can repeal,

And when we see the bigger picture and we learn to leave some space

Then things begin to start unfolding at a far more natural pace.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “A NATURAL UNFOLDING” 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 …..

For the control freaks amongst us it can come as a bit of a shock to realise that in ACT terms:

“Control is the problem, not the solution.”

There is an interesting article, A Non Technical Overview of ACT, written by Russ Harris at thehappinesstrap.com entitled:

“Embracing your Demons:  an Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.”

It explains the fundamentals of ACT in layman’s terms and is well worth a read.

I particularly liked the part about Control.  If you want to read more about the “quicksand” and “struggle switch” metaphors and the concepts of “clean discomfort” and “dirty discomfort” this is the place to go.

It was a timely reminder for me.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will 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 Feeling the Feelings

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I stop my feelings getting in the way?

A:  Accept them and take action anyway.

We can get very attached to our feelings.  The good ones we want to hang on to, the bad ones we want to get rid of.  Many of us may spend a good deal of our time trying to alter our feelings.  Many of us may feel that we cannot get on with our lives until we feel better.  A lot of time gets wasted this way.  A lot of opportunities are lost because we are waiting for that elusive feel good feeling.  We tell ourselves that we cannot do this, go there, try this, risk that until we are feeling at our absolute tip-top best.

ACT, however, tells us something quite different.  ACT says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”  ACT says, “Don’t wait.  Take action right now, irrespective of how you feel.”  ACT says, “You can’t control how you feel, but you can control what you do.”

No matter how small, we can always take a meaningful action in line with our values.  That action has the potential to change our feelings.  It isn’t guaranteed.  ACT isn’t in the business of making those promises.  What it is in the business of is helping us to create a more meaningful life despite our feelings.  And feelings pass anyway.  They are transitory, like clouds in the sky.

I wrote “FLIRTING WITH A SMILE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you been able to feel the fear and do it anyway?
  • How do you put your feelings in their place?
  • 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

When-our-spirits-are-all

POEM FOR TODAY

file0001958819012

FLIRTING WITH A SMILE

Oh wouldn’t it be wonderful to always feel alright,

To wake up and greet each morning with a disposition bright,

And to never know discomfort nor to feel uncertainty,

Well it might be wonderful but it is not reality.

For we’re full of little nuances, there’s no escaping that,

There’ll be times we’ll feel uplifted, there’ll be times when we’ll feel flat,

And sometimes life may seem wearisome, when all is dull and grey,

But for all our wishful thinking some things will not go away.

So we’ll just have to live with them, find a better way to cope,

When we’re feeling our most hopeless, find a way to reach for hope,

And when our spirits are all deadened and for now we’ve lost our spark,

Keep the faith for long enough to find our way out of the dark.

For we will wake up one morning when the wheel has somehow turned,

When we’re feeling more light-hearted, our concerns somehow adjourned

And we start planning little actions that will make life seem worthwhile,

And we’re not sure how it happened but we’re flirting with a smile.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

 If you enjoyed, “FLIRTING WITH A SMILE” 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 recently read an interesting article about ACT and Feelings at anxietyhappens.com.  Anyone who is familiar with the feeling of Anxiety would probably be quick to tell you that it is not a particularly pleasant feeling.  I can vouch for that!  Anxiety is an old familiar friend to me.

In the past I have certainly not welcomed it, and have spent considerable time and effort in trying to get rid of it.  However, since discovering ACT, I have changed my attitude somewhat.

When anxiety visits me, which it still does from time to time, I am more likely to dredge up my Mindfulness skills and take some time to just be with it.  Exploring it gently and with curiosity, as ACT recommends we do, is less likely to increase my stress, my anxiety.

What do you think?

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will allow

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 Stress (2)

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal better with my stress?

A:  Make it your friend!

stress friend

Sometimes, just sometimes you read something or you hear something that stops you dead in your tracks.

That happened to me when I stumbled upon a TED Talk give by Psychologist Kelly McGonigal.

“Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.”

In the video Kelly makes a powerful case for saying that,

“Stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case.”

She goes further too by suggesting that there is a little known upside to stress which can be remarkably beneficial to us.

I found her talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend” fascinating.  It made me re-think my attitude to stress.   See what you think?

I wrote “THIS STRESSFUL STATE” to remind me that stress does not have to be pubic enemy number one.  With a change of attitude it can become our friend.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What is your attitude to stress?
  • Are you prepared to have a re-think?
  • 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

When-we-see-our-stress

POEM FOR TODAY

Water garden MGD©

THIS STRESSFUL STATE

It could be that we’ve got it wrong, our attitude to stress,

For although we may feel better when we’re not under duress,

Stress is not for demonising, like the enemy at the gate,

It has served us well for ages, so what is this stressful state?

Well it happens when we’re challenged, or we feel we’re under threat,

Fight and flight response is triggered, there to aid us and abet,

And as body starts reacting and our instincts quick kick in,

There is something rather wonderful now happening within.

For when chemicals start surging we’re becoming more alert,

We are poised for fight or flight now, we’ve received the magic spurt,

And we’re ready now for action as adrenaline pumps through,

And if we can change our attitude our body can change too.

For when we view stress more kindly, not as something to abhor,

And applaud the chain reaction as an asset not a flaw,

Then we send a powerful message to the body from the mind

Saying, “We’re stressed, but not to worry,” then the body acts in kind.

And then we can reap the benefits the stress response ignites

When we’re not busy telling stories of how stress the body blights,

For when we see our stress as positive, our evolutionary friend,

Then we no longer make it toxic and our fear of it can end.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “THIS STRESSFUL STATE” 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 found this TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal to be very ACT-like.  Like ACT it is based on the latest scientific research and reinforces a lot of what we learn in ACT.

Kelly says that after a decade of portraying stress as an enemy, the new science of stress has made her change her mind.  Her goal now as a health psychologist has changed.

“I no longer want to get rid of your stress.  I want to make you better at stress.”

Kelly also introduces one of the most under-appreciated aspects of the stress response.  She says that stress makes us social.  She goes on to discuss the importance of the stress hormone oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone” with all its attendant benefits.

Kelly concludes her talk by saying:

“Stress gives us access to our hearts.  The compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and yes, your pounding physical heart, working so hard to give you strength and energy.  And when you choose to view your stress in this way you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement  You’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges.  And you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.”

What a great talk!  I loved it.

In the Q and A section at the end perhaps the most ACT-like statement of all and I leave you with it now.

“One thing we know for certain is that chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.  And so I would say that’s really the best way to make decisions, is to go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

Rings a bell doesn’t it?

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Today-I-will-put-to-an

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 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