Some practical self-care steps for living in the “New Normal” by applying Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT).
I was drawn to an on-line lecture covering the practical steps I, and others, could consider putting into practice in order to personally deal more effectively with the unprecedented challenges of “Lockdown” and other Covid impacts. Dr Russ Harris, a key proponent of ACT, has produced an acronym – FACE COVID to help us remember what we can do when we become suddenly aware of excessive anxiety within ourselves or others. (In such times it is, of course, an entirely rational reaction to feel concern and anxiety).
When I first heard about ACT, I thought it sounded a bit “hippyish” which was both appealing and, I thought, impractical for busy modern lives- “who realistically has time to mindful?”. And I wondered if “Acceptance” was just another word for “let yourself off the hook of striving for high performance” i.e. it was for wimps. I have subsequently realised that ACT offers the potential for me and my coachees to accept our humanity and to commit to moving towards more meaningful lives. I found the webinar, presented by Associate Professor Nuno Ferreira, of Nicosia University, insightful and it energised me to share his and Russ Harris’ work. So I’ve outlined a definition of ACT and the steps advocated and you can make your own mind up.
( I have listed additional links and resources should anyone want to read more about the origins and evidence around ACT).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a coaching and therapy approach which encourages people to make progress through the development of psychological flexibility. It invites people to: open up to unpleasant feelings; to learn not to overreact to them or to try to eliminate them (by overindulging in unhealthy/unproductive behaviours); to learn not to avoid situations where such feelings are invoked; and instead to embrace their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them. The approach combines mindfulness skills with the practice of self-acceptance. It helps people to be present with, and accept, what life brings them and to planfully “move toward valued behaviours”.
F = Focus on what you can control C = Committed action
A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings O = Opening up
C = Come back into your body V = Values
E = Engage in what you are doing I = Identify resources
D = Disinfect Distance
The Overall key is indeed to Focus on:
- What you can actually control?
- How you can choose to behave? Right here, right now ?
- And when anxiety gets too much? When you can’t stop worrying? When things just feel so out of control? What actions you can take?
Notes and references
Steven C. Hayes developed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 1982 in order to create a mixed approach which integrates both cognitive and behavioural therapy.
HWBInspiration co-founders, Su & Claire, are grateful to our Associate HWBI Ninjas for sharing their knowledge, skill and insights.