Fortunately there are many useful techniques and skills that can help us function and adapt to our particular circumstances.
Genuinely learning and practicing the techniques below will enhance your wellbeing.
Progressive muscle relaxation technique
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a way of systematically going through the body and identifying tension and focusing on release of that tension. PMR can be very useful to focus us away from obsessive thoughts allowing us to direct our attention to what is needed or to allow us to fall asleep.
A search on the internet will reveal many different versions of PMR. It can be useful to get an audio version that you can play to yourself when needed.
For a written example try this PMR from the Centre for Clinical Interventions.
Listen to some examples of PMR in the videos below.
Exposure therapy for anxiety
Exposure therapy is a behavioural approach used to treat anxiety disorders. It involves exposing a client to their source of anxiety within controlled environments and usually in a stepped approach so the client can build tolerance gradually to the anxiety causing stimulus.
Defusion techniques for 'busy brains'
When we are experiencing “busy brain” our thoughts can become fused. This is called cognitive fusion. Cognitive fusion is when we see our thoughts as…
- Reality - as though what we are thinking is happening here and now
- The truth - we literally believe them
- Important - we take them seriously and give them our full attention
- An order - we obey them
- Wise - we assume they know what is best and follow their advice
Cognitive defusion is a technique we can use to enable us to
- Look at our thoughts from the outside, rather than from the inside
- Notice our thoughts as opposed to being caught up in them
- See our thoughts for what they are, not what they seem to be
By using defusing techniques
- Thoughts may become merely sounds, words, stories or bits of language passing through our mind.
- Thoughts may or may not be true. We don’t have to automatically believe them.
- Thoughts may or may not be important. We don’t have to pay attention to them.
- Thoughts may or may not be orders. We don’t have to obey them.
- Thoughts may or may not be wise. We don’t have to follow their advice.
The aim of defusion is
- To reduce the influence/impact of unhelpful thinking processes on our behaviour/wellbeing.
- To allow us to be more present and engaged in our lives rather than our thoughts.
- To facilitate our awareness, particularly that of our mind in order to increase psychological flexibility.
It is important to note that the aim of defusion is not to feel better or even get rid of our thoughts – although this might be an unintentional outcome.