ACT and Mindfulness

What is ACT? 

One of the therapies which the service offers is called “Acceptance Commitment Therapy” or “ACT”.  You may have found that the “bombshell” of being diagnosed with cancer and the side effects of treatment has put your “normal” life “on hold”.  For some, this means that the things that were important in your life coupled with the things you used to enjoy in life are temporarily lost.  ACT aims to support you to find different ways to reclaim the things that you value in your life.  It focuses on helping you to set yourself small goals to restart the things that you value most in your life, with an emphasis on the importance of your relationships, health, self- development, work and recreational activities.

ACT also helps you to accept the things you cannot change and teaches a technique called  “mindfulness” to manage the difficult emotions and thoughts which understandably arise as a result of having cancer, and perhaps living with ongoing uncertainty about what the future holds.

What is mindfulness?

Do you ever travel on a journey and realise that you don’t know how you’ve got to where you are? Do you ever have a shower and forget which parts of your body you’ve already washed? We could describe this as being on ‘automatic pilot’ or ‘mindless’. We all do this from time to time: do things without paying full attention. Our minds find it hard to focus on the very present moment and are often busy trying to solve problems, imagining, thinking or planning ahead…our minds are amazing!

But what about when our minds struggle with problems that can’t be solved, imagine awful things which may not ever happen or dwell on upsetting past events which we cannot change? These thoughts can preoccupy us and make us feel down or worried. Our ‘mindlessness’ can mean that we miss pleasurable moments in daily life.

Living with cancer can mean that you have had many difficult experiences relating to diagnosis and treatment, which play on your mind. You may be less active and so have more time for your mind to dwell on upsetting thoughts. This can lead to you trying to push these thoughts away, but this takes effort and often means that the thoughts pop into your head more often.

Mindfulness can be an alternative to this pattern of thinking. Mindfulness is simply a way to train your attention and teaches us skills to focus on the present moment without judging or getting caught up in difficult thoughts or emotions. Thousands of studies have shown the physical and mental benefits of mindfulness. If you are interested in trying mindfulness, click on the audio clips below:

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Mindfulness Breathing image

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Reflecting upon your values image

Thought defusion image

If any of the clips do not play automatically, or if you would like to save the files to your computer, please right click the buttons and press "save target as" to download them.

Contact details for other helpful services can be found here