The pandemic is not the first time we have encountered uncertainty in our daily lives. Every moment of every day is uncertain, but before the pandemic, we had a greater sense of normalcy within the structure and predictability of our daily living.
We knew our work schedule, our work location, and where our kids would be that day for school or daycare. Today those things can change very quickly in regards to our daily structure and routine, which can then increase the level of stress and suffering for most individuals on a psychological level.
For those who practice and invite the concepts of psychological flexibility, especially during times of uncertainty and change, the intensity of suffering might be less intense than for those who don’t invite said mindset.
Being open and flexible to change as it happens can invite resilience and less psychological suffering for those living in the world today. In the book, “Who Moved my Cheese” by Dr. Spencer Johnson, he talks about the importance of being open to change and provides six lessons to keep in mind during times of change.
1. Change Happens: They keep moving the cheese. Accept that change is inevitable 2. Anticipate Change: Get ready for the cheese to move. Have an expectation that change can happen 3. Monitor Change: Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old. Keep updated so you can anticipate change 4. Adapt to Change Quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese 5. Change: Move with the cheese. Adapt to the changes 6. Enjoy Change: Enjoy the taste of new cheese
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) talks about reducing suffering on a day-to-day basis with the hexaflex and its six points of reference. The hexaflex is a way to educate people on how to invite psychological flexibility to their everyday lives.
Below is a list of the six concepts from the ACT hexaflex adapted from Dr. Nesh Nikolic. If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate these concepts into your daily life, please visit psychologytoday.com or therapyden.com to find a therapist near you that incorporates ACT into their treatment with clients.
1. Present Moment: Becoming acquainted with sensory experiences in the present moment. Develop a platform of awareness 2. Values: Defining what is most important to an individual in their life. Recognizing qualities of behavior one would like to live in line with 3. Committed Action: Taking steps towards valued goals while experiencing uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Committing to the valued action, rather than the outcome, can bring greater vitality 4. Self as Context: Contacting the ‘observing self’, a part of you that is able to witness thoughts, feelings, and actions at any moment 5. Cognitive Defusion: Notice the process of thought rather than getting caught up in the content. Through observing the process of thinking, thoughts that may have previously led to significant distress or unworkable behavior weaken 6. Experiential Acceptance: Practicing non-judgmental awareness to internal and external events. Through this practice, one recognizes that there are some things that are out of our control and that if we let go of the struggle with this, we can make decisions about the part we have control over- our actions