Drop Anchor

Rough storms prove the strength of our anchors

Drop Anchor seems like a good name for this blog because it’s literally what you are being asked to do. Stop the engines, slow down for a quick moment or two, drop anchor to bring you to a full stop, and consider the message.

Dropping anchor is also the first topic we’ll cover. It’s a useful in-the-moment skill for handling difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations more effectively. It helps short circuit reactivity, disrupt rumination, develop more self-control and focus your attention. Future notes will include practical strategies, quotes, data and information. Please share your thoughts and ideas!

How does it work? Dropping anchor involves playing around with a simple formula: ACE
A: Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
C: Connect with your body
E: Engage in what you are doing

A: Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
• Silently and kindly acknowledge whatever is ‘showing up’ inside you, thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensation, urges
• Take the stance of a curious scientist, observing what’s going on in your inner world
• If possible, silently put into words whatever you notice, using the phrase ‘I’m noticing’. For example, silently say to yourself ‘I’m noticing anxiety’ or ‘I’m noticing feelings of anger’ or ‘I’m noticing worrying’ or ‘I’m noticing my mind racing wildly’

And while continuing to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, also ….

C: Connect with your body
• Come back into and connect with your physical body. You could try some or all of the following methods:
o Slowly pushing your feet hard into the floor.
o Slowly straightening up your back and spine; if sitting, sitting upright and forward in your chair.
o Slowly pressing your fingertips together
o Slowly stretching your arms or neck, shrugging your shoulders.
o Slowly breath into 5 counts and out to 7 or 8

You are not trying to turn away from, escape, avoid or distract yourself from what is happening in your inner world, you are expanding your focus. The aim is to remain aware of your thoughts and feelings, continue to acknowledge their presence …. and at the same time, come back into and connect with your body.

Aware of thoughts and feelings
come back into and connect with your body by moving it

And while acknowledging your thoughts and feelings, and connecting with your body, also ….

E: Engage in what you’re doing
• Get a sense of where you are and refocus your attention on the activity you are doing
o Look around the room and notice 5 things you can see
o Notice 3 or 4 things you can hear
o Notice what you can smell or taste or sense in your nose and mouth
o Notice the activity you’re doing, and give it your full attention

End the exercise by giving your full attention to the task or activity at hand. Ideally, run through the ACE cycle slowly 3 or 4 times, to turn it into a 2- 3 minute exercise. Please don’t skip the “A”. It’s so important to keep acknowledging the thoughts and feelings, especially is they are difficult or uncomfortable.

Remember: You can practice anytime anyplace in as quick as 30 seconds. Practice often!

FREE AUDIO RECORDINGS If you wish, you can download some free audio recordings of ‘dropping anchor’ exercises, varying from 1 minute to 11 minutes in length. You can listen to these and use them as a guide to help you develop this skill.

You can download or stream them from the left hand box on this webpage : https://www.actmindfully.com.au/free-stuff/free-audio/

Adapted from © 2020, Russ Harris www.TheHappinessTrap.com