Knowing how to handle ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) can reduce anxiety and increase wellbeing. Recently, in ANTs—Automatic Thoughts Can Ruin Your Picnic, I explored how ANTs can be pesky little creatures that get in the way of our living life fully. These automatic negative thoughts that pop into our minds in certain situations can cause great stress and anxiety. They can even intensify depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. We all have ANTs (they’re not exclusive to mental illness). Unfortunately, it’s natural for the human mind to get stuck in unhelpful thought patterns that drag us down. There are ways to deal with ANTs so they don’t ruin the proverbial picnic of your life. Here are three approaches whose effectiveness has been proven by research.
How to Handle ANTs with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach to healing that focuses on our thoughts. A fundamental belief of CBT is that events, situations, and people aren’t problems; instead, our thoughts about those things are the problem. Therefore, if we change our thinking, we change our perception, interpretation, outlook, and overall happiness.
To get rid of the ANTs at our picnic, thus reducing anxiety and increasing wellbeing, CBT has us identify our negative thoughts and then look for evidence to prove that the thoughts and beliefs are faulty. This approach is supported by research and is helpful for many people (nothing is helpful to everyone, which is why there are so many therapeutic healing approaches).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Lets You Change Your Focus
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an approach to mental health and wellbeing that doesn’t have people fighting with and focusing on their ANTs but instead has people shift their attention to their values, those things they hold dear, and actions they can take to create the reality they desire.
ACT allows people to define what it is that makes a great picnic and take specific measures to enjoy it. This healing approach acknowledges that life does contain ants (and helps us accept that fact), but we don’t have to let them ruin things for us.
Passions, Actions, & Relaxations Are Stronger than ANTs
Another way to deal with ANTs, of getting them out of your picnic, is to be intentional about the picnic you create. We can’t create a perfect, ant-free picnic. Life contains problems and challenges, some small and some big. We do have negative thought patterns that of course we can identify and replace but not completely and permanently eradicate. By pursuing our passions, taking positive actions, and practicing self-care that relaxes and rejuvenates, we can turn our attention to things other than ants and ANTs and break free from the anxiety they cause.
To be passionate about books is a happy passion indeed. Books hold great value for our mental health and wellbeing. This infographic shows just seven of the many positive things books can do for our picnic.
Fill your picnic basket with good books, lie back, and enjoy getting lost in a book. It’s a great way to beat the ants and ANTs and enhance your mental health and wellbeing.