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Taking ACTion on anxiety in the workplace with Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

opinions | 3 min read

Excessive worrying, rapid heart-rate, churning stomach and bodily tension are just some of the symptoms we experience when feeling anxious.

While occasional anxiety is normal and can be good for us, when our worries become persistent or excessive anxiety can negatively impact our lives.

Anxiety disorders are now the most common mental health concern globally and the second most common work-related health problem in the UK, accounting for 44% of work-related ill-health.

What can be done to tackle this rising wave of anxiety in the workplace? BioBeats spoke with Dr Rachel Whatmough about how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers hope.

Dr Rachel Whatmough is a Clinical Psychologist, with over 14 years of experience working within the public and private sectors, and Founder of Work With Wellbeing – a company that delivers bespoke wellbeing and workplace mental health packages to support businesses to become happy, healthy and more productive.

Read the introduction below or download our extended guide which includes:

  1. What signs you can look for in employees who may be experiencing anxiety
  2. What steps to take to support employees experiencing anxiety
  3. How to take a preventative approach to mental health in the workplace, and tackle mental health stigma

Download the guide

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

ACT is an innovative type of psychological therapy which is all about accepting what is out of our control and then committing to living full, meaningful lives.

ACT is made up of six core processes:

  1. Contact with the present moment
  2. Acceptance
  3. Defusion
  4. Self-as-context
  5. Values-based living
  6. Committed action

All of these contribute to the development of what is known as psychological flexibility, the ability to stay in contact with the present moment regardless of unpleasant thoughts, feelings or sensations and instead focus on moving toward goals.

How can ACT help employees to tackle anxiety?

ACT can help individuals to understand their emotional state by connecting with the present moment, rather than ruminating on the past or catastrophizing about the future, which are both common behaviours with anxiety.

ACT can help individuals to stop struggling against painful emotions, but instead accept them as a normal part of human experience. Then, by becoming more mindful they can focus on what’s really important to them to lead the life they want.

With ACT now in the BioBeats app, how do you think this will help support mental health in the workplace?

There are two things I think are really exciting about the BioBeats app for anxiety in the workplace. Firstly, the potential for prevention over cure, of which I am a big believer! Helping employees to connect with and understand their mental health while they still have the emotional resource to do so.

Secondly, I’m a huge fan of taking psychological approaches out of the therapy room and making them accessible to all. The approach BioBeats is taking really supports that.

If people would like to know more, how can they best get in contact with you?

I’d love to hear from anyone thinking about the wellbeing of their workforce. You can contact me through our website Work With Wellbeing or connect with me on Linkedin.

Download the guide