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  • Dr Rachel Lee

Dropping Anchor: Three Steps for Tolerating Strong Emotions

Updated: Jun 19

We all have times when our emotions build up and become intense. At these times it's very common to get fused with our thoughts and feelings and we can find ourselves reacting in unhelpful ways, based on our emotions and assumptions. Dropping Anchor is a mindfulness practice developed by Russ Harris, an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy trainer and expert, to create a holding space when we feel overwhelmed. Mindfulness practices help us to slow down and connect with the present moment, which puts us in a better position to choose how to respond.


The aim of Dropping Anchor is to (i) notice how you are feeling and what you are thinking and at the same time become aware of the present moment by (ii) connecting with your body and (iii) engaging with the external world through the five senses.


Imagine a boat that is out at sea in a wild storm. The anchor holds it steady until the storm passes, after which it can set sail again and continue its journey. The anchor doesn't get rid of the storm, but it minimises the damage of the storm and stops the boat moving off course and travelling to undesirable or unplanned locations.