Sometimes stress is unavoidable. You can’t control everything in your world. The economy, your relationships and health are all in part, out of your control. As a result, you can find yourself in uncertain and stressful circumstances.
This stress may be the result of one event, but often it is multiple stressful events occurring at the same time that leave you feeling pressure.
DBT Distress Tolerance Skills are designed to help you survive crisis. They are not meant as long term strategies to improve your life, but are essential skills to get your through that moment of crisis. Strategies that can help you in times of intense stress include:
- Distraction. Sometimes when you’re stressed you get stuck in worry and rumination. Finding something that takes your mind off your stressors for even a few moments can give you the break you need to deal with them over time. Exercise, calling a friend, reading books and watching movies are all distractions that can help during times of intense stress.
- Self-Soothe. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Often, during times of stress we’re very hard on ourselves. We judge our abilities and feel inadequate to handle our problems. Incorporating soothing activities into your daily routine can make you more able to handle times of tension and stress. Listen to soothing music, look at a beautiful picture or the trees in fall, bake cookies or eat a favorite soothing food.
- Relax your body and mind. Try activities that will calm your body and mind. Try progressive relaxation exercises—tense and relax muscles throughout your body. Do one thing at a time, with all your concentration. Create a soothing image.
- Think of the pros and cons. Keep yourself motivated to deal with the stress in positive ways by thinking through the pros and cons of managing your stress.
- Breathe. Focus on your breathing. Deep breathing or focusing your mind by counting your breath can help to calm and center you.
Please use the comment section to add strategies that work for you when you’re in crisis or the midst of overwhelming stress. For more on the topic of stress, see my previous post "Are You Stressed in America."