The Distress Tolerance Skill ACCEPTS is typically the FIRST intervention that I teach to my clients who just can not bounce back from high/extreme/big emotions.
We start with Activities and the trick is to FULLY throw yourself into the activity for a set amount of time. Set a timer for 15/30/45 minutes. Check in with yourself at each timer and see how you are feeling. Remember this will NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM, but it will hopefully being to bring you down from the intense emotion and possibly move you into Problem Solving.
Contributing is one that is harder to do and takes a good “shift” in your mind. This is exactly what we want. We want you to think of others at this time. Remember to use the timer with this to so you can check in and make sure you are not making “irrational” decisions. This is a good time to go through your closet and make a pile of things you can donate. The same for you pantry and any excess you might have.
Comparisons is not what you might be thinking of. In fact, comparisons of what people are doing and you are not is NOT what we are asking from you. We are asking that you find a moment from your past you had something really tough to get through, and how did you get through that. How long did it take for the intensity of the movement to pass? What is something from that past experience you can pull from and help you during this tough situation?
Moving on to Emotions, this is where we want to figure a way to validate our emotions and change them if needed. For instance, if I am feeling sad, then maybe I have a playlist of sad music that matches my mood and doesn’t make me feel alone. I can also do something to make me feel opposite of my emotion. Again, if I am sad, then maybe I want to watch some funny videos on You Tube or something silly on Netflix.
The Push Away skill is an abstract concept that involves you visualizing yourself putting the distressing event, thought or problem in a box and then putting that box on a shelf and walking way. You can also physically do this skill. The caveat is that YOU HAVE TO COME BACK TO THE PROBLEM! Remember to use the timer for this, we do not want to run from our problems or avoid them forever. In fact, when we come back and problem solve them we tend to grow in independence, self assuraduness and self esteem.
With the Thoughts skill we are trying to re-balance to middle path by trying to do actives that do not involve emotions. Such as naming fruits and vegetables in alphabetic order. You can even find some easy math worksheet or word puzzles. It is really important that if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed to try hard to come back to the task at hand and block out the intense emotions ( temporarily ).
The last is a great go to with anyone who’s intense emotions cause a physical reaction or cause a numbness. Sensations is about regaining the attention to your body and learning what you have control over. These ideas are NOT suppose to cause additional destress or pain. This is really about using your senses to “snap” you out of the intense emotion. Like eating sour or spicy foods/candy. Drinking extremely cold water or holding ice.
Remember these are QUICK interventions and not ment to solve the problem.
We can not live our life in distraction MoodRachael Julstrom