You wake up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, and turn on the news (or peruse it on your phone). These days, it seems as if every news story is a bad one: natural disasters, crimes, political unrest. It’s stressful.
In a recent Huffington Post article entitled “How To Maintain Your Emotional Wellbeing During Tragic News Events,” writer Rachel Moss offers some tips for recovering from such negative news stories. Her subheading reads:
“We always have a choice about how we respond.”
This is the guiding principle behind distress tolerance and DBT as whole. Whether you are looking at images on the news or experiencing tragedies in your own life, distress can take a toll on our mental health and cause us to behave in irrational ways.
We may find ourselves in a slump of depression, lashing out at the people we love, or turning to destructive behaviors. In each of these cases, DBT skills can help us choose a better response.
Do the Opposite.
If you’re swiping through upsetting social media posts, stop. When you want to scream or cry, force yourself to make a silly face. Having a hard time getting out of bed? Take your dog for a walk. Whatever you’re doing, do the opposite. Steer your mind and body away from the source of your stress.
Go Back to Gratitude & Positivity.
In the spirit of doing the opposite, remember the things in your life that you are thankful for. Indulge in some good, 0ld-fashioned happiness. Eat your favorite food, light a candle with your favorite scent, and listen to your favorite song. Give back to your friends, family, and community. Surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people.
You may have heard the term “fact-checking.” Fact-checking forces us to back up our feelings with the reality of a situation. This means facing those stressful thoughts, but also acknowledging that there is more to the picture. Believe it or not, that picture has some good in it. Recognize that good and all of the other good in your life that simultaneously exists. Acknowledge that you or someone else in the world has overcome this situation in the past. Moving forward and being happy is possible.
Distress Tolerance Skills at Blueprint Mental Health
Distress tolerance is one of five modules used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT has been proven effective in treating individuals struggling with mental and behavioral health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and more. Blueprint Mental Health is a boutique mental health provider, offering individual therapy and groups for teens and young adults experiencing mental health issues. We specialize in the use of DBT for teens, and are offering DBT training sessions for teens and for parents this summer.