What makes D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) so beneficial?
It teaches us CRAY.BAES the skills we need to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
We don’t have to feel abnormal, strange, or different anymore. It takes some practice, but D.B.T. can enhance our daily experiences by keeping our emotions regulated, communicating with others in a more effective way, and keeping things balanced with mindfulness. There’s even ways to calm yourself when in distress. I have been practicing D.B.T. for many years now, and the benefits make learning worth it. Here are a few of my favorite skills, and how you can apply them to your therapeutic routine.
RIDE.THE.WAVE. Riding the wave is like sailing through the waters of an uncomfortable emotion. If you’re sad, surf through it. Feeling anxious? It won’t last — just keep on swimming with the wet-and-wild tide. I like to picture paddle boarding on a rough surf.
A tough emotion can seem like it will sit with you forever, but riding the wave without attaching to the feeling can help it pass quicker, and without getting pulled down by the undertow.
DISTRACT. This tool is especially handy when you need to refocus your attention from a negative thought to a positive one. Say, you can’t stop reliving a traumatic flashback. It feels as though your brain can’t focus on anything but the horrible visualization. Now, listen to some loud music. Or put your heart and soul into that D.I.Y project you’ve procrastinated working on.
Sometimes, fully engrossing yourself in a favorite activity can reframe your thoughts away from that difficult time.
SELF.SOOTHE. Now, for my personal favorite: self soothe. We have five senses and can appeal to each of them in many ways. Aromatherapy takes advantage of your olfactory glands with pleasurable scents. A massage eases tension in the physical way. I like to take a comforting bath when I can’t fight off my anxiety — and incorporate candles for the visual sensation, bath bombs for comforting smells, and the a hot water soak for touch.
You can also pet your cat, or eat a piece of chocolate: soothing your senses helps you tolerate an emotional crisis by bringing you back to the basics.
There’s a crazy amount of DBT.SKILLS you can pull out of the toolkit and apply to your thoughts and emotions. I like to keep it real simple and reap the benefits of D.B.T. even when I’m just chilling out, not a care in the world. Practicing when you are feeling great makes it easier to utilize when you’re just a wreck. Get on board with D.B.T. and take back control of your mind.
For more about D.B.T. check out this article on the WHAT.WHY.HOW of the treatment method.
The great thing about treating borderline patients is that it is like having a supervisor always in the room. — Marsha M. Linehan, DBT.CREATOR