• Amy Ray

Skills For Handling Distress Tolerance pt.2

Distress Tolerance may not be a fun topic, but it is one that can be invaluable to everyone!  The second area we are going to cover in our series is ACCEPTS.  ACCEPTS stands for Activities, Contributing, Comparisons, Emotions, Push Away, Thoughts & Sensation.  These are all tips to help you distract from the emotion until you are calmer and can begin to address the problem.  You don't need to necessarily use all of them, but having a couple of ideas in your back pocket are so helpful!

Activities:  Find something to do to get your mind off of the negative emotion.  What are some of your hobbies?  You could go for a walk and listen to music or a podcast, bake cookies, read a book, or watch a favorite TV show or movie.

Contributing:  Do you volunteer?  Even if you don't just doing something nice for someone counts!  Bring over a treat and introduce yourself to a new neighbor, cook a dinner for a family in need or give an hour of your time to something you believe in. The act of contributing is not only beneficial for the recipient, but it makes you feel good.  Not only emotionally, but there is also a physiologic response that happens releasing those feel good hormones (dopamine and serotonin) in your brain.  

Comparisons:   We all do it, compare ourselves to someone else, so this one can be hard to do and its not meant to make you feel worse.  It involves thinking about a situation that you have been in previously that is worse than the current one.  If that is too difficult try thinking about someone/somewhere else that is struggling.  A community after a hurricane for example.  This thought process is there to help you put some of your feelings in perspective, by comparing other hardships to your current stressors.

Emotions: Try to focus on opposite emotions to the ones you are experiencing.  If you are anxious try a 5-10 minute meditation to slave that anxiety.  If you are sad, hit up YouTube for funny puppy videos, laughter can be the best medicine (also releasing those feel good hormones in your brain).  When you counteract with the opposite emotion, it helps to reduce the intensity of the negative emotion.

Push Away: When you aren't ready to deal with an emotion, it is ok to just push it out of you mind for a while.  Distract yourself with activities or mindfulness.  Then you can come back to it again when you are in a calmer frame of mind.

Thoughts: Do something brainy to combat those intrusive thoughts.  Say the alphabet backwards, or work on a word puzzle or Sudoku.  These make you focus on something completely different and also can push away those emotions until a time you are better able to handle them.

Sensation:  Utilize your senses to redirect your thoughts.  Have a dish of ice-cream, put a bath bomb in the tub and play some music while you soak, watch a movie.  Do something that intrigues one or a few of your senses as a way to distract yourself from the intrusive thoughts.  

Have you tried any of these tips before?  What has worked for you?  Opening a conversation is another great way to tease out the best ways you can utilize distress tolerance in your life.

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