7 Instant Strategies for Reducing Acute Distress (e.g. use if you feel like self harming)
- Fill a big bowl with iced water (i.e. water and ice) so that it is really cold. Dip your face into it (for less than a minute)
- Dig your finger nails into your arm without breaking the skin.
Alternatively, if you feel like etching hateful thoughts into your skin, try writing them on your skin in red marker. Leaving the house with your ‘art work’ visible is not recommended!
- Blow up a bunch of balloons. Write your negative thoughts on them using a marker pen, one thought per balloon. Pop them.
- Put a hair tie or rubber band on your wrist or ankle. Ping it.
- Cry to reduce tension. (Crying releases stress hormones)
- Stroke your own face or arms in a gentle, loving way. (This releases Oxytocin and will help you feel physiologically calmer i.e. it will have an actual chemical effect on how you feel).
- Tell yourself a reassuring phrase like “It will pass”
or “Whatever strong feelings I am feeling at the moment, they will pass.”
Some of the above examples are from The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance.It’s a great resource for therapists or clients. Contains lots of practical strategies, like the ones above. Is available as an ebook for $9.99, so if you need it right now, you can download it instantly and view it on your PC or Mac.
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