Dr. Marsha Linehan is a psychologist who works in Seattle, Washington. She created a coping skills program that was specifically designed for individuals with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. As time passed, many noticed that these were in fact, life skills and could be used by anyone who deals with major stress. These are critical surviving strategies but I will just focus on one area with this post and that is Improve The Moment
When you try to practice distress tolerance, Imagine in your mind how good you will feel if you achieve your goals, by slowing down and using coping skills to create change.
Picture very relaxing scenes. Imagine a secret room within yourself, closing the door on anything that can hurt you. Go into a fantasy world, created just for you where you imagine everything going well. Calming and beautiful are your surroundings. Those hurtful emotions, envision those draining out of you like water out of a pipe.
Find some purpose or meaning in the pain. Remember and listen to spiritual values. Focus on positive aspects and repeat them over and over. Like the saying goes” Make lemonade out of lemons”
Open your heart to a supreme being, greater wisdom, God, even your own wise mind. Ask for strength to guide you through this moment. Turn things over to God or to your own belief in your higher being.
You can try muscle relaxing. I learned this myself in a therapy session. At first, I thought it was odd until it worked. Tense and relax each large muscle group, starting with you hands and arms, going to the top of your head, then working your way down. Drink some tea. Listening to music can also help with this skill. Taking a hot bath filled with your favorite fragrance can stimulate the senses ease aches/pains which we know are almost always stress related. Breathe deeply.
Stay In The Moment
Focus your entire attention on just what you are doing right now. Put your mind in the present. I have heard this so often and it is a fact. Be aware of how your body moves during each simple task cleaning, walking etc. These awareness exercises will help bring the attention back to the very moment you are in.
Give Yourself A Brief Vacation
Rent a hotel room at the beach or in the woods for a day or two; bring scented candles and/or incense. I happen to love both but I like the lasting effect of quality incense. White sage is a good start followed by Floral Valley. Of course when u sage smudge, it should be done in a room with all windows open and preferably alone. I will get more into my experience with stones, incense, candles and other methods of bringing more peace into existence. Take a blanket to the park and sit for the whole afternoon. Unplug your phone for a day, as impossible as that may sound, it can be done.
Be your own Cheerleader! Repeat constantly” I’m doing the best I can do” ” I will make it through this” Find anything positive about yourself to focus on.
Things such as a “gratitude” journal, free-writing, or just making lists of pros and cons can assist in your progress. Remember the results by not handling distress in a way that best serves you like turning to alcohol or drugs, hurting yourself, or engaging in any activity that is impulsive. So try to take the time to focus on the positive consequences, by not escaping the moment, but working through and coping with distress, allowing you to accept and then act on any moments of uncertainty.
One last affirmation: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND LOVED!
*Adapted from Skills Training Manual by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan