Category Archives: Adult Mental Health

How to Instill Emotional Regulation and Distress Tolerance Skills Into Your Daily Life

Posted October 1, 2019

Whether you’re facing a major life crisis or struggling with day-to-day stressors and challenges, good self-regulation skills can make dealing with difficult times easier. Learning to balance your emotions is one way to feel more control over the things happening in your life.

Try these 5 tips for improved emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills.

1. Mind Your Body’s Signals

Every person’s body reacts differently to stress, but there are some common physical signs to watch for and manage.

• During times of high stress, people may describe feeling feverish or sweaty. Pay attention to your body temperature and take steps to counter it by splashing your face with cool water. If you’re driving, crank up the air conditioner and aim it toward your face. Lowering your temperature makes you more comfortable and better able to focus on emotional control.

• In periods of high emotion, try exercising to match that level of intensity, if your physical condition allows. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to accomplish this goal. Do a few sprints in your driveway or swim a few laps. High-intensity exercise releases energy and increases oxygen, both of which bring down your stress levels.

• Just like your yoga instructor said, focus on your breathing to help regulate what’s happening throughout your body. Find a favorite breathing exercise and use it anytime the emotions become overwhelming. For a simple way to get started, try breathing in and out in four-second intervals. This pattern interrupts your body’s fight or flight response.

• Try paired muscle relaxation to release tension. The technique is simple; tighten a voluntary muscle for at least five seconds and then relax it. This process leaves the muscles more relaxed than when you started. Breathing and heart rate slow as you perform these exercises.

• Use all your senses to reduce your feelings of distress. Listening to relaxing music, watching something funny on television, or eating a favorite snack stimulates your brain and takes your focus away from your emotions. These distress tolerance skills don’t require much in the way of advance preparation, so they don’t add to the stress you’re already feeling.

 

2. Find Something Healthy That You Love to Do

A hobby that you love helps you redirect your energy away from your feelings. Reading a great story lets you forget about reality for a while and immerse yourself in the plot. Cooking occupies your mind with the steps that you’re following.

Even small chores like doing laundry or washing dishes can help you take your mind off your emotions. If you finish what you’re working on, move onto another task.

3. Focus On Others

When it feels like your world is falling apart, focusing on someone else is one of the most powerful emotion regulation skills. Acts of service for someone else who can’t possibly repay you help you maintain perspective.

Also, serving others raises your self-esteem and distracts you from your circumstances.

4. Maintain Perspective

It’s easy to feel as if the situation you’re in is hopeless. A reality check can help you maintain perspective. As yourself, “What is the worst possible outcome of this situation?” Then think about how you can avoid that.

Rarely do things go as badly as we fear, so if you plan for the worst while hoping for the best, you can take back control of your emotions and keep things in perspective.

5. Find Balance

Difficult times in life can leave you feeling off-balance and out of control. Finding ways to take back your power over your feelings can help you find your way through the hard times. If you need help with learning how to use mindfulness and emotional regulation tools, contact MHS.

The friendly and professional team at MHS specializes in DBT emotion regulation, chemical health services, and behavioral health interventions to help you find balance.

 

Image Credit: Getty Images / torwai

Help A Loved One; Look Out For These Signs of Suicidal Behavior

Posted April 12, 2019

Suicide is a traumatic experience for an entire community. As there is a diverse range of signs, symptoms, and causes, understanding the many signs can help you reach out to a loved one. If you are concerned that someone you know may be having suicidal thoughts, learn to spot common warning signs and how adult DBT can help them deal with their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Changes in Mood

While no single sign can completely predict attempted suicide, many individuals who are considering show mood changes:

  • Anxiety
  • Shame/humiliation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger/agitation
  • Sudden calmness

Continue reading

Why is My Child Acting Out?

Posted April 10, 2019

Challenging behavior is a frequently experienced part of raising a child, and it’s not unusual for a child to act out as a response to everyday stressors, changes in their routine, and other typical factors. However, if you’re concerned that your child is struggling to overcome significant behavioral issues and/or emotional difficulties, it may be time to seek out professional help and resources.

What is Causing this Behavior?

It’s not unusual for parents to be confused by a child’s challenging behavior, especially when it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind it. It can be difficult not to feel like you are at fault, or to experience feelings of guilt for wondering if you simply have a “bad” child. However, a child’s negative behavior can often be attributed to one key factor: on some level, their basic needs are not being met. For some children, that may be something as simple as an inconsistent sleep schedule, the stress of dealing with a new school, or complex feelings about the birth of a new sibling. Continue reading

IT Security in Our Homes (Click Link)

Posted June 15, 2018

Randall Webb: So we’ll go ahead and get started. My name is Randall Webb. I work for TARCSYS Corporation. We are a Southern-based IT company. I come from the great metropolis of Nashville, Tennessee. We focus on IT security. What the point of this is, is I really want to change your paradigm and change your mindset about what IT security is. Okay? All of us either are parents or we work with IT in our lives, and we know people that we may want to implement some of these things for, and so that’s what the goal is. The title of this is Household Incorporated, and we will explain what that is and why. It’s a roadmap for IT security in our homes. Continue reading

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective. Continue reading

Relaxation Script for Pain

Posted December 13, 2017

Studies indicate that up to 50% of individuals diagnosed with chronic pain will also meet the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for anxiety. This is because many individuals who experience chronic pain describe anxiety and pain distress as a circular fashion: pain contributing to stress, which leads to muscle tension, which leads to more pain. It is important to practice relaxation strategies to cope with anxiety which will release tension in the body. You will find one example of a relaxation script below. In addition, use your mindfulness skills to pay attention to your body’s needs and shift the relaxation script as needed.

Breathing and Body Relaxation Script:

  • Begin by resting your body in a comfortable position. You may close your eyes, or if you are more comfortable keeping them open, stare at a fixed focal point in the room. Start grounding your awareness into your body. Feel your feet firmly meeting the floor, your back supporting you in your chair.
  • Once you have physically grounded yourself, slowly bring your attention to your breath. Notice the patterns of your breathing- the inhalation, pause, and exhalation.
  • Observe the rise and fall of your belly as you are breathing. If you notice that you are breathing from the chest, work to slow your breathing down, with slower and deeper breaths from your diaphragm. Allow for a few more rotations of this breath, going deeper and deeper into your core.
  • The goal of this breathing exercise is target a slower breath, a soothing breath. Perhaps counting allows you to pace your breathing. Try this experience, perhaps starting with intervals of 4 seconds.
    • Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4. Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4.
  • Repeat for a few more rotations.
  • It is natural for distractions to pop up in your mind. If you observe a distraction, identify it as just a thought and redirect your attention to your breathing.
    • Inhale, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue this breathing until you have found a natural rhythm of inhalations and exhalations that work for your body today.
  • Continuing to move with this rhythm, consider the idea of releasing tension with your exhalation as we expand into meditation with the breath. Feel yourself working to inhale calming energy, and exhaling muscle tension.
    • Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4. Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4. Imagine your body slowly releasing all of the built up tension.
  • As you work through your muscle groups, observe the experience of feeling lighter in your muscles are you work to cleanse your body of the tension.
    • Inhale calm, 2, 3, 4. Pause, 2, 3, 4. Exhale tension, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue this process for as long as you find meaningful for you. When you are ready, you may begin the process of orienting yourself back to your surroundings. Feel your back against the chair, your legs against the chair, your feet resting on the ground. When you are ready, you may start to shift your body and prepare to move on to the next part of your day. Remember that you can return to this place, to ground yourself and release tension in your body, at any time you choose.

Learning from Setbacks

Posted November 28, 2017

All clients recovering from addiction face setbacks.  While demoralizing, these lapses provide important lessons that inform sustained recovery in the future.  To help clients apply these lessons, use this FREE Handout and Worksheet from Dr. Lane Pederson’s book DBT in Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment Settings.

Asking for Help With Pain

Posted November 21, 2017

It can be challenging for individuals with chronic conditions to find the balance when asking for help. Many people have experienced barriers with everyday household activities and responsibilities as well as occasions of cancelling plans due to pain. It is common for individuals to feel like they will upset their support system by asking for help.  This leads many people to keep their needs to themselves. It can be easy to think that other people will automatically know what you need, and frustrations can result when they don’t get it.

Even though it may feel this way, keep in mind that we don’t know what other people are thinking.  Other people cannot read your mind to know what you need. It is appropriate to ask for help, and doing so builds self-respect. Use this idea as motivation to prepare and reach out

  • Start by identifying your different support needs. This includes emotional and physical needs.
  • The clearer and more specific you are, the better.
  • Communicate with your supports ahead of time. Ask them what kind of help they are willing to offer. For some, it may be help with chores like carrying laundry. For others, it may be help with getting to appointments or providing emotional support during challenging times.
  • Make sure to reinforce others for jumping in.

It may feel challenging in the moment to follow up and ask for help. Remember that your supports have shared with you what they feel comfortable with, and to trust their word and intention with what they offered. Use mindfulness to work on balancing the acceptance of help from others with the things you can do independently to enhance your quality of life.

Emotions, Thoughts, and Situations That Trigger Addictive Behavior

Posted November 9, 2017

It can be challenging to identify and manage what triggers addictive behaviors. Understanding what sets off these behaviors and knowing which strategies and solutions for change are effective are essential in one’s recovery.

Enjoy this free handout on Emotions, Thoughts, and Situations That Trigger Addictive Behavior taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s book The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual.