Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Distraction. ACCEPTS, Distress Tolerance

Everyone loves progression right? Well I know I do in any case. Today in group we finally moved onto the next module: DISTRESS TOERANCE. Again, this is a nice inoffensive, non triggering topic. This time round anyway. Last time I found it hard to accept that these skills won’t solve all my problems straight away, as in right now! But rather they are designed to help you to bear pain skilfully without making the situation any worse. (Marsha Linehan 1993)

This set of skills is for when in the throes of an emotional crisis. When the problem can’t be solved, or if it can, maybe it is simply not the right time to solve it in that moment. It may not be the right environment to try to solve the problem either; for example, I am not skilled enough yet to stay emotionally regulated around my family during disagreements, so for now, using the DISTRESS TOLERANCE skills is the best solution for me. When I am in a food crisis, where I am trying really hard not to binge or purge, then being at home or around food is most defiantly the worst environment to be in, so some skills might not be as effective. And parallel to that, sometimes I can’t get away from situations involving food; this is when I find DISTRESS TOLERANCE skills really help. I like to think that my cue to use the distress tolerance is when I reach my complex skill breakdown point. It is also a way for me to find wise mind and calm the moment so I can try a solution focused skill like OPPOSITE ACTION, because it’s really important to not spend all my time self soothing or distracting! I would never get anything done!

What I picked up from today’s group is that PREPERATION is the key for these skills to REALLY work, and to allow myself to gain maximum benefit from them. We are always being told to practise the skills in less emotionally intensive situations so as we are familiar with them when we really need them when deregulated. So that is the aim of this post. To put together a list of distraction ideas based on the skill WISE MIND ACCEPTS.

DISTRACTION for CRISES SURVIAL is not the same as ‘zoning off’ when a problem CAN be solved, like staying in bed watching Disney films and avoiding the real world for days on end. That will just make it worse! WISE MIND ACCEPTS is for when you have to tolerate the situation in a way that is not harmful to yourself or others.

A – Activities
C – Contributing
C – Comparisons
E – Emotions
P – Push Away
S – Sensations

These are some of my own ideas; things which I know will help me during a crisis. Again, it is a work in progress and as always I would love to hear all your suggestions.

Activities Throw self into the moment.
·         Reading books – Silly novels, short stories about unimportant topics, Sci-Fi, Harry Potter. NO non-fiction. Magazines, trashy or glossy! Read recovery Blogs, Karyn Hall, Audio Books
·         Exercise - Get active, something intensive which demands focus and attention. Zumba class, Yoga.
·         Hobbies – Music, learn a new song on the guitar. Art and crafts. Writing, blogging. 
·         Mental activities – Word games, scrabble on phone, Memorize a poem or prayer. Write a poem or short story.
·         Cleaning – Bedroom, Kitchen, Bathroom, Make-up, Wardrobe, Cooking, Washing
·         Events – Go see a movie, a play, a show, a lecture. The Silent Room, Meditation class. Google, Hospital lectures.
·         Friends – Meet up, text, call, chat, email….. But DO NOT talk about crisis.

Contributing - Focus on something/someone other than yourself.
·         Volunteer time, Hospital, Church,
·         Do something nice for another person. Bake, cook, send letter/card
·         Surprise someone, pay for coffee, buy something
·         Send nice text, Email, facebook
·          Smile at shop assistant, people on the street.
·         Give money to charity, buy food for homeless person
·         Visit Nana, Granny, Someone who is sick
·         Say prayers for the well – being of others

Comparison – Remember, it could always be worse
·         Compare myself to myself this time last year, a few months ago, even a few weeks ago!
·         Compare myself to others in my situations who are coping worse than me.
·         Compare myself to the rest of my family who have the same condition who are not accepting and coping with the disorder.
·         Be thankful for what I have

Emotions – Create opposite emotions to the one you are experiencing.
·         Music – create ‘happy’ playlist, ‘upbeat’ playlist, ‘relaxing’ playlist
·         Movies – Disney, Comedies, Period Dramas, Scary films
·         Comedy show
·         Read romantic books, thrillers
·         Read inspirational stories or poems

Push Away – Allow yourself a break from the emotion/thought
·         Mentally leave the situation, go to another ‘room’ in your mind
·         Give it to God box
·         Do a guided visualisation on Youtube

Thoughts – Focus mind on thoughts, Take a mental ‘Time-Out’
·         Count to ten
·         Count your breath
·         Visualise STOP! Sign
·         Look around, observe the things around you, and name them.
·         Say the same thing over and over in your mind. Breathe in WISE breathe out MIND. Over and over

Sensations – Interrupt physiological action urges with something intense which will not harm
·         Have a very hot or cold shower. Alternate between the two
·         Hold ice, eat frozen fruit
·         Go swimming, use the steam room
·         Suck on a lemon/lime
·         Snap a rubber band on your wrist

I cannot stress the importance of being prepared ahead of a crisis, and also it’s so important to find what works for you. It took me a really long time to figure out that these things work for me.

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