Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has roots in therapy, but it can help humans here, there, and everywhere to lead happier, healthier lives and give us something we all need right now: peace of mind. Maybe you learned DBT skills growing up. Maybe they’re new to you. Either way, with a little willingness and practice, these four DBT modules can be invaluable, especially during this time of uncertainty.*
What are the Four DBT Modules?
1) Core Mindfulness
Be centered in this very moment.
When practicing core mindfulness, you focus on what you are seeing, hearing, thinking, feeling; distinguish between thoughts and facts; and separate reason from emotion. Core mindfulness encourages awareness and acceptance in the here and now. The goal of mindfulness is to stay calm and get centered.
You will experience many emotions in the coming weeks from fear and anxiety to hope and reassurance. Notice each emotion as they come and observe without judgment.
Try these skills to help you stay mindful: Yoga at home, meditation, taking a walk. Be sure to practice social distancing if you go outside.
When practicing distress tolerance, you navigate the people, places and things in your life that cause distress without running, hiding or making things worse. Distress tolerance encourages acceptance of your situation – no matter how uncomfortable. The goal is to become less vulnerable to intense, prolonged, negative feelings.
During this time, completely accept the situation as it is while allowing yourself to feel how you need to feel. Once your emotional intensity is down, it is easier to think more clearly and wisely on how to act.
Try these skills to help cope with the situation: Bake cookies, read a book or join a virtual book club, watch your favorite TV show, call a friend.
When practicing emotion regulation, you acknowledge that you don’t need to avoid or suppress negative emotions – or allow them to control your life. Emotion regulation encourages de-escalating intense emotions so that you can respond rather than react to situations. The goal is to avoid going to extremes, setting a cycle of intense emotion and unproductive behavior in motion.
Right now, it is important to Check. The. Facts. Be sure to always use a reputable source while gathering information.
Learn to ride the wave. This means, sitting with your emotions instead of resisting them. They will pass like waves rising and falling.
Lastly, cope ahead. You may have to work through incredibly difficult situations like having enough food, medicine, and supplies in case you have to stay home for two weeks. Brainstorm solutions, like leaning on friends or local resources, ahead of time so you feel more prepared.
Try these skills to help with emotion regulation: Call your friends or family, journal, call a mental health professional, or exercise.
Play nice with others.
When practicing interpersonal effectiveness, communication is thoughtful and deliberate. Interpersonal effectiveness encourages you to convey your needs clearly while remaining open to negotiation and free from manipulation. The goal is honest, respectful communication, which builds healthy personal and professional relationships.
During this time, practice kindness and understanding. We are all experiencing distress, and we are all in this together. The best and most helpful thing any of us can do right now, is stay inside to help flatten the curve.
Try these skills to help build and keep strong relationships: Contribute in whatever way you can. If you are healthy, help a neighbor in need. Support small businesses. More importantly, stay home, and practice social distancing if you must be out.
Take What You Can Use & Leave the Rest.
Depending on the circumstance, some DBT skills are more applicable than others. Feel free to take what you can use and leave the rest. And like everything else in life, practice makes perfect.
EMBRACE Pittsburgh is a powerful movement conceived and driven by Citrone 33. The goal is to champion mental strength throughout the Pittsburgh region. EMBRACE provides in-person and online educational and experiential opportunities for Pittsburghers to learn and practice self-care while engaging with their communities. EMBRACE Pittsburgh’s program resources include many skills and drills focused on learning to reduce daily stress, and to be mindful, empathetic, and accepting of yourself and others. Follow us on social for the most current DBT tips.