Feeling overwhelmed? Struggling to get through the day? This is an ongoing list of tips and tricks that help me de-stress and self soothe. When it comes to my mental health, I’m constantly on the look out for anything that helps. It is my goal to continue updating this page as I think of other things to include and find other methods that help. Use these ideas to personalize and create your own list. Feel free to share in the comment section your favorite methods of distress tolerance and self-soothing as well as anything that helps you maintain your mental health. Best wishes to you all!
* * * Namaste. * * *
Distract yourself from self-harm urges:
(most of these suggestions come directly from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, source information at the bottom of this post)
- “Hold an ice-cube in one hand and squeeze it.”*
- “Write on yourself with a red felt-tip marker”* where you would normally cut or burn. Or draw a healing tattoo — that is an image, symbol, or word that gives you hope.
- “Snap a rubber band on your wrist each time you feel like hurting yourself.”*
- “Draw faces of people you hate on balloons and then pop them.”* Or write disturbing thoughts and negative self-talk statements on the balloons and pop them.
- “Write letters to people you hate or to people who have hurt you. Tell them what they did to you and tell them why you hate them. Then throw the letters away or save them to read later.”* Or rip them to shreds or burn them.
- “Throw foam balls, rolled-up socks, or pillows against the wall as hard as you can.”*
Distract yourself with any of the following pleasurable/soothing activities:
- Drink a cup of hot tea while listening to classical music.
- Play the piano. Play the guitar. Play the mandolin. (Insert any instrument you play.)
- Sing! Sing at the top of your lungs!
- Draw while listening to music.
- Create an emotion-based playlist of music or YouTube videos for whatever mood or emotion you are feeling at that moment. I like to keep a “Lift Your Spirit” playlist for the times when my mood could use a boost of energy.
- Dance or exercise to music.
- Do yard-work or plant a garden.
- Paint your emotions. Abstract.
- Work on a craft — crochet, beadwork, jewelry, scrapbooking, etc.
- Give yourself a manicure or pedicure or both.
- Pet or play with my cats — no less than 50 strokes.
- Look through photo albums of my son.
- Do a mundane chore: wash dishes, clean litter boxes, sweep, vacuum, etc.
- Take a bubble bath or cool shower.
- Read through my inspiration journal. (In the future, it is my hope to include several of these pages from my art journals here on my blog.)
- Visit Soul Pancake online or glance through the book.
- Go for a walk or hike. Be in nature.
- Photograph something.
- Meditate, concentrate on breathing.
- CREATE! Make something, anything.
- List the things I’m grateful/thankful for.
- Exercise. Cardio, yoga, or go for a jog or swim.
- Spend time creating a list of activities going on in your community (usually your local Chamber of Commerce and newspapers will have a community calendar) and pick something new to do. Get out of your house and meet new people.
- Go for a spontaneous drive. Get lost with the purpose of finding your way back (don’t cheat with GPS unless you get desperate, lol).
- Keyword search one of the following: Funny, Humor, Positivity or Positive, Peace, Happiness, Art, Photography
- Encourage others.
- Practice “Random Acts of Kindness.” Help someone else!
- Focus on the positive. Count your blessings (again, thankfulness/gratitude).
- Play a video game.
- Zentangle! Perfectly self-soothing.
- Work a jigsaw puzzle.
- Blog or write in a private journal/sketch journal.
- Take photos of my cats or my boyfriend or nature. A fun photography game I like to play is set a number of steps to walk, e.g. take 20 or 30 steps, and take a photo of something, anything from that spot.
- Lie down in the grass and watch the clouds or the stars.
- Watch anything Monty Python. There’s nothing like clever silliness to make you smile. If not Monty Python, then find something that will make you laugh.
- Watch one of Ajahn Brahm‘s videos.
- Connect with your spirituality. For me that is being in nature, but for others that may be prayer or being involved with your church or religious organization or simply volunteering your time to help a non-profit.
- http://charidy.com/blog/ – So many wonderful, positive stories here!
- Create a bucketlist.
- Write down your happiest memories. Re-read them when you’re feeling down.
- “Write a loving letter to yourself when you’re feeling good and keep it with you to read when you’re feeling upset.”*
- “Make a list of ten things you’re good at or that you like about yourself when you’re feeling good, and keep it with you to read when you’re feeling upset.”*
- “Make a list of the people you admire and want to be like — it can be anyone real or fictional throughout history. Describe what you admire about these people.”*
- “Write a letter to someone who has made your life better and tell them why. (You don’t have to send the letter if you don’t want to.)”*
- DBT Distress Tolerance Skills: Your 6-Skill Guide to Navigate Emotional Crises
And if none of these work or you find yourself in crisis, please, call someone! You are important. It may not feel like it at this moment, but you are.
[*Source: McKay, PH.D., Matthew, Jeffrey C. Wood, PSY.D., and Jeffrey Brantley, MD. “Basic Distress Tolerance Skills.” The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, 2007. 13. Print.]