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Managing the Distress Tolerance in your life

Anger is an all-consuming emotion at times, even more so now as we deal with new situations. If you don't get a grip on it, it can affect your quality of life. Anger will damage your relationships and raise your stress levels. If anger is beginning to impact your life, start taking steps to control your emotional state.

We all have extreme emotional times in our lives. That's part of life, it never seems to run smoothly all the time. For some, stress triggers overwhelming or uncontrollable feelings in response. This becomes the "normal" reaction versus an extreme response.

Distress Tolerance is the ability to manage stress-related internal emotions. For many, this becomes a struggle they live with on a daily basis.

When you have a low Distress Tolerance even a mildly stressful situation becomes a formidable obstacle. The negative mental and actual behaviors may be out of proportion. Your anxiety level can feel like it's off the charts.

What can you do to help yourself when there is a high level of distress in your life?

Accept what is happening - don't try to do more than that to start. This is "Radical Acceptance" - You don't need to put any emotion with the situation. Recognize that things happened and you are now here, right now.
Acknowledgment and acceptance are what you want to feel.

Distract yourself with a different kind of reaction. Instead of harming yourself, try doing something that will create a different sensation. For example, snap your wrist with a rubber band or draw lines on your body instead of cutting.. Hit a punching bag, or a pillow to release some anger.

Distract yourself. Think of something you enjoy and occupy your mind with that. Use it as a distraction from the anger you may feel. Some ideas would be to doodle or paint, take a walk to a park and people-watch without interacting, just observe. You can watch a funny movie, or cook your favorite recipe.

Do some self-soothing to relax. When you have relaxed you function better, and can think clearer. Think of things that bring you pleasure like going somewhere that makes you calm. Listen to music you enjoy or sounds of nature if that calms you. Play with a pet and enjoy their unconditional love and joy!

Now, what do you do?

Once you have accepted the situation, assess if you feel you can tolerate the distress. Now it's time to attempt to solve the problem.

  • Identify the problem, and write down all solutions you can think of. Select the best alternatives and then look at the pros/cons of each one.
  • Decide on a plan (or two or more) and see how to implement it.
  • Implement the plan - take the action.
  • Evaluate the outcome, and see if you need to change your plan.
  • If that doesn't work, try one of the alternatives.

Schedule online. It's easy, fast and secure.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment onlinecontact us or call our office at 480-235-1682. We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation.

If you need help understanding and managing Distress Tolerance an effective form of treatment is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT will allow you to learn techniques for distraction, relaxation, and coping skills. You'll learn to calmly recognize negative situations and their impact.

This will allow you to make wise decisions on your actions. You'll be able to avoid falling into intense, desperate or destructive emotional reactions.

The counselors at Pathways Counseling Services are trained in DBT treatment. This can be during one-on-one therapy or in one of our 6-week group sessions.

DBT Psychoeducational Group - Distress Tolerance Skills

In the DBT Psychoeducational Group you will learn to manage Distress Tolerance in healthier, more positive ways.

Our next group starts on July 28, 2021, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for six weeks. Please contact our office at 480-235-1682 to enroll in the group.

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