No matter what you are dealing with, we can all benefit from tools to help us through difficult moments. We often have to first slow ourselves down to identify what is really going on. Whether we are having a bad day, feeling stress about work, struggling with anger, or feeling nothing at all, we don’t have to just live with it. There are tools available to help us uncover what’s going on beneath the surface and to take action. If everything feels difficult right now, you are not alone.
Trackers help reveal patterns in moods and behaviors that allow you to notice triggers, develop healthy habits, and improve your general wellbeing. It can also help you collect valuable information to share with loved ones or professionals who are supporting you.
Visualize yourself sitting beside a gently flowing stream with leaves floating along the surface of the water.
For the next few minutes, take each thought that enters your mind — any thought, positive or negative — and place it on a leaf.
Let it float by.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Narrow your attention on different parts of your body. How are they feeling?
As you go, consciously tense up each part and then relax it.
Start at your head, then move down through each part and end at your feet.
How is your body feeling?
Practice Opposite Action
If you find that your emotions are not helping you achieve your goals, try the opposite action skill. The idea is to change how you feel by acting OPPOSITE of how you are feeling. This is a good skill to use when the emotions don’t fit the facts. For example, if you feel scared because you are actually in an unsafe situation, opposite action would not be the appropriate skill to use!
(i.e. unable to get out of bed)
>> Get up and do something, no matter how small. Focus on how you will feel when you’re done.
(i.e. wanting to isolate yourself)
>> Reach out to a friend or loved one, even if it feels difficult. OR give support or express interest in someone else.
Feeling Fear of Failure?
(i.e. feeling incompetent)
>> Work on the project you are afraid of failing at, and take that risk. Make a list of the reasons you are competent.
(i.e. feeling guilty when you didn’t do anything wrong)
>> Examine what you did and ask yourself if it was truly hurtful to someone or if it was out of line with your values. If you do not have regret about something you did, you do not need to apologize.
If your feelings don’t fit the facts, go forward with confidence. Change your body posture, walk tall and maintain eye contact, with a steady and clear voice.
A Trick from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
ACCEPTS is an acronym to help you tolerate distressing emotions until you are more easily able to address them. The tool should be used when you are feeling such intense emotions that you cannot just sit in them — when you need to distract.
Activities – Engage in something you enjoy to keep yourself busy.
Contributing – Do something kind for another person.
Comparisons – Remind yourself of a time when you overcame a challenge before.
Emotions – Practice the Opposite Actions skill to reduce the negative emotion you’re feeling.
Pushing away – Set the problem aside for a bit and schedule a time to come back to it.
Thoughts – Do something that takes all of your mind’s energy, like a puzzle or saying the alphabet backward.
Sensations – Use your five senses to offer a strong physical sensory experience. Hold ice or take a cold shower. Listen to loud or dissonant music.