Everyday Skills to Aid Emotion Regulation Skills
There are several core skills we learn in DBT but there are also some basic, everyday things that we should all be doing.
Looking after our health
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘healthy body, healthy mind’, and to an extent it is true. Poor health can affect the way we feel, and can cloud our judgement. For example, we have all snapped at someone unfairly because we had a headache or a cold. It’s important to look after our physical wellbeing, so we can focus on our mental wellbeing. Consider looking after your physical health as an important part of looking after your mental health.
Healthy eating is of course part of looking after yourself physically, but is an important thing to do in its own right. Think of it in terms of filling your car with petrol. If you were to fill your car with sugary full-fat chocolate milkshake every day, it wouldn’t run as well! The same is true of the body
In recent years, we have all used the word ‘hangry’ as we get irritable when we haven’t eaten. When we are ‘hangry’ we don’t choose how we are around other people, we allow those emotions to react without thought.
As part of your DBT journal, you could also keep a food diary so you can see if there is a link between what you are eating and how you are feeling
A good sleep
A good or bad nights sleep affects us all. When we have a good nights sleep, we awake refreshed and ready to face the day. After a bad nights sleep, we feel tired and sluggish, and may be struggling to function normally.
Many people with BPD struggle with their sleep – some worry at night, some suffer from insomia, some may have nightmares or night terrors. Do your best to create a good sleep routine. Some tips for a good nights sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day
- Don’t watch TV, read books or use your phone in the 30 minutes before bed
- Have a soothing bath
- Use lavender oil, widely regarded as a soothing, calming scent
- Listen to quiet, relaxing music, whale song or nature sounds
The last thing we want to do, as humans, is exercise when we feel terrible mentally. But it is actually the best thing we could do. Many studies have been done on the positive link between exercise and mental health.
It doesn’t need to be a fitness class or gym session, even something as simple as a 20 minute walk around the block can help. Make it part of your routine, to do something simple that you like for a set time, at the same time each day. Think about what is your barrier to exercising, and think of ways you can break that barrier down.