Lots of times I find that the emotion enveloping a problem has my anxiety on high alert blocking logic. I may have been chewing on the event in my head for some time before I even think about the reasoning I would need to break out of high emotion mind. If I can’t figure out anything I can do about the issue right then, one DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) Coping Skill is to try to put it aside and do something else. Ultimately, whether I choose to solve the problem (if I can) or if I know I just can’t stop ruminating, both options eventually lead to letting the worry go.
I have a list of distractions that I sometimes use to find a way out of the cycle of anxiety. DBT uses acronyms liberally to help us to remember coping steps. This one is called Wise Mind ACCEPTS.
Activities: What can you get involved with that relieve some of your mental burden? I did a lot of jigsaw puzzles, crosswords puzzles and mind games at first. If you’d like to be active, start with walking and graduate from there. Try things that distract you from your distress.
Contributing: Increase our sense of Meaning
“No one has ever seen God with human eyes, but if we love one another God truly lives in us.” 1 John 4:12
This chapter in 1 John goes onto say that “Perfect love expels fear.” If you want to stop fearing and worrying and distressing, give someone God’s perfect love. Volunteer, help a neighbor, donate your time- donate YOU.
Helping others makes us feel good. It is known that performing good acts releases oxytocin, the chemical in our brain that makes us happy.
Helping others can give you a different perspective on your own life. Maybe you don’t have it so bad because this person you’re helping has it worse.
One Thanksgiving we decided to help out at the community Thanksgiving feast. There were thousands of people who came to get the free meal of turkey and all the trimmings. Along with the meal, they could get their hair cut, teeth looked at and even family portraits taken. It was wonderful. Afterwards we decided to go out to eat for our own Thanksgiving but the only place open was IHop so we had pancakes for Thanksgiving! But it didn’t matter, we were so high from helping others that we didn’t mind if we missed out on the traditional food.
When you’re depressed, you tend to isolate yourselves from others. And being Christian means loving one another. It’s easier to sit at home and not put yourself out there. If you’re depressed you’re most likely lethargic and self-focused. But even an hour of your time may be just the thing that someone else needs, and in the process, you can feel better yourself.
My doctors encouraged me to volunteer. I thought of Hospice since I felt I could relate to the families of those who were dying, having lost my own son, and a few years prior, lost my mother. I contacted a local Hospice, went through training and started visiting patients. I didn’t meet with their families, but spent time as a companion, listening and talking to patients. Mt doctor said later that it sounded like a great opportunity. “You can whisper in their ear, “Say hello to my son for me.” I hadn’t thought of that, but the thought really cheered me.
Early in DBT classes, we wrote out our values. There is an entire section in the DBT manual that helps you to choose which values are important to you. One of mine was to “Commit to help others.” I have to remind myself to do this, as I stated earlier, lethargy is my enemy and there are days that I do not want to go, but every time I do, I always feel better. Someone makes me laugh, someone shares a sweet story, and my mood is automatically lifted.
But if you can’t-just can’t-get out, give someone you love a call. Time is short and I wish I would have called my son more often!
“You must love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is EQAULLY important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Comparisons: Look at your situation in comparison to something worse. Compare how you’re feeling now to a time when you were in more pain.
Next blog I’ll talk about the rest of Wise Mind ACCEPTS (Comparisons, Emotions, Pushing the thoughts away, Thoughts and Sensations)
Here is an example of my personal list of ACCEPTS: (no judging