Distress tolerance

Sometimes we become too overwhelmed with stress, albeit from work, school, friends, family, or just life in general. The stress and anxiety weighs us down and we feel like we can’t get anything done because there are so many other things on our plate. At times like this, we need to take a step back and take time for ourselves for a moment. We need to reconnect with ourselves and spend some time on breaking the death grip stress has on us.

"But I don’t have anytime to do some wellness BS right now! I have a million things to do and I’m freaking out!"

I know it may feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day at times like this. But even if you only have a few seconds, closing your eyes and counting to ten, for example, may help clear up the clutter in your mind. Even though it sounds stupid and simple, when you find the one that works for you, it can feel like pushing a reset button. After looking at your schedule, try to allot some time for distress tolerance.  If you afford the time, these tips will help regain your focus. There are suggestions for a wide variety of time allotments. 

  • Activities: physical activity is a great way to exert extra stress and reconnect with your body. Not only are you keeping your body healthy, you are keeping your mind healthy as well. Endorphins are released producing a rush that makes you feel good. Do yoga or meditate. Try cleaning your room or workspace. “Change your mood by changing your environment.” Go out for a walk, play some basketball, dance, play a game on you computer (OMGPOP!), watch funny youtube videos (Luan Legacy!), go shopping, dress up like Star Wars characters and have a light saber fight, prank call your friends and just say “seven days…….”, just do something!
  • Contributing: do a surprising, thoughtful thing to someone, make or give something to someone, tell someone you were thinking of them, do volunteer work like at an animal shelter so you can play with all the fuzzies
  •  Comparisons: I know we’ve all experienced that humbling moment where something puts into perspective how comparatively good our life is. You are lucky to own a computer to read this, You are lucky to be sitting in your comfy clothes in your warm house with delicious food you can eat. Just think, despite all of these problems we have piling up, we are very lucky to have means of living, loving people and good health in our lives. Yay! Think of this in a positive light and be thankful, don’t get depressed by thinking of the less fortunate.
  • Emotions: try to create the opposite emotion to what you are feeling. Watch a funny movie (The Hangover!), good TV shows (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Friends), read a book (Harry Potter forever), listen to good music
  • Pushing away: tune out for a couple of minutes. Create a mental wall between you and your stressors. Don’t ruminate on them. Remember that these stressors may seem like they are controlling your life, but in reality YOU are the one in complete control!
  • Thoughts: count to ten when you need to quickly reconnect with yourself. This is a tried and true tactic. Try closing your eyes, take a deep breath and count along with each slow deep inhale, followed by a slow deep exhale, continue until you reach ten. Repeat as many times as you need. You could also use your environment, try counting how many red things are around you, or how many round things there are. Try to do puzzles or play sudoku (download apps on your phone!)
  • Sensations: have sex!, run cold water over your face or arms, take a hot shower, have a hot cup of tea or soup