Therapy is an amazing tool in helping develop skills and coping strategies when having to deal with strong emotions. However, you may find yourself in a situation that can feel like an emotional crisis and help may not be immediately available. In this case, it may be worthwhile to learn skills and techniques that allow you to be able to manage in the moment. According to DBTSelfhelp.com, distress tolerance are skills and strategies that help you manage through difficult feelings, situations, and emotions that you can’t easily change. So, the focus should be changing how you feel in these situations and in the moment.
Self-Soothing is a helpful tool, activating your five senses and can immediately make you feel better. It is about being kind to yourself and being aware of your surroundings and being mindful. In a situation of distress, it might be hard to get your bearings, which is why having these items and strategies already thought out and readily available is a good strategy.
I personally have a self-soothe kit ready to go to make sure that I am ready if or when these situations occur.
Let’s talk about building this kit and keeping it handy. We will provide tips and ideas of what can go in the kit.
- Vision: Keep pictures of family, pets, anyone who is special to you, or specific scenery that soothes you or brings you comfort and joy. I personally keep pictures of hikes that I have taken in the past and it immediately takes me back to how I felt in the moment and how calming it was for me. These can be kept on your phone as well – it might be helpful to have a folder in your phone that is dedicated to this. That way, in moments of distress you aren’t having to scroll feverishly on your phone.
- Hearing: What sounds do you like to hear? Like the ladies on the podcast, Therapists In The Wild, I keep earphones in my kit. I also have a Spotify playlist dedicated to sounds that make me happy or think of less distressed situations. For those that aren’t particularly soothed by music, meditation apps or waves, water, etc. can also be used. For some it might even be listening to a voicemail of someone important to them. Anyone watch Never Have I Ever on Netflix?
- Smell: I am not really a scent person, but I do keep a spritz in my kit that smells like roses. It is faint and it definitely does the trick for me. However, for some this could be perfume, hand lotion, and even the smell of coffee. If you enjoy scented candles, that could also be an option.
- Touch: I have stress balls and fidget spinners in my kit. I need something to be able to hold in my hand. Sometimes having something soft to hold can be comforting as well.
- Taste: Personally, my go to is dark chocolate. It has a calming effect on me and I find that I take a moment to enjoy it, which results in me being distracted from the stressful situation. It is recommended to savour and eat slowly whatever it is you choose. Also having a hot cup of tea of your choice could be a good option as well. It forces you to slow down and sip it slowly.
While the above can be helpful in particularly stressful situations, it is still important to see a mental health professional if stressful situations continue and are more long-term in nature. The above provides you a quick way to feel better in the moment but you don’t have to navigate this journey on your own all of the time. We are here to help.