What Happens When it Feels Like the House is on Fire!
The most important thing to do in these situations is to first recognize what is happening before we react. What sensations do we feel in our body (tension, heat, flushed, heart racing, etc.) what stories are we telling ourselves (I am not enough, I am being disrespected, no one listens to me, etc.) and what emotions are we beginning to feel (disrespected, fearful, hurt, angry, etc.)
Once we have noticed that we are beginning to feel as if we are in a life-threatening situation, we have several coping skills that can decrease our reaction to the situation. These skills help us lower our bodily reactions which allow us to once again engage our prefrontal cortex to plan, analyze and problem solve. Distraction and Self Soothing Actions are two of these effective coping skills
Distraction: Sometimes the easiest and most effective way to change our response to a situation is to stop thinking about it. Distraction puts our focus somewhere else. We can distract by playing a game, doing a cross word puzzle, focusing on our breath while we breathe, listening to music and/or watching TV to name a few distractions.
Self Soothe: Self soothing helps to calm our physical response by attending to each of our five senses.
Touch: Take a hot bath and/or apply lotion.
Smell: Light a scented candle or apply an essential oil.
Hear: Turn on an uplifting play list or listen to the birds in the backyard.
Taste: Make yourself some hot chocolate or eat one piece of delicious chocolate
See: Look through a travel magazine or draw/color
These skills simply allow us to be more effective in our life by helping us avoid our knee-jerk reaction to overreact. These skills allow us to calm down, think clearly and problem solve so ultimately, we can create a life worth living! These skills and so many more are taught in the Summit DBT skills classes.