ACCEPTS: Coping with Distress By Using DBT #AtoZChallenge

I haven’t decided on a theme for this year’s #AtoZChallenge, so I can basically write about whatever comes to mind. Right now, we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and we’ll most likely be by the end of April still. As such, today’s post is about self-care in times of distress.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a commonly-used approach to treating emotion regulation issues such as those found in borderline personality disorder, but its strategies can be useful for anyone having a hard time coping with crisis. DBT’s founder Marsha M. Linehan was probably fond of acronyms, as DBT has many. One such acronym, which is particularly useful for coping with difficult emotions during times of distress, is ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS stands for the following.

Activities: find a hobby or sport to do. Yes, playing video games or watching Netflix counts. For me, reading is my hobby of choice.

Contributing: do some form of volunteer work or help a friend. The book The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care by Anna Borges provides babysitting for a friend as an example. This is not likely possible in these times of lockdown, but helping out online probably also counts.

Comparison: look to a real or fictional situation that could be worse.

Emotions: try to channel the exact opposite of the emotion you’re trying to fight. For example, if you’re sad, watch funny YouTube videos. You can also train yourself to act opposite of the emotion. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to put on a smile when you’re sad, though that might help. It also means, for example, doing the opposite of your initial response to your emotion. For example, if you’re feeling like sleeping it off, try exercise.

Push away: visualize building a wall between you and the negative emotion or imagine that it is a mass you can push away.

Thoughts: do something that requires your full cognitive attention. The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care clarifies that you don’t need to do any sort of critical thinking. Borges instead provides the example of reading a book, focusing on each sentence intently. I prefer word games.

Sensation: provide yourself with a strong sensation to focus on. For example, hold some cubes of ice. I’ve seen some people even suggest smelling ammonia. That’s crazy to me (I initially thought ammonia was another acronym). Borges, however, says you can actually focus on pleasant sensations such as soft textures too. I love essential oils.

What are your favorite techniques of coping with distress?

13 thoughts on “ACCEPTS: Coping with Distress By Using DBT #AtoZChallenge

  1. This is brilliant.. Distraction can be very positive as is acting countrary to the emotion.. I get out into nature and then I love watching comedy.. that really helps me.. I think also doing something like soaking my feet in lavender then massaging them helps to soothe and ground me.. Loved all of your suggestions though.. Hope you are coping okay.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have two favorite techniques of coping with distress: I guess the first one is working. I can do my job from home, so I do. I have to, and during what we call “pedagogical continuity” in France, I have a lot of work. The second one is quilting, a very relaxing hobby, a kind of therapy.
    Take care and stay healthy
    A = Art Déco

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice! I think we all need to hear this in time of distress like the current situation.
    For me, it’s live streaming cameras from zoos, where I can just watch the animals do their animal things 😀
    Happy A to Z!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I count my blessings. That always uplifts my mood. Whenever I think I have it bad I soon realize there’s another who has it worse. Absorbing myself in mewsic or art allows me to chillax and focus on positive vibes. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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