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Tolerating Discomfort

I’ve just read the memoir of the formidable woman, Marsha Linehan, who developed DBT, or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. She developed it for people with suicidal ideation and behaviours and people with borderline personality disorder. Turns out it supports us all.

DBT is considered one of the most important therapy models of the last 50 years and supports us to accept our lives, radically as they are, AND teaches change skills for coping with big emotions and navigating our relationships.

Note: Accepting something is not the same as judging it to be good. It just is.

One DBT concept that stands out for me is distress tolerance. A new mantra I’ve adopted is ‘I can tolerate discomfort.’ We can handle more than we think we can. And, small, incremental actions when emotions feel big are what helps.

Here’s a DBT tool called TIPP for stress, panic and overwhelm.

T – Dramatically change the Temperature. Put your hands (or whole body) in ice. Get in the sauna. Jump in a pool, have a cold shower or a hot bath with something that smells nice.

I – Intense movement. Get your heart pumping for as long as you need to and allow the stress chemicals to make their way out of your body and complete the stress cycle. Run up and down the stairs in your house (I do this) or get outside and stomp.

P – Paced breathing. In for 4 and out for 6 for as long as you need, perhaps with your hand on your heart or holding yourself in a hug. This will tell your body you’re safe.

P – Paired muscle relaxation. This is good for when you’re in public or trying to sleep. Start from your feet and work your way up and down your body. Tense each muscle group for 5-10 seconds and release. This helps your body process the anxiety and emotion flooding your system. 

Try it and let me know how you go.

I’m excited to have opened my client waitlist!

If you’d like to work with me, you can get in touch here to book a time for counselling & psychotherapy. Online at first then a day a week in Sydney’s Inner West.

Go gently.

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