Coping skills

As a DBT therapist who leads three skills groups at Hartstein Psychological in addition to seeing individual clients, I have taught the Distress Tolerance ACCEPTS skills too many times to count throughout my career and have used them even more in my own life (they work!).
Fall is typically a time of transition for most people, regardless of age or stage of life. School-age children are returning from their school-free summers. College students are returning to school, often after a summer of exposure to the working-world through a job or internship. And, working adults and parents also adjust to a more structured routine.
Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed by an emotion and as a result, acted on that emotion, only to regret it later? I know I have. We’ve all experienced a moment when we've responded with an emotionally-charged text or email, later wishing we had never pressed send.
I am that mom that let’s my daughter climb on the playground without shadowing her every move. I’m also the mom who let’s my daughter steal toys from other kids and vice versa without getting involved. Lastly, I’m that mom who will stand there and let my daughter have a tantrum without trying to stop it, regardless if we're in a public place or not.
The holiday season can bring up a plethora of emotions for all of us and these emotions can be positive, negative, and everything in between. All these emotions, combined with seasonal triggers, can make for some very overwhelming thoughts and can leave us prone to mood swings and emotional dysregulation. While people mean well this time of year, hearing "Happy Holidays!" over and over again can feel a bit invalidating or can invoke feelings like sadness or disappointment if life hasn’t felt so happy lately.
As a DBT therapist, one of my primary goals when working with clients is to help supply effective skills and coping mechanisms to help them manage their emotions when things may be difficult. While reviewing these skills, I often find that these children, adolescents and young adults have had very little opportunity to build and/or practice coping mechanisms on their own since they were little.
As any high school senior knows, the start of spring does not necessarily call to mind flowers and warmer weather. It means a plethora of emotions such as excitement, anxiety and fear; followed by emails, envelopes from colleges, and then more emotions. Spring is “college admissions decision time” and the focus of high school seniors is on determining which college or university is best for them and how they will spend the next four years.
When we think of the holiday season, two thoughts might come to mind. On one side we have Hallmark’s branding of the happy family gathered around a table, breaking bread, laughing and enjoying their time together. On the other side, we have Hollywood movies portraying a constant chaotic, stressful gathering of people who just barely tolerate one another. Which is truth? Well that probably varies for each individual person...
Many of us deal with stress and frustration multiple times each day. From delays on the subway to friendship or family drama, these events can interfere with your mood and create more emotional dysregulation if they are pushed away or ignored. During these times, the IMPROVE skill, developed by Marsha Linehan, can be used to reduce the intensity of their emotions in any kind of situation and feel more in control of their lives.