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The most recent DBT session focused on reducing vulnerability to negative emotions, and then steps for increasing positive emotions. Now, this stuff may sound pretty obvious, but it’s reinforcement that I need to do it. I guess I’m getting to the point of accepting this enough that I can see the value in trying to really deal with bipolar via lifestyle. Some of that took developing enough sensitivity to see it, though.

Anyway, the handout about reducing vulnerability to negative emotion is focused on keeping out of emotion mind. The acronym is “PLEASE MASTER” and it’s a really horrible one, for several reasons. But the instructions are in fact the same I’ve seen elsewhere, and really emphasize preventative management to improve mood stability. I hate to admit it, but they’re right. I need a stable sleep schedule, and do best with a routine daily life, which is completely at odds with so much of my ambitions and career expectations.

Right. Back to reducing vulnerability to negative emotions:

  1. Treat physical illness: see a doctor when you need to and take yer meds
  2. Balance eating: don’t eat too much or too little, and avoid foods that make you feel overly emotional
  3. Avoid mood-altering drugs: including alcohol
  4. Balance sleep: get the amount of sleep that makes you feel good. (sadly a variable thing…)
  5. Get exercise: every day. It’s really good for you in so very many ways. Even if you hate it.
  6. Build mastery: try to do one thing a day to make yourself feel competent and in control.

Next, we’re supposed to deliberately work to increase positive emotions. Also quite obvious, no? Actually, not so much if you don’t feel like you’re worth taking the time and effort to do something to make yourself feel good. That kind of thinking is much too familiar.

The overview handout for increasing positive emotions focuses on building positive experiences, both in the short term and long term. Doing something every day that you enjoy, something to prompt a pleasant emotion, for short-term. In the long term, work to accumulate positives, attend to relationships, and avoid avoiding. The other parts of the handout, I don’t think we really discussed. They say to be mindful of positive experiences and unmindful of worries. That speaks to a common cognitive error of overfocusing on the negative to the exclusion of the positive, which is pretty much an automatic response for a lot of people.

DBT, now with 100% more Wordles! From the Emotion Regulation Adult Pleasant Activities Schedule handout.

And then there’s the “Adult Pleasant Activities Schedule” which basically means, list of things you might find fun to do, except with a really stuffy name. It’s a 176-item list. Here are a few that I picked out as things that I’d go for:

  • Going on vacation
  • Recycling old items
  • Going on a date
  • Thinking I have done a full day’s work
  • Repairing things around the house
  • Taking care of my plants (which I did all morning today)
  • Sex
  • Going hiking
  • Working
  • Kissing
  • Early morning coffee and newspaper
  • Traveling to national parks
  • Writing postcards
  • Knitting
  • Book shopping
  • Et cetera

What would “Adult Pleasant Activities” would you schedule?

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