This week we have been talking about DBT and how to accept and cope effectively with your emotions. Today we are going to focus on how to calm yourself through various methods such as breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and grounding.
It' is amazing what a difference a few deep breaths can make. I often stop clients in session to breathe. It doesn't necessarily solve the problem they are facing, but it soothes them with it's calming effects on the brain. I encourage clients to practice 4x4x4. Four deep breaths in and out, four times, for four sets. But truly just one set of four breaths will start the calming process.
Guided Imagery is just simply listening to someone (even yourself) on audio "guide" you through a calm experience. You listen to the prompts they give you to calm your mind and body. You can have music playing, practice your breathing, and simply picture yourself somewhere else. For example, the guide may have you visualize yourself at the beach, feeling the wind on your face and the sand in your toes. Guiding you through this process for 10-20 minutes can slowly calm your nervous system and help relieve anxiety. I encourage clients to have a guided imagery that they respond well to and keep it on hand.
This is almost like a guided imagery only you lead yourself through a process of relaxing every muscle in your body from head to toe. You incorporate breathing and even music if you like. Studies have shown that doing this 2-3 times a day can significantly reduce depression. There are audio versions of this you can listen to at first and then you learn to do it on yourself so you can do it anytime and anywhere.
Grounding is simply just getting into your senses and our of your thinking. You may close your eyes and feel the wind on your face or the sun through your window. You may notice sounds or smells and focus on them. The goal is to get yourself out of your head and into something besides your thoughts.
Hopefully these techniques will give you a start to managing some challenging emotions. Tomorrow Joleen will share how DBT can help with Trauma.
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. Her areas of expertise include infidelity recovery, faith-based counseling, anxiety and depression, as well as addictions counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.