In the Crisis Survival acronym, ACCEPTS, the letter ‘E’ stands for Emotions–and more particularly, for “different Emotions” from the ones we are feeling. The thought is that tuning in to another, perhaps equally intense emotion, can help us detach a bit from the strong feelings we’re experiencing in our crises. One of Marsha Lineman’s suggestions is listening to emotional music–and this is where Songza comes in. Songza is a FREE music app for your phone with a special feature: Playlists organized by mood. In Songza, you can listen to playlists organized around any of 20 different moods–among them angry, aggressive, confident, dark, happy, mellow, rowdy, and sad. So if you’re feeling angry, pick the “happy” playlist; or if that seems to incongruent, pick the “sad” or the “mellow” one–anything that isn’t your current mood.
Here’s a distraction that may interest some: Unscramble bits and pieces of Melville’s Moby Dick with a phone app called Omby. Though it’s best not to over-use distraction skills–relentless crisis probably means other skills are called for too–a bonus here is that one can eventually unscramble the whole novel. As a distraction skill, this could be filed under Activities or Thoughts in the ACCEPTS crisis distraction skills. And if it’s one of your values to read the classics, go ahead and double-dip: you’re distracting with something effective for Emotion Regulation! Read more about the Omby app here–or click the image below to access the iOS version.
I’m hoping to add to the blog a series of posts about specific Distress Tolerance skills so that readers can come here to find a menu of concrete distraction techniques. I welcome suggestions and favorite techniques from readers, so feel free to send me your favorites.
In the Distress Tolerance module of DBT, we learn the acronym, “ACCEPTS,” which encourages distractions in the presence of high stress by means of the following:
Activities, Contributions, Comparisons, opposite Emotions, Pushing away thoughts, Thoughts of other things (like math problems or song lyrics), and strong Sensations
One ACTIVITY you might try: Join the adult coloring trend. While there has been some dispute in the media about whether adult coloring does all that its proponents claim for it, most of these concerns don’t really matter for Distress Tolerance. Get yourself some markers or crayons (or use whatever pens and pencils you have ready to hand), print a free page, and give coloring a test run. Check in, if you can, with your emotions and your distress levels before you start–even if this is just a test run. Here’s where you can find some patterns:
Now, when you are ready to stop coloring, check in on what happened. What are your prevailing emotions now? How calm or stressed do you feel? Consider:
Is coloring effective in distracting you from whatever was on your mind when you started coloring?
Do you find yourself getting absorbed (i.e., in a Mindfulness sense, participating) in the activity?
Does it give your mind a break from obsessing, perseverating, catastrophizing, or otherwise feeling bad?
If coloring is effective for you, then print out some more pages or buy a book. You can add this skill to your Distress Tolerance repertoire-and congratulate yourself for finding something effective to do in those worst of emotional times.
Among the many available books, the following bring this Distress Tolerance Activity together with Mindfulness ideas:
Blue Star Adult Coloring Books