The following is a synopsis of a weekly Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group lesson, based on the work of Marsha Linehan out of the University of Washington.
Disclaimer: I LOVE doing this, I think it is desperately needed, and I WANT to do it. However, I have zero time to do it so, while I am committed to giving it my all, I may fall behind or skip a week or two. I apologize in advance for that, and for the fact that I will not be spell checking, fixing formatting, or doing a read through before I post. No offense, but I gotta draw the line somewhere!
Emotion Regulation Skills Module: Increasing Pleasant Activities
This week’s blog is very simple to write, but hard to do. On the heels of last week, reducing emotional vulnerability with the please Master, we also have to increase pleasant activities in order to help our moods be more stable. We do this by mindfully experiencing pleasure, fun, relaxation, and the good things that happen every day. This module provides us with a list of 176 pleasant activities, like “remembering the words and deeds of good friends”, “bowling”, or “doing your nails”. Some of these overlap with self soothing, distracting, or improving the moment skills (Distress Tolerance module), and not all of them are ok for everyone. For example the list has “gardening” on it. I happen to hate gardening so this is not a pleasant activity for me. However many people love gardening and would choose this to improve their mood. It is important to take the time to look at this list and pick the ones that YOU personally would enjoy, either because you have enjoyed it in the past, or because you do it now and enjoy it, or because it sounds like something you would enjoy.
Remember that just because you did it before and didn’t like it, doesn’t mean that you won’t like it at a different time in your life or under different circumstances. However, be mindful of how the activity effects you, as it is meant to improve our moods. Also, be careful not to pick anything that has been a problem behavior for you in the past (such as exercise for eating disordered people), or anything that you feel you SHOULD enjoy doing.
We often feel a victim of our emotions, like we cannot change them. We absolutely can change them, but if we are emotionally vulnerable, it’s harder to do so. In addition, we don’t want to change feelings all the time, sometimes we just need to sit with them. How to do this will be discussed in the next week or two.