Why Managing Crisis Matters
A crisis can be small or large, although it can vary based on who’s having the experience. Your teen’s or young adult’s crisis may seem small to you as parents, yet catastrophic to the teen experiencing it. And that’s what really matters! It’s up to your teen having the challenge to say of it feels like a crisis and to be able handle the difficult situation.
Where DBT and Wise Mind come in is to shift the perspective or outlook on the experience. Sure, it might still present itself as a challenge or something to avoid. Make it go away, if possible. However, avoiding distress only makes things worse in the end. The point is to decrease the intensity of the pain and tone things down a bit.. Once your teen can start to do that their perspective shifts. This happens as they learn new coping skills. The sort we’re presenting here. Skills for you to try as a parent. Skills to share with your adolescent. And, like anything based on skills, this too requires practice. It wants your attention, and then pleases you, as step by step you notice changes. A shift to the middle, that place where things feel better, a bit less overwhelming with maybe some hope of “can do.”
Even though these are “Steps” let’s run through them quickly so you can move on to giving them a try! First is the acronym. Remember that in DBT you can use this ACCEPTS mnemonic to readily recall each step. This helps a lot when you are under stress. Begin by realizing you ACCEPT that the situation you’re in is troubling, so you’re using your ACCEPTS practice to guide you to your middle ground.
Wise Mind Steps
It helps to find ways to practice one or more of these skills every day. That includes when you’re not having a crisis. Why? Because that is how you grow your distraction abilities. You learn what works and what doesn’t. Then you can try it out on mildly irritating situations. This gives you the feedback that helps you build crisis-managing skills.
A is for Activities or Actions: These are things to do that distract you or soothe you. They can include going outside, playing a game, doing a hobby, and listening to favorite music. These can change over time as you find whatever has the best effect for you. Then, write them down in a couple of places. Keep the list on your phone or nearby so you can refer to it when need be.
C is for Contributions: This is when you’re kind to someone, volunteer in the community, or share your skills at home or in your neighborhood. It may be as simple as thoughtful words or hours spent clearing a local hiking trail. Either way, you have brightened someone’s day! Be sure to keep a list, including what makes you aware of the gift of giving.
C for comparisons: Comparing yourself with others in about the same place as you can aid with tracking your improvement. Some prefer to continually compare themselves from one month ago with today. That is because your life is unique, with ups and downs. The point is to find what sort of comparison shows if you’re gaining ground or have more steps to take.
E is for emotions: You can distract yourself with these by moving yourself from one emotional state to another. When you’re down, watch a funny movie or stand up comedian. Music can alter your mood too! Some suggest starting with the emotion of the moment and then shifting it. That happens when you pick something that gives you energy, increasing your feelings of what you can do.
P is to push away: You take whatever is upsetting you and push it away. Or you picture putting the discomfort or gray cloud feeling in a trash can and taping the lid shut. Whatever you choose for an image, you’re moving away from the cause of distress and placing a physical barrier between you and it.
T is for thoughts: Move your thoughts to something other than what’s currently on your mind. Some people pick an inner picture of their favorite getaway place. This method is good for when you need to create a quick shift. You transport yourself in your mind to the local park, gym, or safe space. Or count backwards from 100 or even 1000! That concentration helps to quickly distract your attention.
S is for sensory input: Use your senses as a form of distraction. Running your hands in cold water, drinking warm cocoa, or wrapping up in a blanket or quilt. Noise, an intense video game, rolling on the grass, and eating something spicy are all actions that use different senses to distract. Try different options to decide what is best for you!
Everything that you learn about your responses you can try again. Those that give you good results help with moving toward the middle!
If you or your teen need support in learning skills to manage distress our DBT specialists are standing by to help. Contact us here to learn more!