I’m back in distress tolerance and we are going over all the different skills you need to make a self care tool box as well as a survival mode tool box.

Some of the skills you learn in distress tolerance you aren’t suppose to use everyday; they are only for when it’s really bad and you just need to get through the day. Other skills add on to routines for self care. Today, I’m gonna focus on general coping skills. (I’ll do crisis stuff later)

Some people never were shown how to take care of themselves emotionally. For others it gets lost. Others it’s a combination of things. The point is, you can learn this skill later or re-learn it. For myself, I lost my self care routine with my partner, I wasn’t really shown, and had several bad coping skills. e.g bad coping skills are things like excessive drinking (been there), self harm (done that), and addiction (have the tshirt).

Alright, so let’s say you had a shit day. What do you do?

If you were me about a year ago I might have A) Drank B) self harmed C) Played World of Warcraft until I was numb (addiction) or punched a wall or kicked something (I still struggle with that). Now C is a challenge (addictions are hard to break permanently), A was easier to give up because I noticed drinking can make me super depressed, B is mostly gone, but it sneaks up on me and I get a little surprised when I am doing it because it’s not like I choose to do it, it oddly just happens and I have to stop myself.

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First of all, if you have any of those behaviours you are gonna need to want to change them. If you don’t want to change, you aren’t and hopefully one day you’ll be ready to consider the possibility of change. That’s ultimately up to you. If you do want to change, you can replace them with other things. (My drinking cheat, was to smoke, which is not great, but it doesn’t depress me. Note: not excessively and not often and there’s so much I hate about smoking it isn’t going to last.) If you don’t have any of those behaviours you might get stuck when bad things happen and go inactive.

Think about all the stuff that makes you feel better. Go small and then go big. Stuff that you can do. e,g I hate when people say “Go on vacation” or “Take time off work” because I can’t afford that. If you can do that and it works, that’s cool, but I can’t.

Now write them down and make a list of ten.

Here’s mine

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1. A hot tea or coffee (lavender tea if it’s night time)

2. Horror or action movies (ideally Aliens-like something with a strong female character, no one listens to her and then they all die, except for her and the people who believed her. I really need for non-believers and gaslighters to die.)

3. Doing the dishes or other small cleaning (It makes me feel like I have control. I might move on to bigger things, but convincing myself to do the dishes is easier than say cleaning the bathroom)

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4. Music (Doesn’t always work if I am numb)

5. Exercise (Will vary on level of emotion. If I am mildly sad I can go to the gym, if I am super sad, I might be able to walk around my apartment. If I am super angry I can run, and run and run.)

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6. Hang out with friends (Also varies on emotional distress. Sometimes I just don’t want to see anyone. Reaching out also builds connection which can make you feel less alone. I suggest picking someone you trust, not an asshole who’s gonna say things like “you should be grateful!” or “Can’t you just not be sad?” (Note: There’s always the surprise asshole, the person you thought was helpful, but SURPRISE! they are an asshole.)

7. Make something (baking, sewing, building. I often build something out of LEGO because it makes me feel like I am capable, the pieces feel nice in my hands and it’s fun. Same with fabric , there’s something soothing about handling fabric. Other people like colouring books for this, I would like to get one too.)

8. Coding/homework (Writing notes for the coding classes I am taking can really get me out of a bad place (depression). I have notes books filled with code. Hand written, which is silly, but I also remember it better)

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9. Writing

10. Painting my nails

Once you’ve made this list. You want to remind yourself that you have it and give yourself suggestions when you are emotionally struggling. I half the time don’t go looking for the sheet, but I remember “Oh make yourself a cup of tea and watch a movie.” Other people I know have put of the sheet in their room, so they can find it.

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Sometimes I’m like “NOOOOOOO I need to suffer!!!” usually I can talk some sense into myself and make myself do the dishes because that’s work, and the part of me that wants to suffer seems to let me do work, then I can cheat and do the nicer stuff.

That’s kinda the big part of self care, is knowing that you can take care of yourself.

Keep working on that night cheese.

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And if you are curious about this series: here’s all the previous posts (I’m a patient not a doctor)