Yesterday I mentioned some clinical ways that emotion regulation can be evaluated and handled. Today I was reminded, as my anger flared more than once, that there are a number of non-clinical ways that are really good at helping me deal with overwhelming emotions. The first is running away, obviously actually running away is a bad idea (not that I haven’t), but just escaping for a little while can be really helpful. Some of my favorite things options for running away are going to the park with my in-laws dog or walking around the zoo, going to stores like Anthropologie and planning craft projects, wandering craft stores, and shopping at thrift stores. The thrift stores where I live are crazy amazing and there are some really awesome local craft stores that are cheaper than the big chains as well. That actually brings me to the next way I handle overwhelming emotions, crafting. I love to knit, paint, take photographs and edit them, design and make jewelry, among other crafty things. I use Pinterest to come up with so many amazing ideas. Completing a project like that really helps me feel a sense of accomplishment, and when I love the way it looks it makes me really proud of myself. I also bake, clean, play with my cats…actually at the partial program I attended recently they gave us a list of 101 coping skills and those things were all on there. I don’t know that I would call them actual coping skills because they really seem like easy distractions to help remove the immediate issue that is overwhelming and give some distance. Distance will, in a perfect world, provide an opportunity to look at the situation in an unbiased way and find a real solution.
For me this almost never works. Distraction helps while I’m actually participating in the activity but my brain refuses to let go of the reason why I was worked up in the first place. This is actually the reason why I’m going to begin working through my DBT books again, really focusing on keeping up with the activities. The other thing I am going to embark on is the study of yoga. When I was in the partial program there was a specialist that came in 3 times a week to introduce breathing techniques and meditation. Most people scoffed at the practice and hated how sleepy it made them feel, but I have always enjoyed guided meditations. The whisper community on YouTube is a lifesaver for me, especially people like Maria, Esmerelda, Lilium and Ilse. I use their meditations to calm my anger, help my manic brain slow down when I go into overdrive, and I also use the videos to fall asleep when I’m not doing well. They have been a lifesaver during the end of this pregnancy for sleep, as well as during the horror that has been the last year and a half.
I’ve used those kinds of videos for the last several years for the express purpose of helping stay even emotionally. What I’m starting to realize is there is a much deeper connection with myself I’m missing out on by only using these videos. They are great as a distraction or an aide for providing distance, but when I was in the partial program I was able to use breath control techniques to distance myself from my emotions. I could then use that distance to evaluate the situation while I was within the meditation. The specialist also taught us a little about yoga, and it is so much more than I imagined. To me it was just some stretching, and maybe a little bit of meditation and granola. It turns out that the actual practice can contain so much more. I’m pretty sure the specialist was practicing Raja yoga. This is the type of behavior I’m looking to replicate, it’s a whole life experience and a real exercise in the practice of gratefulness. It seems to be something that will help me deflect emotions and live in a more even, healthy, happy way.