Distress Tolerance

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Smithmom, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Distress in this context meaning a state of mind when you cannot think, organize, focus. Call it panic or shock. For example, you get a phone call that your child is missing in another state(s). Can't hop on a plane cause you wouldn't know where to go or don't have the money. Some people may never have the state of distress or shock. They may just jump into action. But some of us just get stunned. What to do when there's really nothing you can do? Distraction doesn't work cause you can't think about anything else in this state of mind. Some people chatter incessantly or reach for a substance to " calm down". This state of panic may last 5 minutes or 5 hours. I submit that for some of us this is what we call drama. The drama that our children create in our lives. They panic and deal with it by dumping it on us. We wish they had better coping skills.

    I always highly recommend DBT therapy. There's a module called Distress Tolerance. Taught me a lot. The crux of it as I recall is that you should do something "mindless". It suggests that you can cope better if you have a "toolbox" of ways to cope that are healthy. Ways that work for you.

    Some of us do this automatically. I pace. Some may just sit and stare into space. Some pray. My DBT class handed out a business card for the wallet of ways to cope. So 3 words per line maybe 10 lines. I suggest that we should all have such a list. If we could get our kids to make such a list and use it even better.

    But i wonder if we can't develop a list of suggestions. What do you do mindlessly/ recommend your child do when in a state of distress?

    Go for a brisk walk or walk the dog briskly for 15 minutes.
    Clean the bathroom from top to bottom.
    Water the garden/ cut the lawn.
    Change every bed in the house.
  2. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    I clean and wash clothes.. Mow the lawn if needed. Paint bedrooms. Take a long walk while listening to my favorite music. And occasionally drink more than my one usual drink to take the edge off.
  3. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Working on my list! What is have so far:
    • Putting headphones on and blasting my music while engaged in some physical activity - cleaning, gardening, or even just pacing or dancing. (Well, I call it dancing - not sure anyone else would!)
    • Going for a long brisk walk in the park (running was better but my running days are behind me)
    • Doing a puzzle game on my iPad - something not so hard I just stare and give up, but hard enough so my brain has to focus on it
    • Calling R for help and letting her comfort me
    In extreme distress I just want to shut down, crawl into a dark corner and rock. But I know I’m better if I keep moving. Number one on my list above is my best go to. The music is essential, and it has to be headphones to shut out the rest of the world. Something with a strong pulse to keep me moving forward and a lot of energy to combat darker moods.
  4. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Just proves how individual this is.. Loud music stresses me horribly. Like chalk on a board to me. But I agree with the upbeat tone of the music. In shock though I use silence indoors or nature/ normal background outdoors.

    I do solitaire and sudoku on my phone without thinking. For distress, comfort and thought processing.

    In distress and pain I also do what I call my hibernation. Alone on my bed often rocking.
  5. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Driving somewhere peaceful with water if its warm enough

    Watching mindless shows with no plot

    Take a nap

    Country music

    Sometimes if in the mood cooking
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Very occasionally I take a Xanex. When M got the call his mother went to the hospital, that is what I did. I felt I could not take more.

    But mainly I online shop. I get fixated on a specific thing, that can come at me from nowhere. It just enters my mind. Right now it is electric blankets. I never bought an electric blanket or wanted one. Now that is all I am thinking about. And cotton coated tablecloths. A few months ago it was electric multicookers. A month ago it was spiralizers. I am not recommending this. But this is what I do.

    That would be a good goal: To ID a list of proactive, healthy distress busters. If I did have a list it would start with:

    Novels on IPOD.
    Meditation tapes.
  7. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I forgot animals. The animals always help.

    It’s funny, mostly I hate loud environments, too. I can’t handle concerts or live music venues except classical or maybe some jazz. Hate parties. Hate other people’s music. Don’t even listen to my own music on speaker. It very specifically has to be headphones. It’s something that I use to block the rest of the world out.

    I love podcasts when I’m in a good mood but i can’t focus on them when I’m distressed. And my mind wanders too much to listen to novels. I love to read, but again not when I’m upset.
  8. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    So interesting.

    Cooking should be on my list. Easy to do mindlessly. But I so rarely have everything so it requires thought to find a recipe with what I have. Need to find a comfort food recipe I can make with everything from the cabinet. Hmm maybe I can figure out mac n cheese with cheddar ch soup n powdered milk. Plus the end result is comfort food. So motivation.

    Copa... I do shopping for comfort, retail therapy and also for boredom relief. But in distress I can't organize my thoughts. So never get anywhere but frustrated. Right now looking for a kettle but can't find a single one expected to last 6 mo so end up frustrated. So no comfort or therapy now.

    Triedntrue. Driving I can do without thinking. But the water I find comforting in a stressful situation, not in distress. Just one of those natural reactions. If its waves it does come under another part of DBT. Mindfulness. Moving water does work for me for mindfulness.

    Both of my older kids need help with distress tolerance. My contamination phobia kid... I know that his rages when he was young were about contamination. I assume that he had the fog of distress in the face of contamination. I think a lot of his sub abuse was also about contamination. My middle one creates drama/ hysteria when in distress.

    My mother used valium for decades for anxiety attacks.
  9. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    We talked in another thread about breathing techniques. I think focused breathing can really help in a panic if I can remember to do it. I like the bamboo breathing technique.

    Smithmom, I wonder if focused breathing would help your son? Maybe combined with music of his choice.
  10. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    I agree that breathing techniques can help and belong on the list for some people. For me not so much for distress. For me breathing works for self-calming as in the person in front of me in line at the grocery store is paying in pennies rather than bills. Its like counting to 10 for me. But it doesn't help me when there's the fog that's not going to go away in 5 minutes. I guess its a question of how long the distress is going to last?

    Neither of my son's will admit they have a problem. The oldest won't admit he has either a contamination problem or any problem that might cause him to use. In his terms he uses just because he likes it. The middle one feels entitled to his hysteria and judges my calm or attempts to calm him to be lack of empathy or lack of caring of him. For both, my own therapy is just an attempt to avoid caring and feeling. Psychotherapy to them is for weak people who complain too much! The irony here is that I raised them. And in a world of intelligent, caring people around them. This is nature, not nurture!
  11. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    What helps me:

    Petting our furry babies
    Talking to husband
  12. mentalcase

    mentalcase New Member

    This is a great thread and spot on. My therapist says I'm still in shock from all the insane things that have happened in our home in such a short time frame. Anyhow, cleaning and organizing really helps me. I like to do it while listening to music. There's something comforting about seeing my kitchen organized..haha I'm a little neurotic myself. Mowing, weeding works for me too.

    Biking on a trail also really helps or just walking. I like walking with friends and just listening to them talk about mundane stuff. It just takes me out of myself. I am also a firm believer in mantras. I have a rosary and just say the rosary over and over, but I think any repetitive prayer helps (like the serenity prayer).
  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Talking to God and my spirit guide and angels

    Meditating at night

    Playing with my dogs

    Cuddling with my husband

    Writing and reading

    Mindless silly television like Judge Judy

    Lunch or shopping with my kids

    Walking/jogging to music