Happy Monday! This week, I would like to share with you a tool used to work toward overall emotional stability and distress tolerance. I’m not sure about you all, but since the world has been in shambles, I have found it much harder to manage my emotions and do things that are good for me. My moods can change quickly, I am irritable, and my overall disposition is fragile and unpleasant. In times of distress, it is importance to check in with certain areas in our life to assure that we are managing all of the factors that contribute to our ability to tolerate distress and manage our emotional well being. If these factors are out of balance, we can’t be successful in reaching emotional stability. The tool is called PLEASE Mastery: PL: Treat (P)hysical I(L)lness. Take care of yourself if you are sick. If you have an underlying health condition, make sure you are managing this by the use of medication or under the guidelines your doctor has given you. Take vitamins to maintain health. See your doctor regularly, even if you believe that you are healthy. Often, changes in mood can be because of imbalances in our physical health. A check up with your doctor and routine blood work can uncover issues that may be road blocks to our overall wellness and emotional stability. E: (E)at balanced meals. Eat often and give yourself quality fuel. If our brain isn’t fed, it can not reliably regulate our thoughts and emotions. Balance foods that nourish your soul and your body, and practice intuitive eating. But above all… make sure you are eating something. Calories = energy, no matter where they come from. A: (A)void mood altering substances. Drugs and alcohol make us more emotionally vulnerable. But don’t forget to consider things like caffeine and nicotine as well. I know that when I overdo coffee in the morning, it greatly impacts my anxiety level throughout the day. An occasional drink or two is manageable, but if you notice that your mood has changed recently, reflect on what your drinking pattern has looked like in the past week or two. Substances can numb us, or intensify the peaks and valleys of our emotional expression. S: (S)leep. I can’t stress this importance of this enough. Coming from someone who used to regularly go 30+ hours without sleeping, just so I could “do it all”: IT IS NOT WORTH IT. Lack of sleep will compromise every aspect of your health. 5 or 6 hours of sleep is not enough. In addition to getting enough sleep, pay attention to the quality of your sleep. Avoid screens before bed, practice meditation if you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, avoid afternoon caffeine, and make a regular bedtime a priority. E: (E)xercise. Move your body in a way that brings you joy and makes your body feel good. Honor rest when your body needs it. Try to move for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Exercise moves stagnant energy through our bodies and releases mood boosting chemicals. It also helps us achieve better physical health. Exercise does not have to take place in a gym. Gardening, a neighborhood walk, a living room dance party, and house cleaning project can all give you the benefit of more traditional exercise. Mastery: Each day, engage in an activity that gives you a sense of mastery. This could be checking something off of the to-do list, learning a new skill, or practicing a skill that you are already good at. This helps us build confidence and feelings of competence, and shifts our self-concept to more strengths based, and less critical. When you notice your emotions feel out of control or different than they normally do, use the PLEASE Mastery tool to assess your life and what may be out of balance. Don’t be afraid to seek help if this feels overwhelming to do on your own, or if this tool is not helping your mood stabilize. And lastly, give yourself grace. We can’t expect ourselves to be in perfect balance all of the time. But noticing when there are changes we can make to help us feel better is a powerful ability.
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