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  • Improving your ability to Regulate Emotions


    The weather is getting warmer and this makes me appreciate air conditioning.  In the spring, a breeze from the window works fine, but when the temperatures rise, I like the comfort of switching on the air conditioner and watching the temperature go down. It gives me a little control over warm days, and makes life easier.

    In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group we often use the weather and temperature as an analogy for emotions.  Like the weather, our emotions change throughout the day and seasons. Sometimes we can predict how we’ll feel and sometimes we can’t.  And, while we can never fully predict or control our emotions, with planning and care, we can improve our ability to regulate and respond to them.

    Marsha Linehan, PhD. who created DBT, suggests Six Steps to Reduce Emotional Vulnerability, and they’re summarized below.  Again, using the weather analogy, reducing emotional vulnerability is like having a rain coat.  At some point it will rain and when it does, you’ll be less vulnerable to undesired results.

    1. Treat Physical Illness
    2. Eat a Balanced Diet
    3. Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs (non-prescribed or recreational drugs)
    4. Get Balanced Sleep – not too much or too little sound sleep
    5. Get Exercise
    6. Build a Sense of Mastery – This means one thing each day that give you a feeling of confidence and competency.  It’s works best if it’s something slightly difficult or challenging.  Suggestions I’ve heard or used include practicing a new language, building a model, learning a dance, programing an electronic devise, cleaning out a closet, or planting a plant.

    This set of skills is one of many tools for regulating emotions.  They are simple and at the same time, can be difficult to apply.  Using these or any skill takes practice, and with practice the skills can become habit.

    If you’d like to learn more about regulating emotions, or the DBT Skills Group, you can contact Alice at or 706-425-8900 ext. 703.