Monthly Archives: December 2015

Deck the halls with DBT Skills

So, here we are – the holiday season is once again upon us. The rational part of us says, “Everything will be fine, you’ll get it all done in time, no problem.” The emotional part reminds us of how quickly the holiday can ‘sneak up on us’… and how crazy and frantic it feels, in those weeks leading up to it. We try to stay in the moment, be present… stay in the “now”… just  breathe. But, when the holiday season kicks into high gear, we feel anything but prepared… and far from present-minded! We’re thinking of a different type of “presents”… like which one to get Uncle Bob, your daughter, and your boss! Not one gift purchased, not one decoration hung, not one cookie baked – it can feel overwhelming.

So now what? Ah… DBT Skills to the rescue!

DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, can be a helpful tool to provide a little less stress, and a few more moments of calm and peace, during the holidays (or, most anytime, actually). DBT is designed to encourage individuals to change patterns of thinking, and regulate emotions and reactive states, in response to specific triggers. DBT also incorporates an aspect of mindfulness, which helps individuals stay focused in each “present” moment… and to recognize how they might be feeling, without judgement.

But, wait… we live in a culture that wants us to keep looking ahead, anticipating, preparing, spending! We live in a culture that instills fear in us that we aren’t keeping up, and we aren’t ready or prepared in all the right ways, with all the right things. We keep reflecting on deficits of the past, and have anticipatory anxiety about the future.

What are some ways to stay in the present and transcend this culture that is compelling us to race ahead and be prepared?

One of the best ways is to “ground” yourself. What is “Grounding?” Well, grounding is a way of referencing your senses to connect with a ‘present’ moment. Anything from observing a biorhythm to a sense of smell… a sound, a taste, a visual stimulus… Commons suggestions include focusing on your breathing, pressing your feet into the floor, rocking gently, getting a sense of connecting to the ground. However, exploring senses can be intricate and you can develop skill in aiming to recognize increasingly deeper ways that you are connected to the present moment.

And, of course, no better way than to use the activities at hand, such as everything we do over the holiday. Try to break down your movements in the activity of gift wrapping… baking… decorating. Allow yourself to be as poetic and profound as you can, in the ways you note the musculoskeletal movements involved in handwriting holiday cards, and the way your emotional center reacts to the words you choose, and the images on the card.

Stay with it as best you can… and, if you lose focus…that’s okay.

Remember, no judgment. Staying present is a developed skill. It does not come naturally. Just gently coach yourself to try to return to the observation… slow down and mindfully move through each moment, with awareness and intention.

If you go on to study DBT, or practice for a while, you will eventually develop what is called a ‘Wise Mind’. The Wise Mind helps us determine what is effective planning… verses what is unnecessary and ineffective worrying. The Wise Mind allows us to develop a mental ‘toggle switch’ that we can use to alter our state. We can go between states of participatory observation, mindfulness… and, well, just riding the general past and future reflections that are part of everyday life.

There are lots of different DBT skills you can use, at any time of year. Drop in for a workshop, or take part in an ongoing group, or get yourself a DBT coach… soon you’ll feel empowered and in control.

This holiday season… Try using DBT skills.


WFC wishes you, your family and friends a joyful, healthy holiday season!



Holiday De-stressing

The holidays are traditionally a time for festivity and cheer. However, the pressure of traveling, hosting, cooking, and gift-giving can sometimes make the holiday spirit a little less bright.That’s because our bodies respond to stress, and stress affects almost every system in our body. Therefore, finding healthy ways to manage stress over the holidays is just the right gift to give our bodies and our minds.

Here are a few tips on how to have a more positive holiday season.

1) Bah-hum-BUG to bugs and colds and flus… ‘Tis The Season To Be Healthy!

With the change in season, November and December are notorious for catching a cold, the flu, or the stomach bug. Be diligent about disinfecting, staying hydrated, exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy.

  • Buy extra tissues, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and hand cream…
  • Bring your own bottle of water or tea with you, everywhere you go!
  • Set your alarm to make sure you get up to go to the gym… and go!
  • Make sure you have three meals a day… and not too many snacks!
  • Give yourself a little something extra, like a trip to the massage parlor.


2) Ho, ho, ho… No, no, no!

It’s okay to say “No” to people… even if they offer holiday tidings and cheer. There’s only so much we can do, year-round. The holidays can be especially taxing, because of the time crunch we often feel with trying to fit in gift buying and festivities, while school is still in session, and our workload is mounting. So… though you might usually say, “Yes” to the many things your kids want to do, after school… you may decide it’s better to let them play in the basement, while you take care of yourself.

Be realistic about your limits!

If someone on the PTA has asked you to bake five dozen cookies for the school holiday party, don’t just automatically say, Yes. Think a moment. Before agreeing, ask yourself, am I already feeling stressed? Will this just add to the pile? Is there a way to divide up this task so it doesn’t all fall on me?


3) Be A Responsible Giver

Don’t overextend yourself with gift-giving. You may want to get your daughter the computer she’s been asking for, or the latest smartphone, because all of her friends have one. However, look at your budget and make an informed decision based on how much you set aside to spend on gifts, instead of just saying “Yes,” on the spot. You want to give freely, and not with a heavy heart!

4) Relax!

Self-care isn’t just saying “No” to overload… it’s saying “Yes” to experiences that are rejuvenating!

Try to find ways to nurture your mind and spirit during the holidays.

  • Draw a bubble bath, and give yourself a break from wrapping presents.
  • Light holiday scented candle, and awaken your senses.
  • Play music in the car… in the kitchen… in the bedroom… in the bath… create music playlists that suit each environment!
  • Take a walk to get some fresh air and collect some pine cones…
  • When stress is at it’s height, it can be a great time to try meditation, yoga, or mindfulness fitness.
  • Practice Daily Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills… grounding, self-soothing, becoming present!