The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise for Panic, Anxiety and Emotions

The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is a great coping exercise to calm panic attacks, anxiety, stress, or if we’re feeling overwhelmed. In the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise, we reconnect with the world around us by engaging our senses and looking at five things, touching four things, listening to three things, smelling two things, and tasting one thing.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise: Coping with Panic, Anxiety & Emotions

 
 

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DBT Skills: Wise Mind, Emotional Mind and Reasonable Mind

Wise Mind is a core dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) mindfulness skill. In DBT, wise mind is one of three states of minds we can operate out of. Through wise mind we can access our inner wisdom and intuition, but in order to comprehend what we mean by wide mind, it’s helpful to first understand the other two states of mind, reasonable mind, and emotional mind, also known as simple emotion mind. Watch the video below to learn more:

DBT Skills: Wise Mind, Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind

 
 

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DBT Skills: Emotion Regulation

emotionsEmotion regulation is a core dialectical behavior therapy (BDT) skill. In some earlier posts about emotion regulation we learned that the ways in which we often try to deal with emotions—such as trying to problem solve, control, or avoid them—tend to be counterproductive. We also looked at a number of more helpful ways we can deal with our emotions such as validation and acceptance. The video below puts this altogether and explains the DBT skill of emotion regulation. Please also check out my posts on Distress Tolerance, and Wise Mind and Emotional Mind.

DBT Skills: Emotion Regulation and Acceptance

 
 

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Cognitive Therapy and Challenging Negative Thoughts

 

When we’re feeling distressed about something or going through a difficult emotional experience it can feel like our thoughts are running out of control. Our minds start racing and we find ourselves dwelling in the past, worrying about the future, or just spinning our wheels trying to think ourelves out of our problems.

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You Can’t Control Your Emotions

emotionsIn a previous post we looked at what happens when we try to problem solve our emotions. It tends not to be very effective. So when problem solving our emotions fails, we often try to force ourselves to feel a certain way. We fight our emotions and try to control them to make ourselves feel the way we want to feel.

But fighting our emotions only makes them stronger. Next time you’re feeling anxious, try to force yourself to calm down and tell yourself you shouldn’t be so scared and see if that helps. It will likely just lead you to feel more anxious, and experience additional unpleasant emotions such as anger and frustration as well.

Next time you feel sad, tell yourself you are being stupid, that you need to cheer up, that you should be happy, don’t be so weak. Again, trying to control your emotions will only make them stronger.

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Cognitive Fusion and Defusion in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

 

In a previous post we looked at some ways to practice letting go of thoughts, but it can often be difficult to let of thoughts because they have such a powerful pull, especially when the thoughts are related to a strong emotion. In my post, What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?, we learned why acceptance is so important in ACT. Cognitive defusion is a way of accepting our thoughts, allowing them to pass into and out of our minds, without getting stuck in our heads.

Steven Hayes, who developed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), coined the term “cognitive fusion” to describe times when we are so tightly stuck to our thoughts, we become “fused” to them. When we’re experiencing cognitive fusion, we can’t separate ourselves from our thoughts. Our thoughts become our reality. We feel removed from the world outside of our thoughts, removed from our senses, from what we’re doing, and even from the people around us.

The opposite of “cognitive fusion” is “cognitive defusion.” Cognitive defusion involves taking a step back from what’s going on in our minds, and detaching a little from our thoughts. In this state of defusion, we can observe our thoughts and other internal processes without getting lost in them, stuck in them or fused with them. We can simply notice our thoughts, watch them, accept them and let them go if we choose to.

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Watching Thoughts and Letting Them Go

 

In a recent post we looked at how mindfulness can help us let go of our thoughts when we get caught up in ruminating or worrying or just thinking in circles. Letting go of thoughts is never easy, however, and in this post we’ll look at how simply watching our thoughts can help us let them go.

Thoughts pop into our heads all the time, and usually we don’t pay any special attention to them: they enter and leave our minds all on their own, just like a car that drives into our line of sight, remains in our field of vision for a few moments, and then drives along and passes out of our line of sight again.

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How to Validate Your Emotions

emotionsIn previous posts we‘ve seen that many of the ways we try to deal with unpleasant emotions—such as trying to problem solve, control, or avoid them—don’t work. In fact, they tend to make our unpleasant emotions even stronger.

So what can we do when we’re experiencing difficult or painful emotions? Since emotions arise spontaneously and outside of our control we really have no choice but to practice acceptance of our emotions, be they pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

One of the most effective ways to help us accept our emotions is to validate them. In this post, we’ll look at why learning to validate our emotions is important, and how we can start doing it.

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How Not To Deal With Emotions

Emotions can be a great source of richness in our lives. However, when faced with overpowering negative emotions like sadness, guilt, fear and anger, our lives can seem overwhelming.

Most of us have never learned to deal with our emotions. Instead, as Sheri Van Dijk notes in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Using DBT to Regain Control Of Your Emotions and Your Life:

Generally, if you’re experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, you don’t want it to stick around. That’s because it’s uncomfortable, of course. Ironically, this desire to get rid of unpleasant emotions can cause you to behave in ways that cause the emotion to stick around or even to become more intense.

Some of the most common ways we try to get rid of unpleasant emotions are by problems solving them, fighting or attempting to control our emotions, or trying to suppress or avoid them completely. In this post we’ll look at what happens when you try to problem-solve your emotions.

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