Distress tolerance skills are intended to help distract us and get us through difficult emotional situations one moment at a time. A way to remember this skill is with the acronym: ACCEPTS.
Focus attention on a task you need to get done. Rent movies; watch TV. Clean a room in your house. Find an event to go to. Play computer games. Go walking. Exercise. Surf the Internet. Write e-mails. Play sports. Go out for a meal or eat a favorite food. Call or go out with a friend. Listen to your iPod; download music. Build something. Spend time with your children. Play cards. Read magazines, books, comics. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku.
Find volunteer work to do. Help a friend or family member. Surprise someone with something nice (a card, a favor, a hug). Give away things you don’t need. Call or send an instant message encouraging someone or just to say hello. Make something nice for someone else. Do something thoughtful.
Compare how you are feeling now to a time when you felt different. Think about people coping the same as you or less well than you. Compare yourself to those less fortunate. Watch reality shows about others’ troubles; read about disasters, others’ suffering.
Read emotional books or stories, old letters. Watch emotional TV shows; go to emotional movies. Listen to emotional music. (Be sure the event creates different emotions.) Ideas: Scary movies, joke books, comedies, funny records, religious music, soothing music or music that fires you up, going to a store and reading funny greeting cards.
Push the situation away by leaving it for a while. Leave the situation mentally. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation. Block thoughts and images from your mind. Notice ruminating: Yell “No!” Refuse to think about the painful situations. Put the pain on a shelf. Box it up and put it away for a while. Deny the problem for the moment.
Count to 10; count colors in a painting or poster or out the window; count anything. Repeat words to a song in your mind. Work puzzles. Watch TV or read.
Squeeze a rubber ball very hard. Listen to very loud music. Hold ice in your hand or mouth. Go out in the rain or snow. Take a hot or cold shower.