We all benefit from learning to regulate ourselves; whether it’s regulation of our emotions, impulses, or actions.
Within the video above, Cory Turner and Anya Kamenetz speak with Cookie Monster about a couple self-regulation skills, which include deep breathing (belly breath), distraction (discussing Dr. Zhivago), and STOP (Stop and Think). These are also skills taught within Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and are discussed within Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Mindfulness.
Deep Breathing, or “Belly Breath” is a way to increase focus on our physical bodies and help to flip our bodies from a sympathetic nervous system reaction (fight/flight/freeze) into a parasympathetic response (rest/digest). This allows us to calm ourselves move into a logic and rational focused mindset. Deep Breathing is present throughout numerous coping skills (we’ll see it again with STOP).
Distraction is next up, with the focus being on directing our attention toward anything but the identified stimuli; for example chronic pain, an impulse purchase, or maybe even cookies. Distraction can be any number of things, including in our Cookie Monster video, discussing Dr. Zhivago. Other examples could include playing a game, completing a puzzle, listening to emotional music, or doing a grounding exercise (in DBT this is the ACCEPTS skill).
Finally we reach the STOP skill from DBT, referred to in the video briefly as “Stop and Think.” “Simple” concept, harder to use when in our feelings. STOP is an acronym that details the four steps of the skill. 1) Stop. 2) Take a deep breath (there’s that deep breathing again). 3) Observe (what is going on). 4) Proceed mindfully. This is basically a way to catch ourselves, re-center our minds, and then proceed with intention rather than impulse.
Each of these skills requires practice. While they sound simple in theory, they can be difficult to get right. In fact, you won’t always get it right, there will be times when you act on that impulse buy, and that’s ok. Just keep practicing!