Have you ever felt like going to bed because your emotions were “off the charts?” I have, and I found myself lying there thinking about what I was so angry about. Turns out, that’s not very helpful. Then I learned a DBT Skill that helped me not only calm down but also helped to turn those negative emotions towards more positive ones as well.
I headed off to the beach.
Well…sort of. You see, I live in Montana. Not much in the way of ocean breezes around here. I grew up near the beaches of Southern California and to say I miss the beach is an understatement. But I can give myself a taste of that experience whenever I want. Here’s how.
1. Think of a place (either real or imaginary) that you would like to be right now.
For me, that’s always the ocean. I love everything about it; even the smell of rotting seaweed.
2. If you can, gather things that will help you experience it with your 5 senses.
When I was a teenager I went to the beach with my friends as often as we could afford the 33 cents for bus fare. We slathered on the suntan lotion and put lemon juice in our hair to lighten it. We listened to The Beach Boys on the radio and let the sound of the waves massage our souls. I have suntan lotion in my bathroom cabinet and lemon juice in the fridge. I also own a CD of ocean waves (you can also listen to waves on Youtube). And of course I own several Beach Boys CD’s. When California Girl comes through the speakers in my room, I am 14-years-old again! These smells and sounds help me remember what it was like to actually be at the beach. One time I even clicked on a small electric heater to simulate the heat of the sun!
3. Sit or lie down and allow yourself to be carried away to the place of your dreams.Your emotions will calm as you soothe yourself with a free, 10-minute vacation.
Try this exercise and let me know where you went in the comments below. I am giving away Christy Matta’s book, The Stress Response, to one lucky winner (randomly picked from the comments).