Distract with ACCEPTS

This is a skill set comprised of seven distraction strategies that can be remembered through the acronym ACCEPTS. Distraction can help avoid less effective or dangerous behaviors. It can be helpful to try out different skills at different times to see what works for you. If you don’t find a particular skill effective for you, no problem! You can use others. And then once you feel more regulated, you can then stop distracting and go back and try to address the problem or issue at hand.
** Linehan, M.M. (2015). DBT skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.


Engage in activities that require thought, concentration, and will get your blood pumping. This could be anything from doing a hobby you enjoy to intense exercise.


Focus on someone or something other than your current situation. Do a random act of kindness, volunteer, or anything else that might contribute to a good cause.


Compare your situation to something worse. Remember a time when you were in more distress or compare your situation to someone else going through something more difficult.


Do something that will create a compelling emotion. Watch a scary movie, have someone tell you a funny story, listen to calming music.

Pushing Away

Do away with the negative thoughts by pushing them out of your mind. Imagine writing your problem on a piece of paper, crumbling it up, and throwing it away.


When your emotions feel overwhelming, change your focus to your thoughts. Count to ten, recite a poem in your head, sing a song.


Find physical sensations to distract you from intense negative emotions. Hold an ice cube, eat something sour, rub something soft against your cheek.

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