The ABC PLEASE Skills help you become less vulnerable to painful emotions and increase your resiliency. Think about it as putting a layer of bubble wrap around you.
A is for Accumulate positive emotions
B is for Build mastery
C is for Cope ahead
PLEASE stands for a set of skills to help you take care of your mind by taking care of your body.
Accumulating Positive Emotions
This means intentionally making an effort to engage in pleasant activities. When we have a million things going on, or when we are struggling to manage our emotions, we tend to drop activities that make us happiest or bring us joy first. We need to make sure we are engaging in positive experiences or events, ideally, every day, even if it is something relatively small or fast.
These pleasant activities can be simple. They do not have to be huge and expensive. Think about what brings you joy. It could be going for a walk or bike ride, doing a craft project, taking your dog for a walk, trying food at a new restaurant, watching your favorite YouTube channel, reading a good book, looking at old photos from your favorite trip, taking a bubble bath, calling an old friend, or listening to music. These are just a few examples. The list of pleasant activities is endless.
Plan on doing at least one task each day to build a sense of accomplishment. Gradually increase the difficulty of the task over time. Building mastery can help against feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Examples could include gradually learning and getting better at a new sport or musical performance, learning to cook a meal you like very well, or even doing a great job cleaning up the bathroom! We often give the example of training for a race as an example of building mastery. If someone has not been running long distances but wants to run a longer race, they would gradually increase the distance they are running as they get closer to the race, which is an example of building mastery.
Before you enter into a situation that could bring about a lot of intense emotions, make a plan on how you will effectively cope so you are not caught off-guard with emotion in the moment. Just like you might do before a big sports game, imagine yourself getting through the situation skillfully. As an example, if you know that it is going to be really stressful when you have finals next week and need to balance that with your other activities, you can prepare in advance for how you can handle this situation as well as possible.
Taking Care of Your Body – Sleep
We all have stayed in bed scrolling on social media longer than we want to admit. Phones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light, which interferes with our natural sleep cycles. Blue light actually stops the brain from releasing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel tired. Spending time on your device before bed can trick your brain into thinking that it is still daytime. We recommend turning off electronics 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
We also recommend avoiding exercise, eating heavy or filling foods, and consuming caffeine close to bedtime. Keeping your room cool, having a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time approximately every day), and establishing a bedtime routine can help you sleep better. In addition, be careful with naps! Many teenagers often get into the habit of taking long naps after school which can disrupt their sleep schedule.
Taking Care of Your Body – Nutrition
- Eat regularly with at least two snacks
- Try to eat a variety of food every day- fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy
- Drink water. Skip sugary sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks.
Emotion regulation skills focus on understanding emotions, building resilience, and decreasing both vulnerability and suffering through skill use.
Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where your emotions do not fit the facts of the situation.
Walking the Middle Path
One of the goals of DBT is to “walk the middle path.”
Not only do our relationships impact our emotions, our emotions impact our relationships.
Bad things happen to all of us at some point or another.