There is a Distress Tolerance skill which goes by the acronym ‘ACCEPTS’, and which provides a set of healthy distraction tools to help oneself get through challenging times.
If my SUDs (Subjective Units of Distress) rating was an 8, 9 or 10, it would probably be more effective to use a more ‘urgent’ skill just as TIPP, but for SUDs ratings of around 5, 6 or 7, I find that ACCEPTS is always a good medium-intensity tool for me to access.
ACCEPTS stands for Activites, Comparisons, Contribute, (opposite) Emotion, Push Away, Thoughts and Sensations. I will cover the whole skill more thoroughly here, but for the time being I want to draw on the C, which stands for Contribute, and how I applied it today:
I finished nannying at around 6:30pm this evening having started this morning at 8:30. I knew that nobody would be at my Dad’s house (where I had planned to stay the night) until at least a few hours later, and felt anxious anticipating the next few hours alone there. I was tired after a 10 hour working day, and part of me just wanted to go home and crash. However, knowing myself as I do, I intuitively reckoned that being home by myself during my most vulnerable time would not be the most effective option.
This was where I decided to draw upon my DBT skills by using the C in ACCEPTS – Contributing. I decided to go and visit my Grandma in the hospital and spend some time with her before going home after (by which time my family would be back from the airport). The hospital is not the most convenient place to get to during rush-hour, and especially not when there is a cricket match just ending down the road! But I needed to get outside of myself and my washing-machine head, connect to a wider purpose and stay productive and proactive before I could go to bed a few hours later.
The Contribute skill is a tricky one, especially for Codependents like myself; it is very easy to ‘Over-Contribute’ by constantly giving and sacrificing my own needs to the detriment of myself. So I do have to be careful with this one! I decided to do a mini Pros-And-Cons in my head first, and realised that in this instance, it would be more effective for me to Contribute to my Grandma by going to spend time with her, than it would be to go home feeling vulnerable to the evening alone ahead of me.
Ultimately, I had a lovely time with my Grandma. Not only was she grateful that I had made the effort to go and see her after a long day, but it also helped boost my own mood and mindset too.
Contributing is a skill with a positive ripple-effect, and this evening I certainly experienced that. I was able to not only make someone else’s day a little better, but consequently my own as well.