Self-Care: Could a simple DBT skill be the answer?
Many of us are familiar with the term self-care but many of us still don't make the time to do it. I often find myself asking, why is it that taking care of ourselves is so darn hard sometimes. It seems as though a lot of us are so busy with our jobs, kids, pets, spouses, etc. that we forget all about us! There is a wealth of research touting the benefits of self-care on our overall mental health and wellbeing. Self-care doesn't always have to be pedicures and spa days (although it can be!) a lot of times self- care is about checking in with yourself and staying on top of the basics that often get left behind. Below you will find a classic DBT (Dialectical Behavior Skill) that can help you take care of you!
The DBT skill, PLEASE Master, is a classic for a reason! The acronym serves as an easy reminder to check in with ourselves in regard to the different areas of our lives. When we are taking care of ourselves we reduce the likelihood of becoming emotionally dysregulated and are better able to respond effectively when faced with difficult situations and/or emotions.
The P & L in PLEASE Master stand for “Treat Physical Illness.” This is an important reminder to check in on your medication and health needs. If you have a physical illness that needs attention or a daily medication that needs to be taken, we want to be sure to address this first and foremost, so we are starting each day from our strongest possible place.
E stands for Balanced Eating. What we eat and drink can have an effect on mood, energy and overall sense of physical well-being. Eating regularly throughout the day and with a balance of different nutrients will keep your body and mind well-fueled and most prepared to manage what comes your way. For those who struggle with anxiety or difficulty sleeping, beverages with caffeine are best limited.
Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs serves as the “A” in PLEASE MASTER. When we are under the influence of any substance, our ability to resist various urges is negatively impacted. If you do use drugs or alcohol, notice how they make you feel and the function they serve for you. If we are aware of the function they serve we then can begin to find a more effective and safe alternative.
Balanced Sleep or “S” refers to the importance of adequate sleep to prevent feelings of irritability or agitation during the day. The amount of sleep each individual needs varies, but you can plan to incorporate anywhere from 7-9 hours into your daily schedule. When we are well-rested, we are more alert, aware, resilient and capable of navigating challenges that may come our way.
E stands for Exercise. For most people, exercise is an important part of maintaining optimal health. Furthermore, exercise or as I like to call it "joyful movement" can be a great way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Regular exercise can occur in many ways, whether it’s a short workout video in your living room or a brisk walk with the dog. For individuals in treatment for eating disorders, exercise is a central and particularly delicate subject so it’s essential to honor your personal treatment guidelines when it comes to exercising safely and in a balanced way.
Building MASTERY is the final component of the PLEASE Master skill set. Building Mastery means that we try to engage in activities each and every day that bring us a sense of accomplishment, joy, and confidence. By doing the things we are good at, we promote feel-good sensations and are reminded of our capabilities and strengths as individuals. When we feel self-confident and strong, we are all the more ready to tackle the day.
Whenever possible, utilize this helpful acronym to ensure you are taking good quality care of yourself.