This month’s highlight is the PLEASE skills. In DBT when analyzing behaviors we pay particular attention to something called vulnerability factors, which can make non-preferred emotions more intense. I’m sure we can all think of a time where we haven’t gotten enough sleep or haven’t eaten anything that day and notice that our fuse could be shorter emotionally speaking. While some unpleasant events are out of our control, luckily our PLEASE skills are something we can remain cognizant about as a way to build a psychological buffer to distress. The PLEASE skills include the following:

  • (treat) PhysicaL illnesses —attending doctor’s appointments, taking care of yourself when you are sick and taking medications as prescribed/not missing doses 
  • (balanced) Eating — be mindful of the amount, and what you are eating, and how it impacts your emotional experiences; try your best not to skip meals or overeat
  • Avoid mood-altering substances — avoid illicit drugs and use alcohol in moderation if at all, and be mindful of the impact of caffeine especially if you struggle with anxiety
  • Sleep — try to keep a consistent sleep schedule aiming for approximately 7 to 9 hours, or at least the amount that helps you feel physically and mentally rested
  • Exercise —the goal here is not to run a marathon each day, instead try to get some movement in daily, preferably at least 20 minutes; this can include walking, stretching, yoga or dancing around in your house to a few of your favorite songs 

A helpful first step is to take stock of your current vulnerability factors. Looking at the list above, can you recognize which facets impact your emotional well-being the most? If so, it would be effective to make it a goal to work on those first and then work your way up to integrating all of the PLEASE skills to make a positive impact on your mental health, as well as your physical health. Here is a PLEASE Quiz to utilize to see your current baseline. 

Blog written by: Dr Krystal Lopez, Psy.D

Image by: Venti Views on Unsplash

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