The Holiday Season is upon us – this year it seems to have come far too soon. Several of my friends are putting up their holiday decorations BEFORE Thanksgiving and I heard Christmas music on my car radio today – with still 6 weeks to go until Christmas Day.
People have shared with me that with all the negative and virulent news around us, whether it be shootings, political shenanigans, devastating fires and so on, they need reminders of the happy and good things in their lives. Preparing for holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are times for celebration, appreciation, and joy. AND the holidays can also be a stressful time for many. Doing our best to stay mindful to the present moment and not engage in the propagation of ‘stories of suffering’ whether they be our own or others’, can help keep us feel centered and grateful for the ‘good’ in our lives. DBT has changed my life in so many amazing ways and I want to share two of my favorite Distress Tolerance skills that help me through the holiday season. These are the Two “C’s” from ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS is a Distress Tolerance skill set to help tolerate negative emotions.
ACCEPTS is a mnemonic that stands for:
A = Activities
C = Contributing
C = Comparisons
E = Emotions
P = Push Away
T = Thoughts
S = Sensations
Most especially, the Holiday Season helps to remind me of the importance of ‘CONTRIBUTING’ and ‘COMPARISONS’.
CONTRIBUTING encourages you to do something kind for another. By being of service, you can relieve emotional distress in numerous ways. CONTRIBUTING takes your mind off the problem that is causing you distress and through helping others, we in turn feel good about ourselves.
Here are some ideas of ‘Contributing’ during the Holiday Season:
- Donate instead of buying gifts
- World Wild-Life Fund: I love to support their efforts to save animals from extinction. https://www.worldwildlife.org
- World Vision: You can buy a goat and chickens for sustainable living in underprivileged countries. https://donate.worldvision.org
- Jewish National Fund: Plant trees in Israel for connection, hope, and renewal. http://usa.jnf.org/jnf-tree-planting-center
- Start or donate to a toy drive
- Donate to a food drive
- Sponsor a child, adolescent or family in need
- Work at a soup kitchen
- Work at a food bank
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
COMPARISONS is another great tool because it helps put our lives in perspective. Given the recent slew of California fires, how many have lost their homes? How many will be homeless through the Holiday Season? How many are suffering more than you? The goal of COMPARISONS is not to cause you distress and emotional pain to your current situation. The skill is designed to offer you a different perspective to whatever you may be experiencing right now. Making a daily gratitude list encourages me to count my blessings in knowing how fortunate I am in compared to others.
I hope these skills are as useful to you as they are to me. We would love to hear your ideas about using CONTRIBUTING and COMPARISONS during this time of the year. Share with us so we can post your idea to our Instagram Stories!
Dr Michele Lob PsyD., MFT, CEDS
The DBT Center of Orange County Team Wishes You Happy Holidays!!!