How DBT Can Help with Anxiety About the World Reopening and Returning to “Normal”
By Jeanette Lorandini
Be careful what you wish for. We’ve all heard this warning at one time or another. Lately, though, it feels particularly relevant. After more than a year of pandemic upheaval, a return to “normal” is slowly happening. For those of you struggling with anxiety, there are two questions looming large:
What does “normal” mean anymore?
How do I handle yet another major transition?
We were encouraged to avoid everyone and everything. Now, the guidelines are shifting. But the human brain does not work like that. There’s no switch to be flipped. It’s a process and it may require outside help in the form of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
DBT falls under the general umbrella of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy are usually related to the creation of acceptance and change. More specifically, this involves an acceptance of present conditions.
From there grows the awareness that the future must involve change. Through modalities like skills training and individual therapy, DBT results include:
Better regulation of one’s emotions
Thriving in the present moment
Healthy coping skills
Improving your relationship with yourself and others
Replacing negative patterns with positive changes
As you dip your toe into the new normal, DBT can be an immense help.
4 Ways DBT Can Help with Anxiety About the World Reopening and Returning to “Normal”
1. Embracing Mindfulness
Too often, we use the present as a launching pad to aim our focus elsewhere. We may ruminate over last regrets. We may build up anxiety about the future. Meanwhile, life is happening here and now. DBT teaches and encourages mindfulness. In this state, it’s easier to:
Release and let go of the past
Focus on what is actually within your control
Make the changes needed to thrive in the future
2. Staying Grounded and Calm
Stress is inevitable. Stressing out is not. In times of turmoil, DBT gets us focusing on our five senses. Sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch sensations can provide the balance we need during a crisis. Awareness of physical sensations gets us away from being stuck in our own heads.
The applications and options are endless. For example, consider how listening to a favorite song can alter your mood.
3. Increasing Your Tolerance to Distress
To follow up on skill #2 above, stressing out is not required. This is true even when you must deal with a scenario you’d really prefer to avoid. DBT encourages you to be aware of your triggers. But it reminds you that you don’t always have to seek avoidance of them. Learning to better tolerate distress is an essential life skill.
4. Developing Acceptance
When the pandemic hit, you may have focused on “why.” As reopening happens, you could be shifting to “how.” Your DBT therapist will encourage you to be more accepting. Life is messy. It is far more productive to make peace with reality — or work to change what you can.
Your anxiety urges you to figure out exactly what’s happening and why. DBT encourages you to accept what’s happening. This enables you to use your energy to soothe yourself and identify what changes you need to make. Such efforts are far more helpful than fixating on details that will keep you stuck.
Talk to a DBT Therapist Today
Your one-on-one DBT sessions can be powerful learning experiences. You’ll come away with useful tools and techniques. Moving forward into a confusing post-pandemic world, these skills will keep you grounded in the present and rooted in acceptance. To learn more about DBT, reach out to set up a free and confidential consultation.