DBT – TIP Skills

The aim of TIP Skills in the DBT distress tolerance module is to change our body chemistry and in turn our emotions.

Using these skills in times of distress can be incredibly helpful but I’m certainly no expert, please look for Marsha Linehans book, DBT Skills Training Manual, for a more comprehensive explanation of these skills and how to use them.

When I think about the TIP Skills there is one in particular I have found helpful and that is; TIP the Temperature. It always seems totally effective in making my thoughts stop allowing me to return to some kind of semblance of normally before my anxiety or anger consumes me.

The idea is to fill up a bowl or sink with cold water, hold your breath and put your face in to the water for 30 seconds this activates your bodies dive response which diverts the body’s resources allowing your mind to calm and your heart rate Lower. Changing the Temperature in other ways can also.help.in times of anger and anxiety, run hands under cold water, take off your jumper/coat, have an ice pack in the freezer.

Next on the list of TIP Skills is; Intense Exercise. This is one I usually fail at when I feel distressed. I’m either too anxious to go outside or even leave my room or to angry and just don’t see the point in such an endeavour.

Basically this skill is engaging in intense exercise for a short period of time, running, skipping, jumping, lifting weights anything you want I suppose. This can help to expend the body’s energy in times of stress and I’m sure we have all heard about the benefits of exercise on depression and mental health in general.

Number 3 on the TIP Skills list is; Paced Breathing. Deep breathing is something I do often it seems to be intermittent in its effectiveness for me, sometimes it seems to calm and others it seems to me struggle to even breathe at all.

I have talked before about the benefit of meditation, paced breathing works on a similar theme. Concentrate on breathing slowly 5-6 breaths a minute and try to keep your focus on your breathing, breathe out more slowly than you breathe in. This will help calm the mind when anxious or stressed.

Last on the list is; Paired Muscle Relaxation. I have to admit I have not found this one helpful, although I know others in my group did. I think my body is just so tense all the time in just can’t let go of that and this exercise always make me feel worse than I before.

Another breathing exercise of sorts but instead of just focusing on the breathe you tense the bodies muscles in various different places such as hands, arms, shoulders, face, back stomach, legs when inhaling and relax them whilst exhaling, this is supposed to let go of tension.


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