If you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you likely suffer from mood swings. You know that there are some moments that you wish would never end, and some that just don’t seem to end soon enough.
So what do you do if you find yourself in a distressing situation and there is little you can do to change it? Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which was developed for BPD treatment, offers some strategies for improving a situation and your mood.
The letters in IMPROVE each stand for a strategy of situation improvement in DBT. The next time your find yourself unable to change a situation, try using one or more of these strategies to improve your mood:
I stands for imagery. Your imagination can do wonders. It can produce calming effects and can help you visualize upcoming situations that make you feel nervous. If you can use Dialectical Behavior Therapy techniques to visualize yourself doing well, you are more likely to do well.
M stands for meaning. An old saying goes, “Everything happens for a reason.” Even if the stress you are experiencing seems senseless or unfair, try to focus on what you are learning from it or where it is leading you.
P stands for prayer. Not everyone is religious, but you don’t have to be in order to pray. Simply repeating a mantra such as “Peace” can help calm your mind in the same way that prayer does. If you do believe in a higher power, go ahead and use a standard prayer or invent your own.
R stands for relaxation. Stop whatever you are doing and relax. You can do this by breathing, tensing your muscles and then releasing the tension. Self-soothing techniques will also help you relax. Because people with BPD struggle with anger, these techniques are especially important to learn.
O stands for one thing in the moment. You are only present in one moment at a time, and so you should focus your mind to pay attention to it. Notice all of the sights and sounds of your surroundings; experience only the feelings you are having at the moment. One of the skills learned through DBT is how to live in the moment and be mindful of your senses and emotions.
V stands for vacation. Not everyone can jump on a plane to Hawaii the moment that stress starts to take over. However, if you can leave a situation for just five minutes, do it. Take a walk outside or simply move to a different room.
E stands for encouragement. People with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to have a poor self-image, which can be defeating. Your self-talk is your greatest ally in a stressful situation. By telling yourself, “I’m going to make the most out of this moment,” you are already well on your way to improving the moment.
Using these Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills as part of your Borderline Personality Disorder treatment will result in more balanced moods and a more stress-free life.