22 Apr Spring Cleaning… for your Soul
The birds are singing, the flowers are in bloom, and yet, somehow after a year of living through the pandemic, you might still feel stuck with the winter blues. Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to freshen up our homes and prepare for the transition into summer. This year, I suggest we shift this tradition to focus more on ourselves—tune in to our emotional needs and get a head start on what can often feel like a daunting task—working on ourselves!
Here are some tips rooted in the DBT emotion regulation skill, ABC PLEASE, to help get you started.
The ABC PLEASE skill is about taking good care of ourselves so we reduce our emotional vulnerabilities, and to help set us up for success in managing our mood and emotions. This skill is important for anyone who wants to improve their emotional health.
ABC PLEASE stands for:
A – Accumulate Positive Emotions
We all need positive experiences in our lives to help us feel happy. In the short term, this means doing something each day that brings you joy such as: going for a walk to enjoy the spring weather, organizing your room, watching a movie, sitting in the park and reading a book, or talking to a friend.
B – Build Mastery
This means doing things that help make us feel accomplished and effective. Mastery is the feeling we get when we succeed at something and over time this feeling can chip away at negative feelings. Some examples could include doing household chores, cooking a meal, fixing something that’s broken, showering/bathing, or doing a puzzle.
C – Cope Ahead
We all face emotionally difficult situations. If we plan ahead and try to anticipate the challenges, we can cope effectively with the situation that might cause intense emotions. This needs to be intentional and could involve visualizing yourself in the situation. You might ask yourself… What do you need to do to be the most prepared you can be? What will help you feel more confident? How do you prepare in terms of regulating your emotions?
PL – Physical Illness
Emotions are not only mental but physical sensations we experience in the body. We must take care of our bodies and treat physical illness to feel prepared to cope with difficult situations when they arise. This also means attending regular doctors appointments and allowing your body to rest when you need it.
E – Balance Eating
Be mindful of how, when, and how much you eat. Eat frequently enough so that hunger doesn’t trigger negative emotions. Try to stay away from foods that make you feel bad as we know eating too much of something (or too little) can make us vulnerable to emotions.
A – Avoid Mood Altering Substances
Alcohol and drugs can impair our judgement and our ability to cope with difficult emotions. Generally, mood altering drugs create more instability and reduced coping skills.
S – Balance Sleep
None of us are at our best when we don’t have proper sleep. Try to set a regular sleep and wake time that doesn’t vary too widely. Creating routine sleep habits can help boost your immune system and improve your memory as well!
E – Get Exercise
Exercise has physical effects on the body and brain that help us regulate our mood. We can take advantage of these effects by being physically active on a regular basis. Regular exercise helps lift mood, decrease stress, and maintain a healthy body weight.
Authored by: Ilana Sancha, LMSW