Distress Tolerance 101: Learning To Ride Life’s Rollercoasters

Life is full of ups and downs. But why do some people seem to coast by largely unaffected while others struggle to cope? A major contributing factor is different levels of individual distress tolerance.

What is distress tolerance?

Distress tolerance is a term used in psychology to describe the ability to tolerate or manage distressing emotions and situations. It is a crucial skill for individuals to navigate the ups and downs of life. The ability to tolerate distress is especially important for individuals who struggle with procrastination and have a difficult time setting and achieving goals.

What Affects Our Levels of Distress Tolerance?

Distress tolerance can be impacted by several factors, including genetics, life experiences, and mental health conditions. Individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse may struggle with distress tolerance as might individuals with conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Can Distress Tolerance Be Developed?

If you think that your distress tolerance isn’t as well developed as it should be, the good news is distress tolerance skills can be learned and developed over time with practice and patience. Here are 10 things that distress tolerance can teach you:

1. How To Recognize and Accept Distress

The first step is to recognize the times when you’re experiencing distressing emotions or situations. It can be difficult to accept these feelings, but it is important to acknowledge them and not push them away.

2. Mindfulness

Distress tolerance involves being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in the present and not get caught up in worries about the future or regrets about the past.

3. Emotional Regulation

Distress tolerance skills can help you regulate your emotions rather than being overwhelmed by them. This involves learning to identify these emotions and using healthy coping mechanisms so you can work on resolving them.

4. Develop Coping Skills

Distress tolerance involves developing coping skills that work for you. This can involve developing healthy habits like exercise, meditation, or talking to a friend or therapist.

5. Teaches Problem-solving

Distress tolerance can teach you problem-solving skills. When faced with a difficult situation, it is essential to analyze the problem and come up with a plan to address it.

6. Develops Resilience

Distress tolerance can help you develop resilience or the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. Resilience is an important skill for individuals who struggle with procrastination and have a difficult time setting and achieving goals.

7. Encourages Acceptance

Distress tolerance can help you accept the things you cannot change. Rather than getting caught up in worry and anxiety about things that are beyond your control, it is important to accept them and move forward.

8. Teaches the Value of Self-care

Distress tolerance skills can help you prioritize self-care. This involves making time for things that make you feel good such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.

9. Establishes Boundaries

Distress tolerance can help you establish and maintain healthy boundaries. This involves saying no to things that do not align with your values or that cause undue stress.

10. Promotes Personal Growth

Distress tolerance can help you grow as a person. By learning to manage distressing emotions and situations, you can develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your needs. The skills that come with distress tolerance can be used in conjunction with therapy to help you heal from underlying trauma and fully grow as a person.

In conclusion, distress tolerance is a crucial life skill for individuals who struggle with procrastination and find it difficult to set and achieve goals. If you struggle with distress tolerance, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.

Seeking therapy, being mindful, exercising, and developing healthy habits will improve your distress tolerance. Remember, developing it takes time and practice. Knowing your shortcomings and wanting to get better is a great way to start. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Before long, you’ll be a stronger and better person!

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