Practice What You Preach – Using DBT in Real Life

Using DBT in real lifeStorm of the Year was no joke.  A few week ago while I headed from Ventura County to Orange County for a networking event. A commute that would normally take an hour and a half took over 3 hours as the relentless rain kept beating down. Knowing that the weather was going to be this way, I went into this drive with a different mindset than I normally would. I left with plenty of time and planned to use this time to enjoy being alone and take in the sights and sounds which included rain, music (thank goddess for commercial free satellite radio!), the green scenery that we haven’t seen for years, billboards, new construction, and whatever else one would see on a slow paced commute. This mindful perspective shifted the experience and turned this potentially stressful situation into a mini vacation from my daily routine.

There were a few hairy moments and I was able to return to this mindset with my distress tolerance skills, specifically the STOP, Pros and Cons, and willingness. I love the idea of using DBT on the way to the visit DBT Center of Orange County!

When I finally arrived I realized that I didn’t plan ahead and Google search the building which is something that I typically do before arriving some place new. The lack of preplanning, the pouring rain, and the howling winds were enough to unravel all the calm that I had created during the car ride. Looking back, I know that this is something that I must continue to cope ahead for in order to lessen my anxiety, especially when adding new factors that I cannot control like the environment.

I walked into the center a bit frazzled but was able to sit in a beautifully decorated room where I was able to collect myself. The decor is important to note because I used the brightly colored objects to help ground myself and while focusing on my breath, I named the various items and color. The rain and wind became my allies again as I was able to find the rhythm in the noise and after a bit, I was able to join the event.

The happiness hour consisted of meditation, chair yoga exercises, massages, healthy and visually appealing food and treats, and some fun schmoozing. This experience was enjoyable, informative, and dare I say, transformative. The meditation which included a body scan and then transitioned into chair yoga allowed me to really check in with my body and helped me notice where I was feeling tension. The massage minutes later would further confirm that I can’t afford to let this kind of self-care go.

I left the massage room feeling like putty and was told that I was radiating bliss. I actually had difficulty formulating sentences for about 20 minutes because I was so relaxed. This experience made me take a hard look at how I am truly spending my time that I let myself get to the point of no time for self-care?

Prior to the birth of my son, I was involved with both group meditation and yoga pretty frequently. In fact, those two activities made my transition from sitting in and observing to co-facilitating dbt groups quite natural. I realized that it has been years since I have been part of group meditation and weekly yoga and while I practice some self-care, these two activities that settle my anxiety have fallen to the wayside.

I think it’s easy to see how by just looking at my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, to-do lists and this was a gentle reminder of how these activities truly serve to benefit my mind and body. Later that night I recommitted to someway somehow getting back into both yoga and meditation as part of my routine because as it turns out, I need to practice more what I preach. I am so grateful to have been part of this event that helped me unwind and put my own self-care into perspective.


By Jenny Bell Martin, MS, Director of Volunteer and Career Services at OPI