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5 Things That Help Me Regulate My Emotions

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When I feel consumed by my emotions and feel the need for a solution to mellow out, I grab my toolkit. First, I heard about borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) toolkit on a borderline podcast. Weeks later, during DBT Skills Group, my instructor asked all of us to make one. I made mine from a pencil pouch I found at a discount store. I’ve also heard of people using makeup bags, zipper bags, and even larger ones they can keep at home, in boxes or laundry baskets. When thinking about what to include in your toolkit, they ask that you choose things that can soothe you during a crisis. Here are five of my favorites, but the options are endless!

1. Affirmation cards.

You see these cards everywhere. Online. Book stores. Metaphysical shops. Even a discount store—sometimes called Oracle cards—affirmation cards can give you a boost. When you try everything yet still feel consumed by your emotions, you’re experiencing emotional dysregulation or low confidence, pick-me-ups may be on the agenda. This quick pick-me-up technique gives you compliments and words of encouragement or support. People use them differently, but I shuffle my affirmation or Oracle cards and pull a random one that I feel drawn to. For example, it may say a quote such as, “I have a voice that matters” or “Know Your Power.” There are decks for sale that are small enough to keep in your to-go toolkit.

2. Essential oils.

Essential oils come in handy when people with borderline personality disorder feel an extremely negative emotion. Many different essential oils are known to decrease anxiety levels, lower feelings of depression, and produce a sense of calmness in the face of adversity. I like to use scents such as eucalyptus and lavender. A quick Google search will tell you what scents help with different ailments. They have small roll-on oils easily kept within a makeup bag or a pencil pouch. Side note: most essential oils smell good, too!

3. Notes from people who love you or like you.

I probably love this idea the most. When feeling optimistic, creating the toolkit, ask your loved ones what they like about you. You can ask them to write them down or write their responses down yourself. Either way, you now have something to remind you just how much you are liked and loved. This can help feelings of invalidation: remembering how you are validated. These notes remind you of how much you are really liked and loved.

4. Pictures of things that make you happy.

Here’s another important one: take photos of things or people that make you happy and shove those into the toolkit, too. By distracting yourself by remembering your fondness for an object or a person, you allow your brain to focus on something else. There are some examples heard over the years: pictures of your child, grandchild, best friend, beautiful scenery, your grandmother, flowers, or a favorite sports team. The list goes on and on.

5. Gum or hard candy.

When emotions begin to take over, practice the DBT skills self-soothe and distract. Chew on some of your favorite gum or favorite candy. This technique can get your mind thinking about other things. Why not enjoy a stick of gum or a small piece of candy? You’re soothing yourself by indulging and distracting yourself by enjoying it.

These are just a few things I included in my DBT toolkit, and I’m sure that you can come up with even more! Think about it; I encourage you to make your DBT toolkit to help regulate emotions. It’s all about making yourself feel better in a positive way.

Getty image by Oscar Wong

Originally published: August 30, 2022
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