Tolerance for Uncertainty workbook: Improving Distress

Stress is caused by being “here” and wanting to be “there”, writes Eckhart Tolle.

Show of hands for anyone experiencing this, these holidays? (If you’re not and you’re making merry, I wish you well. Close this page and go and embrace the ones you love. You can come back to this post at any time, should you need it. If however you are finding this festive season a little hair-triggery, you are not alone. It’s a tough time of year, amplified by the general toughness of the year itself. Be kind with yourself. You’re doing the best you can. None of us have ever Christmased during a global pandemic before. It’s okay not to know exactly how to do this, or to be frustrated that it’s not going as smoothly as you would like. Or to wish you were somewhere else.)

In chapter 4 of the Tolerance for Uncertainty workbook, Dr Sachiko Nagasawa writes that “accepting and improving distress are quite different approaches, and maintaining a balance between acceptance and improvement is the key to fostering distress tolerance. The main goal for this workbook is to allow you to learn to accept the strong emotions you are currently experiencing, and with that in mind, then work on improving your emotional experience.

Basically, you need to feel the emotion first, accept it, ride through it, and then take action to improve it.

If you are particularly stressed, then give yourself permission to shelve the acceptance strategies from chapter 3, and focus on improving your distress.”

Because it’s okay to say, right now, feeling it, is too much for me.

That’s why radical acceptance is so radical. It is hard.

You can click back on past posts:

 1. understanding emotional distress 

2. regulating my emotions, 

3. radical acceptance,

to learn about these concepts, or download the workbook for yourself here: https://www.baypsychology.ca/workshops)

Finding small ways to be active or to self-sooth when you are feeling distressed is essential for improving your emotional experience.

What’s in your self-soothing bag of tricks? What might you add, to help your kids, if they need a little care and tending, or some direction, to help soothe themselves? My friend has discovered that sudoku puzzles allow a calm and focus that’s really helpful. I’m a fan of jigsaw puzzles. Also, if possible, walking in the woods while listening to a podcast. Lighting candles can be a lovely way to cue a sense of calm. I have a friend who definitely washes dishes therapeutically. I always feel grateful I’m no longer living in Australia when I jump in the shower and drain the hot water tank dry. Dance party is nice. Sometimes, I find, if I play a song I’ve been enjoying, but try and transcribe the lyrics, the stop/start/stop/start helps me focus on just that, and everything else falls away. Sometimes, wrapping a blanket around your shoulders can give you the feeling of being held, that provides a sense of being soothed, that is real. A cup of tea can help. So, too, can lying facedown on the Earth somewhere. (For real. It’s called Earth-docking. It’s a legit energy medicine technique.)

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash



What helps you?

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