We all need a break from our thoughts from time to time. Sometimes we take breaks through excessive drinking, eating, drugging, gambling, or gaming.
While these activities give us a temporary break, they can also disconnect us from our emotions.
We Need a Break
It’s natural to want to turn it all off; to get out of our heads and into our bodies. We all want to forget about the past (even if it’s the day we just had) and stop worrying about the future. We don’t just want the break, we need the break.
Getting out of our head and into your body gives us a relief from daily stress and worry. When we are in our body, we are in the moment. When we are downing a gallon of ice cream or the third beer, we don’t think about the tough day we had or the bills we have to pay. We think about how good we feel, in this moment.
Healthy Ways to Get Out of Your Head
We can get out of our head and into our body in healthy ways; it just takes a little more effort. If you enjoy exercise, it can be a great way to get out of your head. If you don’t like exercise, rather than getting you out of your head, you get trapped inside repeating the mantra, “I hate this, when will it end?”
For those who don’t get lost in the moment with exercise, deep relaxation may be more to your liking. Fortunately, deep relaxation offers many of the health benefits of exercising while lying down. To each his own, but that’s the path I choose to walk.
Deep Relaxation Reduces Stress
Deep relaxation is a powerful antidote to painful and stressful emotions. Just twenty minutes a day has some of the same crucial benefits as exercise. It relieves muscle tension, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, lowers heart rate, and reduces depression and anxiety.
Deep relaxation is more than taking a moment to sit and relax (although that’s nice too). It involves using your breath and focused concentration to bring your body and mind into harmony.
DBT Skill: Deep Relaxation
There are several deep relaxation exercises that you can use to calm your mind and connect with your body; progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, deep breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis, and yoga.
I prefer self-hypnosis and meditation using YouTube videos. You will need to experiment with different techniques to find the one that works for you.
The important point is to find something that you find relaxing and enjoyable; something that takes you out of your head and into your body. Find something you can commit to doing regularly.
It’s Important to Practice
The first time you try a new technique, it’s common to feel restless and bored. That is why yoga and meditation are called “a practice.”
If you only try a strategy when stressed, your body won’t respond by relaxing. You might incorrectly assume the strategy doesn’t work.
In order for your body to find these techniques relaxing and enjoyable, practice when you are calm. Once you have positive experiences doing the activity, you will respond more favorably when you are under stress.
Below are links to some of my favorite relaxation YouTube videos. Try these, then experiment with other YouTube videos. Some people prefer to just listen to soothing music. The important thing is to reach a deep state of relaxation in which your thoughts are contained and controlled.
Relaxation YouTube Videos
You are a Calm, Relaxed Person
"In a Boat" Visualization
Acceptance of the Way Things Are
Letting Go of Things You Cannot Change
Listen to When Having Acute Anxiety
Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
To learn more about DBT skills, or if you are interested in counselling services, please visit Validity Counselling's homepage,
Author: Jenny DeReis
Jenny is CEO and therapist at Validity Counselling in Prince George, BC. She has a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Calgary.
Jenny has intensive and advanced training in DBT from Dr. Charlie Swansen, author of several books on DBT . She has also received DBT training from the Behavior Tech Institute, and from DBT expert Sherri Van Dijk.