Soothing Your Frazzled Nerves: DBT With a Cup of Tea



Will a cup of tea change fix your problems or change your life? Probably not. Can preparing a cup and enjoying it improve the moment and help soothe you when you're feeling distressed or dysregulated? Yes! (Though, if you're like me, and you're using tea to calm, you'll want to grab a decaffeinated variety.)

I have a friend who is very grounded and realistic. She is usually in what I would describe as Reasonable Mind. She's good with math and science and loves solving difficult problems.  She also suffers sometimes from anxiety and often from insomnia.  When I suggest little things like making a cup of tea, I'll hear, "What's the point? It's not going to fix my problem."  That's true, but you might feel a little better temporarily. Doesn't that make trying worth it?

Why self-soothe?  

Many of us with emotion dysregulation issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder did not receive enough soothing or we did not learn how to soothe ourselves in times of great distress. Our nervous systems may be more highly reactive. Even those who don't have such issues find comfort in soothing themselves, and it's a skill that we can learn as adults.

I just made myself a cup of Good Earth spicy tea to self-soothe.  It's one of my favorite ways to calm my nerves and be good to me. Yes, it's okay, and actually encouraged, that you be GOOD to yourself. (In my book Stop SabotagingI include an in-depth DBT tea practice. You'd be surprised how many steps are involved in this simple act and how mindfully you can go about it!)


Self-Soothing Skills are covered in the Distress Tolerance module of DBT. 

We can soothe our minds, nerves, and spirits through:


  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch

I actually get to experience all of these with this tea. I am soothed by the sight of steam coming off of my mug. I get a positive nostalgic feeling when my tea kettle whistles (it reminds me of my Nana, who passed away years ago -- she used to use a whistling kettle, too), the tea smells very fragrant with powerful notes of cinnamon and cloves. Taste is an obvious one, and I am comforted through touch by holding the warm mug in my hands.


Today I'll be able to check off Self-Soothing on my DBT Diary Card.


What have you done today to self-soothe?  What are some of your favorite ways to practice this skill?  Can you commit to doing something self-soothing before today is done?


Thanks for reading.
More soon.


2 comments:

  1. I have a hard time coming up with self soothing, and distraction, techniques that are helpful and that I "like" to do. A lot of them seem kinda out of date and lame, lol. Any ideas that seem a little less hokey and more helpful to a stressed out twenty-something?

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  2. Hi Brittany, thank you so much for your comment and question! You inspired my latest post "DBT: Distracting & Self-Soothing in a Modern World." I hope it helps! ♥

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