Portable DBT Skill For Distress Tolerance

If you're not aware of how the simple act of holding ice can be an easy, powerful way to help keep you safe from things like self-harming when in distress, click here to read, "Controlling Impulses by Starting Small: DBT Ice Cube Exercise," then read on.

Yesterday I was inspired when a tweeter said she asked a waitress for a zip lock baggie of ice. She wanted to use the ice to help with distress she was experiencing.

Today I was preparing for some inevitable distress.  I had to take a loved one to the airport. I will miss her greatly while she is away for the next few weeks. Because I know I become emotionally dysregulated when I see her off on her trips, I knew I needed to plan with distress tolerance skills.

Bringing ice cubes with me to the airport wasn't really any option.  Instead, I chilled a bottle of water until it was nearly frozen.  I carried it around in my bag, and in moments of great distress and anxiety, I held it.  The intense cold sensation really helped to ground me and take my mind off of the distressing situation, even if only for a moment here and there.

Next time you have to go to something stressful, be it a doctor's appointment, seeing a loved one off at the airport, grocery shopping -- whatever it is, consider freezing or chilling in the refrigerator a bottle of water and then taking it with you to use for this DBT exercise.  When you feel better, you can drink it and stay hydrated, which is also a healthy choice. :)

Today I can check off the following skills on my DBT Diary Card (click to get a free, printable one for yourself):

  • Distract/Distress Tolerance
  • Build Mastery -- I'm learning Spanish, and I put together the sentence, "La botella de agua está fría,"  meaning "The bottle of water is cold," as I practiced this skill. I hope I got this right. :)

Have you ever used the DBT Ice Cube skill before?  Might you try the water bottle idea? What works for you when you are in distress?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. today I was worst physical pain left leg it hurt to walk stand step up as I a bit away from home I started singing out loud as many songs I could think of church songs good old camp songs verses from the bible it helped a lot still was in major pain but I was slightly distracted by me singing goofy songs and it worked awsome dbt skills

  2. I'm a very tactile person and I love anything soft, it's very soothing! So I made myself a teeny tiny security blanket! It pretty much looks like a single piece from a quilt. One side has a pretty blue fabric with sea horses on it, and the other side has super soft fleecy blanket material. I just sewed the two together in a little 4" square. Then I can just shove it in my pocket and touch it when a feel stress coming on. No one even notices, it just looks like I have my hand in my pocket, but I'm able to feel the warmth and softness and feel soothed.