Another option available to us when in distress is to Improve the Moment. Is there something that can be done to make the situation tolerable or better? Is there that small “silver lining” that can be noted? Just like with distraction, this can be remembered using an acronym – IMPROVE.
(I)magery – Play your movie. Come up with a relaxing place in your mind that you can go to. If it is inside, decorate it to your liking, if it is outside, surround it with what makes you feel relaxed. Close your eyes and see yourself going there. Have a dialog in your mind – anything goes, it is your world, your movie. I love park benches and my place is generally in front of a pond with oak trees and many mallard ducks.
(M)eaning – Have a mantra. Find something good in the pain. A dear friend of mine would tell me to use the pain to find my power to grow from it. Sayings, quotes, verses, and other lines are great to have as personal reminders of your inner strength. Repeat them. Make the best out of the situation.
(P)rayer – If you have belief in a Higher Power, ask them for strength and help. Faith and hope can be powerful tools, especially to help you know you are not alone in the situation. Taking a moment to stop and call upon your Higher Power can help you move closer to wise mind in your actions.
(R)elaxation – Choose a relaxing activity. You can’t be tense and anxious and relax at the same time. Paired muscle relaxation from the TIPP skills can be useful. Listening to calming music, taking a hot bath, or a massage can be options. Take deep breaths and do something calming.
(O)ne thing in the moment – Be mindful of what is going on right at this moment. Bring your focus to one thing that is going on. If you are in distress, it is likely that your mind is racing and possibly having several different thoughts. Using your senses, concentrate on one thing you are doing, feeling, smelling, hearing, or seeing at the moment. Give it your full attention. Practice your observe and describe skills.
(V)acation – “Get away” from things. Take a little nap. Rent a movie and hide out in your room. If needed, lock yourself in the bathroom. Give yourself permission to take time off from life. Go on a weekend getaway or pamper yourself at home for a day or two. Have breakfast in bed. Even if you can only do one hour, just give yourself a break from your normal routine and have some fun.
(E)ncouragement – Be your own cheerleader. Yes, I know this is probably hard, it is still hard for me, and it is a good thing to work at. Write yourself positive notes and tape them around your house. Put uplifting quotes in your office. Use white-board markers and leave positive statements on your bathroom mirror. Even if you don’t believe them, keep reading them.