Biological factors, physical well-being, and emotional vulnerability

One of the DBT skills for regulating emotions is to make yourself less prone to negative emotions by taking care of biological factors. This is because biological factors influence mood! How would your emotions change if you were doing everything you could (biologically) could to take care of yourself? The point is that you may be able to get positive moods to stay around longer, be less impacted by negative emotions, or have more of a “buffer” or “thicker skin” when life stressors come along. Eating regularly, exercising, developing good sleeping habits, treating illness or pain, and avoiding mood altering drugs are the skills for reducing emotional vulnerability.

Consider this: Go back to the last incident in which you reacted strongly, did or said something you regret, or behaved in an extreme fashion. Can you identify any biological factors that may have been going on before that incident happened? For instance, did you skip breakfast or have overwhelming stressors prior to the incident? Was your sleep off? Was it extremely hot outside- and could this have impacted your mood? Were you feeling physically exhausted, ill, or had some other kind of pain? Did you feel burdened or maxed out in terms of your well-being? Did you have a headache at the time?

If this is the case for you, you may want to consider one thing you might be able to change. For instance, if you know you are going to have a stressful interaction with someone, can you make sure that you don’t do it on an empty stomach? Can you plan to get exercise before or after the interaction? Can you do anything to get a good night’s sleep the day before? Can you plan to have the interaction in an environment that isn’t noisy, stressful, hot, or intrusive? Can you do anything to make sure that you don’t have or get a headache or have other physical concerns going on prior to the interaction? Can you plan ahead to ensure that the interaction is time limited? Consider how emotional energy takes it toll on your body, and treat your body well.

Biological factors may not solve all the problems- but sometimes they can be overlooked. If you could do one small thing to address your physical well being (and help you survive your emotions), what would it be?