Distraction and Relaxation

In my previous post, DBT Freed Me, I mentioned having created distraction and relaxation plans.  There are many more ideas in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, which I’m using, but I thought I’d share my personal plans as a preview of what you might encounter in the book.


  1. Squeeze a stress ball.
  2. Recite the Fibonacci sequence.
  3. Remember happy memories in as much detail as possible.
  4. Hold ice cubes on wrists.
  5. Get out of the house and sit outside.
  6. Write thoughts in a journal.
  7. Listen to upbeat music and dance and/or sing along.
  8. Recycle old papers.
  9. Cook a new recipe.
  10. Help someone with a chore.


  1. Play with your pets.
  2. Run your hands through beans, sand, beads, shells, etc.
  3. Listen to a white noise machine.
  4. Turn on a soothing TV show and just listen.
  5. Burn scented candles or incense.
  6. Eat your favorite meal slowly.
  7. Create a Pinterest board full of inspiring images.
  8. Cook food that has a pleasing smell.
  9. Try a new food.
  10. Go through magazines and books to cut out pictures for a collage.


  1. Carry gum or hard candy to eat when upset.
  2. Suck on an ice cube or ice pop.
  3. Carry something soft or velvety to touch.
  4. Rub a worry stone.
  5. Wear scented oils that make you feel happy.
  6. Listen to saved voicemails from family and friends.
  7. Listen to soothing music.
  8. Take a photograph of something beautiful.
  9. Make collages on index cards to keep in your purse or wallet.
  10. Go someplace where the scent is pleasing to you.


One of the relaxation exercises asks you to choose a place, either real or imaginary, that makes you feel safe and comfortable.  At peace, in my words.  Then you are to review the details of that place using all of your senses.  My place is Virginia Beach.  I see the sun rising, the surfers out at dawn.  I hear the waves crashing on the shore, the seagulls vocalizing.  I smell the salty ocean water, the popcorn stand just down the boardwalk.  I feel the temperate breeze, the sand squishing between my toes.  I taste the salt water taffy, the cinnamon bears from a nearby candy shop.