Want to change your behaviour around alcohol? Try the DBT rule.
If you find yourself responding to emotions or tension with the need to drink, then I want you to try this – the DBT rule. I just made it up and it works for me. The D is for Distraction. I watched the announcement by our Prime Minister about the fact that we’re going to stay in lock down for another week, and then we’re going to move to level 3 here in New Zealand.
Now, for me, that’s made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I’ve got some tension and stress, particularly around the business side of things. And the first thing I wanted to do, if I’m really honest, is reach for a big glass of wine, and just numb the pain. Or not so much the pain, it’s just that uncomfortable feeling. I want to put it off. I don’t want to have to deal with it. The D in the DBT rule stands for distract yourself.
As humans we often think that we have to be happy and motivated and engaged all the time. But that’s crap. Nobody is. To live a normal human life, we have ups and we have downs in terms of our emotions.
So I did. I got on my exercise gear and I went for a run. Sometimes that’s enough and sometimes it’s not. So the next step in the DBT rule is Breathe. Just breathe, five deep breaths. Breathing in for about the count of five and out for about the count of seven. Just breathe. We know that when we breathe, we turn on our baroreflex, and we get the prefrontal cortex – the rational part of our brain – back in control and we take it away from the amygdala – the drama queen.
The T is Time yourself for 5 minutes, and sit with the uncomfortable feeling. Sit with that feeling that you’re wanting to numb with either drinking the alcohol or eating the crap food.
Because I think as humans we often think that we have to be happy and motivated and engaged all the time. But that’s crap. Nobody is. To live a normal human life, we have ups and we have downs in terms of our emotions, and we don’t always need to numb the pain or stop those uncomfortable feelings.
The DBT rule:
D – distract yourself, often exercise helps,
B – just breathe five deep breaths,
T – time yourself for five minutes and sit with the feeling, the uncomfortableness.
If you do all of that and you still feel like you want to drink the big glass of wine or eat the whole packet of TimTams, then sure, do that, but do it in a more mindful state. I promise you that 9 times out of 10, by the time you get to the end of the five minutes of the DBT rule, you won’t be feeling like doing that.