New York & Distress Tolerance...Navigating A Tough City with Mindfulness & DBT

New York City is one of the toughest cities to live in: if you want to live here for the long haul, it’s important that you develop strong levels of distress tolerance. There will always be external stimuli threatening to overwhelm you, whether it is a car honking, music blaring, or people rushing around you and often bumping into you. Are you familiar with experiencing all of these stimuli at the same time? Welcome to NYC!

There are many different approaches that can help you deal with this stress and a cacophony of stimuli, such as going on walks, working out, and participating in therapy to improve your calm under pressure. Two other helpful forms of stress management that can help you improve your mental health in the big city are Mindfulness and DBT therapy.

Mindfulness for Stress Management in NYC

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy is another approach to psychotherapy that marries techniques drawn from cognitive therapy, meditation and the creation of mindfulness, which is a “non-judgmental attitude that is rooted in the present time.”

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works by encouraging you to interrupt your instinctual thought processes that may be exacerbating your mental struggles. Instead, those who practice mindfulness based cognitive therapy are encouraged to work through their feelings in healthier ways; this practice also urges you to observe and identify feelings that you are currently experiencing. 

10 ways that you can improve your mindfulness amidst a busy New York lifestyle include:

  1. Yoga: Practice various yoga poses that help orchestrate mindful stretching.
  2. Meditation: Engage in self directed or guided meditation exercises, which can help you become more aware of your thoughts, breathing, and body.
  3. Body scanning exercises: Lie down and become aware of different parts of your body, typically starting at your toes and working upwards until you reach the apex of your head.
  4. Mindfulness stretching: This technique asks you to stretch mindfully, raising your awareness of both your mind and body.
  5. Eating mindfully: Eating meals without distractions, such as reading a book or watching TV, can help you better appreciate the mental and physical nourishment food provides.
  6. Spending time in nature: Being outdoors does wonders for your body and mind; it can also help ground you in the present.
  7. Keeping track of how much time you spend using electronics: It is easy to experience information overload from the amount of media available at our fingertips; setting limits on your screen time–especially around bedtime–can help you feel more rooted and at peace. 
  8. Focusing on one thing at a time: Tackling one task at a time and allowing yourself breaks in between is important.
  9. Slowing down: If you savor the process of the task you are completing, it will encourage you to provide it with thoughtful and deliberate attention; this, in turn, will promote healthy focus practices and may prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.
  10. Moving around: Any type of body movement can help, especially if you make sure you stay aware of your body’s sensations in doing so. 

DBT for Stress Management in NYC

Another way that you can seek help is by looking into dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is a modified version of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The primary goals of DBT are to:

  • Improve individuals’ relationships with other people
  • Regulate emotions
  • Teach people how to live in the present moment
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms

While DBT was originally developed to help treat borderline personality disorder BPD in the ‘80s, it has since been adapted in order to help a broad spectrum of other mental health issues, including (but not limited to) substance abuse, disordered eating, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

DBT also works to help cultivate healthy distress tolerance skills that are geared to help individuals accept themselves and their current situation. These techniques can prepare individuals for intense emotional surges, as well as equip them to cope by using positive, long-term perspectives. 

Some DBT techniques for this type of “crisis management” include:

  • Self-soothing practices
  • Improving the moment
  • Distraction
  • Considering the pros and cons of not handling distress well

DBT can be taught via individual or group therapy settings, but is arguably more successful when practiced in a group context over time. One of the reasons group therapy can be the perfect place to practice your DBT skills is that this environment offers a safe, therapist-led community without judgment or fear of making mistakes. Instead, you can participate in role-play sessions led by your therapist to work on improving your emotional regulation and distress tolerance over time. Many NYC therapy groups (such as Grouport therapy) teach their clients DBT practices in order to help them navigate their day to day existence in this bustling city.

Here at Grouport, we offer DBT group therapy from the comfort of your own home, apartment or condo in NYC that is conducted completely online, through Zoom meetings. After you enroll in Grouport you’ll schedule a 20 minute onboarding session with one of our trained mental health professionals; they will get to know you a bit and, over the course of your session, discern which therapy group (such as a DBT group) is most suited to your needs. 

You can find answers to more FAQs about Grouport therapy in NYC here.

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