Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Distress

During moments of distress, people often default to a mode of reacting, rather than responding.

And while that’s hardwired into our biological makeup, what if there was a way to counteract it?

What if we could help people regain control of runaway emotions and maintain composure in a crisis?

In the short video below, Marsha Linehan, PhD, creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) suggests two techniques for tolerating distress in order to move beyond it . . .

. . . and one of them might surprise you.

Check it out, it’s just 3 minutes.

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Has mindfulness ever helped you or one of your clients regulate emotions during distress? Please share your experience in the comment section below.


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  1. London says:

    I have been having some really frustrating triggers and experiencing trauma amplification to disabling proportions of late. I have recently felt these things and resisted my worst crisis physical patterns however did not understand the tools I had used so eventually reverted to a milder form of crisis behavior.
    I now posses two very important tools I can use to attempt to put an immediate stop to escalating thoughts.
    I am eternally appreciative of the content you have shared with us all, I’m certain this will help many more.
    This is of priceless value to me because You have given me hope in self love in abundance

    Thank You Thank You Thank You!

  2. Raj Ghai says:

    Very very effective. Only to be done in calm surroundings

  3. Marion Yoga Instructor says:


    This paced-breathing is exactly the same as what I learned as anti-anxiety breath.
    It’s a yoga breath technique that helps to bring the person into the present by inducing more of the relaxation response. As well, abdominal breath is probably the same as Diaphragmatic breathing,
    which is considered to be a foundational breath practice in hatha yoga.

    One of the benefits of yoga is to enlist the para sympathetic side of the nervous system i.e. the rest and recovery aspect and to lower the effect of the sympathetic nervous system i.e. the fight or flight responses when that is not needed.

    These simple techniques are well known yoga practices. They are very calming. Once calm, of course it is easier to think more clearly and then respond instead of react.
    This talk on “paced” breathing etc. re-affirms the benefits of yoga practices for dealing with stress and trauma.

    Well… well… back to actual practice.

  4. Eiizabeth Memel, MA, RIE Associate, infant developmentalist, Los Angeles, CA says:

    Perhaps one big reason why self-regulated emotional expression eludes people is because as babies and toddlers we were not given freedom to feel our true self and grow emotional intelligence. It was too scary for our conflicted parents. Rocked and fed (when not hungry), or tickled and toyed with, the distractions abounded because the adults caring for us could not/did not want us to feel discomfort; this despite the fact that infancy is fraught with pain and struggle. We were seen as incomplete beings, not yet ready for full capacity living, so over-protection and denial kept us unable to understand who were truly were in relationship to others who were supposed to show up by mirroring our right brain neurons trying to connect.
    Babies are “unique little individuals” as seen and known by my teacher, Magda Gerber, who taught an approach that sees “infants and young children as equal members in relationships, honoring the natural integrity of infants and the formative power of relationships in their lives.”

  5. Pam Furno says:

    Hi; I wrote to you earlier last year about a series of events that have led me to be stuck in trauma; I have watched the many tapes and cannot apply them to my situation but this one in particular seems doable; breathing and distraction. THANK YOU FOR SENDING THIS. Something I can do!

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