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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills for Mental Health - PLEASE

This is an overview of the 'PLEASE' skill from Dr. Marsha Linehan's dialectical behavioral therapy. Read on.
Janna Seliger Jul 27, 2020
Marsha Linehan's dialectical behavioral therapy, while designed for borderline personality disorder patients, is filled with skills that can be used by anyone, whether they're mentally ill or not.
These skills help to keep our minds sharp, our relationships stable, and our minds at peace. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental illness or an overabundance of stress, you might find the following skill to be helpful to bring balance back into your life.
Linehan is famous for her acronyms, and this particular one, PLEASE, is one of the first that DBT patients learn in the Emotion Regulation module of the therapy.

PLEASE stands for.
Treat PhysicaL Illness
Balance Eating
Avoid mood-Altering drugs
Balance Sleep
Get Exercise
These concepts may seem simple enough, but it's astonishing how many people don't follow these rules. Let's go into further detail, so that you can better understand what Linehan means by each phrase.

Treat Physical Illness

To put it simply, she is saying that if you are sick, get some rest. If you find it necessary, see your doctor. Curing your physical ails is the first step one has to take to recover one's mental health. The mind-body connection that many people talk about is a scientific fact―if your body feels bad, your mind will feel bad. The same goes for the opposite.

Balance Eating

What we eat is important when it comes to mental health. Foods can affect the way we feel by raising or lowering levels of various neurotransmitters in our brains. Carbohydrates, for example, raise levels of serotonin.
Simple carbohydrates, however, will cause that serotonin to crash soon after consumption, while complex carbs (whole grains) will not. Linehan is not telling you to lose 50 lbs, she's simply saying that you should follow a balanced diet, and avoid too many sweets and caffeine.

Avoid Mood-altering Drugs

This is easy enough―don't drink and don't do drugs. Alcohol can be especially dangerous for the mentally ill, as it is a depressant. It can negate the effects of any medication you might be taking as well. This rule should apply to everyone, however, not only the mentally ill. A glass of wine here and there is okay, but avoid drinking much more than that.

Balanced Sleep

Again, the mind-body connection is important, and here Linehan is telling us that if our body is tired, our minds aren't going to feel very good either. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night is essential to good health. Getting any less or any more than that can be detrimental to your physical and emotional well-being.

Get Exercise

We all know about the 'runner's high'. It's based on scientific research―exercise makes you feel good. The endorphin rush you get from exercise can literally become addictive. As long as you aren't overdoing it, this can be a healthy addiction.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day is also essential for optimal mental and physical health. You will feel better about your body and better about yourself if you can keep up a daily workout routine.
If we implement PLEASE into our everyday lives, we'll find that our stress levels will decrease, happiness will increase, and we will become more emotionally stable. Many DBT patients are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which is also known as emotion dysregulation disorder.
They have a difficult time handling their intense emotions. Using the PLEASE skill, DBT patients of any diagnosis learn to stabilize their topsy-turvy emotional states through a daily routine of healthful living. Whether you suffer from mental illness or not, implementing PLEASE into your everyday life will make you a healthier, happier person.