Monday, July 27, 2009

Summertime Distress Tolerance

After a month of so much rain and cool temperatures that I thought I might start to rust, it's finally become more seasonable in New England. That means hot and humid weather. I fled my under-air conditioned home to look for a cooler spot.

I went to Target looking for a few electronic items and started to wander around looking at end caps. It became more interesting for me to wander around looking at people who were wandering around looking at the end caps for bargains. I got to thinking that this is a great summertime distress tolerance activity.

Distress tolerance, simply put, is any activity that can help someone get through a crappy experience or sensation without making the situation worse. Any tool that is healthy and non-destructive that helps distract from an unpleasant, intolerable, or not resolvable in-the-moment situation is a distress tolerance skill.

Target keeps the air conditioner on full blast, so it was nice and cool. Maneuvering a cart with one hand, holding a diet Pepsi in the other, I roamed the ends of the aisles totally absorbed in looking for interesting items--or people.

What a great way to lose track of time, distract from unpleasant situation, and make a positive non-destructive choice? A perfect distress tolerance skill.

Distress tolerance skills don't solve the problem--they just help us tolerate the problem until the crisis passes or until we can get into a space where we can make more effective choices.

As I come across interesting, unusual, or particularly effective distress tolerance skills I'm going to post them on this blog. I'll label the posts "distress tolerance" so they can be easy to find.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Welcome to the Irreverent Psychologist. Over time, I'm hoping this will become a helpful resource detailing useful facts about therapy, psychology, and life in general. I'm also going to occasional write about tools to use for coping, distress tolerance, and enhancing your life.

Hang in there with me while I'm feeling out Blogger and finding a way to make this a useful place.

Who knows, maybe I'll get on a roll and figure out a way to make Twitter and Facebook useful too. Have any ideas?