Mental Health, | 08.26.22
Urge Surfing is a Distress Tolerance Skill that was developed as a means for someone to recognize the physical and emotional sensations accompanying an urge, but not judge or act upon them. Cravings/urges are common. By surfing them, you can get to a point where they will pass. Instead of fighting the urge, visualize yourself on a surfboard riding the urge. Try to notice what you are feeling with the rise and fall of the waves. Urges rise just like waves. As an urge rises, it gets more intense and feels like it won’t go away unless you give into it. If you give into it every single time, your brain will make a connection thinking that’s the only way to deal with it. By practicing Urge Surfing, you can get the urge to pass without giving in.
One suggestion to break down the urge is to do it in 5 minute intervals. Set a timer for 5 minutes. When that timer goes off, reassess your urge. Reset the timer for another 5 minutes and keep resetting as long as needed.
If you want to keep busy while the urge passes, many of the DBT skills will work. Anything that can distract and/or relax you would help.
One of the most effective skills is the Ice Pack Skill. An ice pack on the back of your neck will help calm the Parasympathetic Nervous System. An overstimulated Parasympathetic Nervous System can lead to anxiety, restlessness and panic.
Some other distracting skills include music, reading, taking a walk, engaging in a hobby like a jigsaw puzzle.
Here are 5 techniques to help ride the wave:
1. Identify the physical sensation.
Pinpoint what part of your body is feeling the urge the most. Is it your stomach? Your chest? Your jaw? You can usually figure this out by sitting with your eyes closed for a few minutes/
2. Focus on the sensations.
Now that you know which body part is feeling it, you can explore it. Do you feel dizzy? Are you having pain there? Is it anxiety?
3. Notice your breathing.
Be mindful of your breaths for a few minutes. Inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
4. Refocus on your body.
Now visualize how each breath makes the urge feel less heavy. You can imagine fresh air while inhaling and then exhale any impurities in the air. Pay attention to how this makes you feel.
5. Stay curious and present.
If you lose focus while actually surfing, you will fall into the water. Do your best to stay focused here so you can ride out this wave.
Remember this, urges are temporary and fighting them takes practice. We must retrain our brains on how to deal with them.
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