woman practicing please skills dbt

What is the PLEASE Skill and How Can It Help?

In Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), PLEASE is an acronym to help people remember a set of skills that can make emotional regulation easier. The idea behind the PLEASE skill is to take care of your basic needs so that you can make healthier decisions and be less vulnerable to emotional disruptions.

Although the PLEASE skill was developed as an important part of DBT, you do not need to be in DBT to benefit from this skill. If you struggle to regulate your emotions, you can improve your life by learning what each letter in PLEASE stands for and using this skill in your daily life.

(Note: the advice and information that follows is meant for general purposes. You should not make any changes to your diet, exercise routine, or medications without first consulting your primary care provider or another medical professional.)

PL: Treat Physical Illness

Research continues to demonstrate a strong link between physical and mental health. If you are physically ill in any way, it can make emotional regulation and decision making much more difficult. By taking care of your body, you take care of your mind as well.

Taking care of physical illness can be as simple as remembering to take your prescribed medications every day. On the other hand, it may require visiting a doctor to discuss symptoms you’ve experienced and getting tests done. While this may sound difficult at first, treating any underlying physical illness is likely to pay off for your mental health as well.

E: Balance Your Eating

Unfortunately, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression can make it difficult for people to eat healthy meals on a regular basis. As difficult as it may be, eating a balanced diet is an important part of the PLEASE skill. When you give your body the nourishment it needs, you are better able to cope and regulate.

Eating a balanced diet does not necessarily mean going on a stringent diet plan or anything drastic. Instead, you can start with small steps. For example, you may start by getting a multivitamin, adding one more serving of fruit to your day, or making one healthy swap in your routine. You can continue making small changes until you have a well-balanced diet.

A: Avoid Mind-Altering Substances

It’s important for anyone living with a mental health disorder to avoid using mind-altering substances unless a doctor prescribes them. These substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Medications prescribed to other people
  • Illegal drugs

Mind-altering substances can keep you from being able to use coping mechanisms effectively. If you need help ceasing the use of any substances, LifeStance Health can help.

S: Get Enough Sleep

An unhealthy sleep cycle can throw your physical health off-balance. While many people get too little sleep, some people with disorders like depression can get too much sleep. It’s important to find a healthy balance to give your mind the best chance at emotional regulation.

Following some basic sleep hygiene guidelines can help:

  • Avoid screens for at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Get some exposure to daylight during waking hours
  • Optimize your bedroom for restful sleep
  • Limit naps to 30 minutes

Some of the other behaviors in the PLEASE skill can help you get better sleep too. For example, avoiding caffeine and nicotine can improve your sleep quality. The next skill can help as well.

E: Get Regular Exercise

The mental and physical health benefits of getting regular exercise are backed by decades of research. It can help treat underlying physical illnesses, regulate sleep patterns, and improve emotions.

Getting enough exercise looks different for everyone. For some people, running marathons or lifting heavy weights are ideal. For others, playing outside with their kids in plenty. If you haven’t exercised in a while, going for a walk each day may be enough for you to see profound benefits. Everyone should be sure to consult a doctor before changing their exercise regiments.

The PLEASE skill is a simple but vital reminder to take care of your physical health, which leaves you in a better position to tackle mental health challenges. To learn more about the PLEASE skill, consider starting DBT with one of our licensed therapists.