Module 4: Managing Emotions When Under Pressure
The aim of Module 4 of the Parents Under Pressure program is to
teach and encourage the use of emotional regulation, positive
thinking, and self-soothing skills.
A fundamental assumption of the PuP program is that the pressures parents face in their day-to-day lives impact on their ability to be effective in the parenting role. This module provides information on a range of strategies that help parents cope more effectively under pressure.
These strategies are aimed at helping a parent either shift their immediate mood state or to develop a tolerance for an aversive mood state. Whilst a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model influences this to some extent (the program includes techniques such as relaxation training using muscular relaxation training, use of imagery, and other self-soothing activities) there is an emphasis on mindfulness- based strategies.
Mindfulness skills aim to help parents let go of any preoccupation with the worries of everyday life, at least for short periods of time. This mindfulness skill of refocussing the mind on the present moment and letting go of negative thoughts can, at times, help a person to shift from a severely negative mood state or feeling of anxiety, to one that is less overwhelming.
An important first step in emotional regulation is to recognise one's emotional state. A negative emotional mood state should be a signal to take some active steps to alter one's current emotional state. Therefore the module starts with exercises on recognising emotional states.
Promoting a healthy diet and regular physical exercise is an important factor in enhancing emotional well-being more generally.
It is not realistic to promote a positive mood state when a person is under considerable and real stress. When this is the case, it is necessary to consider techniques that might minimise the distress associated with that situation. Distress tolerance skills are an important skill for parents to use when under pressure.
Linehan, M. M. (1993). Skills training manual for treating borderline personality disorder. New York, NY: Guilford Press.