4D Reduce Emotional Vulnerability

This page talks about the DBT ‘reducing emotional vulnerability’ skills for ‘emotion regulation’.

These skills are really important in helping you to balance and manage your emotions, by focusing on two key things:

  • reducing your exposure to negative emotions
  • increasing your exposure to positive emotions

by doing the following:

Reducing your exposure to negative emotions

This is about things we can do in our everyday life that can really help reduce the negative emotions we experience.  ‘PLEASE Master’ is the common acronym used to help people remember this skill; it’s about you:


taking care of our physicahealth and treating pain and/or illness


eating a balanced diet and not having too much sugar, fat and caffeine


avoiding alcohol and drugs, which can make difficult emotions worse


getting enough sleep on a regular basis


getting regular exercise


doing daily activities that build confidence and competency

These suggestions might seem straightforward, but with anything new it can take time to adjust, and planning is really important to their success; planning makes them much more likely to happen on a daily basis, so that they soon become part of your everyday routine.  For example:

  • make time to visit the doctor if you need to
  • buy the right food and drinks in, so that you have healthier choices at mealtime
  • do things which you enjoy and make you feel good; see examples below
  • avoid drugs and alcohol, which can make you feel good in the short-term but in the longer term can get in the way of you achieving your goals.
  • organise your evening so that you manage to go to bed at a reasonable time; and set an alarm clock if you need to be up early.  Listen to our chillax podcast to help calm your mind and relax at bedtime.
  • make time for exercise in your day, even if it’s just to walk to college instead of getting the bus

Increasing your exposure to positive emotions

This is the second skill to help reduce emotional vulnerability.  It’s about building more positive experiences in our life, so that we can experience more positive emotions, which can provide a helpful balance to our negative emotions and give us the strength to get through life’s difficult moments.

Again, this is a simple idea, but planning is important.  This skill is about setting yourself the challenge of planning one or more activities into your day, which you will enjoy and you can look forward to.  This can be pretty much anything that you think you might enjoy, but the key is to not ‘just do’ the activity, but to ‘mindfully participate’ in it; noticing what you are doing with all of your awareness, will increase your satisfaction of the experience and in turn the positive emotions it will evoke.

It could be:

a hobby

reading a book

watching a film

listening to music

visiting a friend or family

going shopping

doing a sport

going for a walk

riding a bike

drawing a picture


With this skill, you are encouraged to:

  • increase the positive activities you experience in the short-term
  • set yourself goals for the long-term, such as learning a new skill (maybe a new language or an instrument) or taking up a new hobby (such as painting or fishing); so that you are making changes in your life which mean you can experience positive events more often.

My 4D Toolkit Activity

Don’t leave it to chance, plan to have a fantastic week by ‘planning’ your fantastic week.

This simple activity planning sheet can make a big difference in how your week maps out. It’s all too easy to find ourselves in a rut that seems to go on and on, but by making sure we have interesting things lined up, we can break negative patterns and start a fresh again and again.

4D week download button


Related Pages: Emotion Regulation, Understanding emotions, Decrease emotional suffering

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