8 Helpful Tips for Dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder

It can be confusing to decide which way to go when you have an intense emotion. It would be even harder to control your emotions when you have borderline personality disorder (BPD). The most common symptoms of BPD are self-harming behaviors, erratic mood shifts, intense emotional experiences, suicidal thoughts, and problems with impulsive behaviors.

All these issues are related to emotion dysregulation, which is the reason why you are going to have strong emotional responses to different events. Dealing with borderline personality disorder is never easy, but you can take steps to make things more manageable.

How to Deal with Borderline Personality Disorder

It is quite common for people with borderline personality disorder to engage in unhealthy activities. They develop different behavioral habits to cope with emotional pain – they may resort to self-harm, violence, and substance abuse. You need to understand that you have a medical problem and you need work with a professional to cope with the symptoms of BPD. Here are a few tips to help you reduce emotion dysregulation:

1. Enjoy Some Music

You can use music sensibly to change your emotions. You have to select what may help create an emotion that is complete opposite of how you are feeling at a particular time. It means that if you are feeling sad, you may play upbeat music. In case you are feeling anxious, try listening to slow, relaxing music to feel better.

2. Keep Yourself Busy

One of the most important skills to develop when dealing with borderline personality disorder is to keep yourself busy. Do not surrender to the emotion you are having. Instead, go for a highly engaging activity, such as dancing, walking, or something that distracts you from how you are feeling now. Keep in mind that watching TV or spending time on computer is never engaging enough. Look for something else.

3. Do Not React Quickly

You need to develop a habit of taking some time before reacting to any situation. In most cases, those self-harming thoughts would pass in a few minutes. It means that you need to wait until the peak of those strong emotional reactions is passed. Simply get an egg timer from the kitchen and set it for 15 minutes. This will help you ride out the emotion.

4. Practice Mindfulness

The idea is to experience the emotion without trying to block it. Be mindful about what you are feeling. Do not suppress your emotion; instead, accept it for what it is and learn to move on.

5. Stay Grounded All the Time

Do not let your current emotion put you in a position where your previous emotions also start affecting your mind and take better of you. Stay grounded to avoid feeling 'zoned out', and you can do it by doing simple things like grabbing an ice cube in your hand. Sometimes, snapping a rubber band against your hand would also help you get out of the vicious circle of negative thoughts.

6. Practice Deep Breathing

Controlling your breathing pattern will always help make things easier. Deep breathing relaxes your mind and helps you stay in control of things, making it one of the best tips for dealing with borderline personality disorder. Find a quiet place and take slow, deep breaths. Focus only on your breathing and feel your stomach rising and falling while you breathe. You can also try other relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation.

7. Take a Warm Bath

When you are not feeling great and emotionally very week, a good way to relax your body is to take a warm bath. The sensations of the warm water will help divert your attention and relax your muscles as well. Using some essential oils would also help make your baths even more relaxing and beneficial.

8. Use the Help of a Therapist

Even after trying certain things, you may still have to work with a therapist who explains the best ways of dealing with borderline personality disorder. Your therapist would use different therapies to make it easier for you to control your emotions.

  • A popular option is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which has a good success record and helps you learn how to regulate your emotions. The therapy also teaches you mindfulness skills and explains how to develop frustration tolerance, identify your emotions, and strengthen your psychosocial skills.
  • Schema-Focused therapy is another option your therapist may use. This treatment approach is actually a mix of cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapy approaches. The therapy helps restructure your perceptions to help you have a stable self-image. Your therapist will work with you directly to help produce desired results.

While there are therapies and techniques available to help you with your disorder, you need to describe your emotions in full detail to help your therapist determine the best treatment approach for you.

For this, you will have to learn about your emotions and know how to identify your physical and emotional feelings. It is not enough to tell your therapist that you feel a sinking in the pit of your stomach when you are dealing with certain situations, but you should be able to pinpoint exactly what triggers that feeling. This feeling could be related to anxiety or nervousness, and if you know that, it would be easier to bring things under control.

Another important thing is to work with your therapist and learn how you make and follow a set schedule. You are less likely to feel stressed when you schedule for things like sleep and meal times. Sleep deprivation and fluctuations in blood sugar levels can directly affect your emotional wellbeing. 

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