DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities
Emotion Regulation

Emotion Regulation is the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy module that teaches how emotions work. It provides skills to help manage emotions instead of being managed by them, reduce vulnerability to negative emotions, and build positive emotional experiences.

DBT encourages you to build positive emotions in order to build your life worth living. It can be hard to come up with your own activities so here are quite a few to choose from. Choose one from the list to do each week, then build up to doing one each day. Even the littlest activities can create joy. And all those little joys add up.

Self-Soothing Technique

Some of us may recognize these techniques as things that we already use. But many of us have never learned how to self-soothe, how to do those often simple things that make us feel better.

These are mostly very physical techniques, that use different body senses. Some of us have never had the feeling that we could do things to make ourselves feel better, calmer, feel relaxation or pleasure.

I urge you to experiment with these techniques until you find some that are comfortable and helpful for you. And when you find these, practice them. Use them when you are feeling distressed, when emotions feel overwhelming, when situations feel like you can’t stand them any more. Instead of doing something that hurts you, try something that gives you pleasure and comfort.

SELF-SOOTHING has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. One way to think of this is to think of ways of soothing each of your five senses:

  • Soaking in the bathtub
  • Planning your career
  • Getting out of (paying on) debt
  • Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)
  • Going on vacation
  • Imagining the future
  • Recycling old items
  • Going on a date
  • Relaxing
  • Going to a movie
  • Jogging, walking
  • Listening to music
  • Recalling past pleasant moments
  • Buying household gadgets

Soak in the bathtub.

Go on a date.

  • Lying in the sun
  • Planning a career change
  • Laughing
  • Thinking about past vacations
  • Listening to others
  • Reading magazines or newspapers
  • Hobbies (stamp collecting, model building, etc.)
  • Spending an evening with good friends
  • Planning a day’s activities
  • Meeting new people
  • Viewing beautiful scenery
  • Saving money
  • Going home from work
  • Eating
  • Practicing karate, judo, yoga
  • Thinking about retirement
  • Repairing things around the house
  • Working on you car/bike
  • Remembering the words and deeds of loving people
  • Having quiet evenings
  • Taking care of your plants
  • Going swimming
  • Doodling
  • Exercising
  • Collecting old things
  • Going to a party
  • Thinking about buying things
  • Playing sports
  • Flying kites
  • Having discussions with friends
  • Spending time with family
  • Riding a motorbike
  • Being intimate
  • Going camping
  • Singing around the house
  • Arranging flowers
  • Practicing religion (going to church, group praying, etc.)
  • Going to the beach
DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities

Go for a Hike.

DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities

Go traveling.

  • Repeating self-affirmations
  • A day with nothing to do
  • Going skating
  • Going sail boating
  • Traveling
  • Painting
  • Doing something spontaneously
  • Doing needlepoint, crewel, etc.
  • Sleeping
  • Driving
  • Entertaining
  • Going to community organizations
  • Going hunting
  • Singing with groups
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Making a gift for someone
  • Buying records
  • Watching sports
  • Planning a party
  • Cooking
  • Going hiking
  • Writing
  • Sewing
  • Buying clothes
  • Going out to dinner
  • Working
  • Discussing books
  • Sightseeing
  • Gardening
  • Cuddling
  • Going to the beauty parlor
  • Early morning coffee and newspaper
  • Watching your children play
  • Going to plays and concerts
  • Daydreaming
  • Planning to go to school
  • Going for a drive
  • Refinishing furniture
  • Watching TV
  • Making a to-do list
  • Going bike riding
  • Walks around town
  • Buying gifts
  • Traveling to national parks
DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities


DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities


  • Completing a task
  • Going to a spectator sport
  • Teaching
  • Photography
  • Going fishing
  • Playing with animals
  • Flying a plane
  • Reading
  • Taking a class
  • Being alone
  • Journaling
  • Writing letters
  • Cleaning
  • Taking your children places
  • Dancing
  • Going on a picnic
  • Meditating
  • Having lunch with a friend
  • Going to the mountains
  • Thinking about having a family
  • Playing cards
  • Solving riddles/puzzles
  • Having a political discussion
  • Seeing and/or showing photos or slides
  • Knitting
  • Doing crosswords
  • Taking a shower
  • Shooting pool
  • Dressing up and looking nice
  • Reflecting on how you’ve improved
  • Talking on the phone
  • Going to museums/zoos/aquariums
  • Lighting candles & watching the flame
  • Listening to the radio
  • Getting a massage
  • Saying “I love you”
  • Thinking about your good qualities
  • Buying books
  • Taking a sauna or a steam bath
  • White-water canoeing
  • Going bowling
  • Doing woodworking
  • Taking ballet, tap dancing
  • Sitting in a sidewalk cafe
  • Going horseback riding
  • Thinking about becoming active in the community
  • Doing something new
  • Adopting a pet
  • Going to a thrift store
  • Helping someone
DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities

Go to the zoo.

DBT Self Help - Pleasant Activities

Watch the sun rise. 

  • Cleaning out your inbox
  • Decorating your home
  • Going on a road trip
  • Buying yourself flowers
  • Tie-dying
  • Getting a haircut
  • Baking
  • Taking a nap
  • Sitting on your stoop/porch/balcony
  • Visiting a bakery
  • Watching the sunrise/sunset
  • Add your own!

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Additional Resources

Mental Health Resources
We aren't the only mental health resource out there. Check out these books, websites, social media accounts, and more for additional support. Read More
DBT Flashcards

Making DBT skills second nature takes practice. Use these flashcards on their page, download your own to print out, or purchase our pre-made set from our shop. Read More

DBT Encyclopedia

DBT has its own lingo which can be hard to understand for beginners. Visit our homemade DBT Encyclopedia to figure out what a term means. Read More

Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness practice is key to DBT. You don't have to meditate in silence everyday, though. Try these Mindfulness exercises to guide you. Read More

Diary Cards

Diary cards help track your emotions, urges, behaviors, and skill use. They help you see patterns. Learn how to use them and get samples. Read More