We all have emotional outbursts. Sometimes we can get control of our emotions easily and come back from the brink of the outburst and other times it feels like we’re in an emotional crisis and can’t escape. Our counsellors at Kells deal with extreme emotions on a regular basis and often recommend clients use the TIPP Skills for Managing Extreme Emotions as adapted from the DBT® Skills Training.
When you’re completely caught in an emotional outburst, your brain has troubles processing information and you become overwhelmed. Try these steps to bring yourself back down:
- Intense Exercise
- Paced Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Surprise your system, and thus decrease your heart rate, by quickly changing the temperature of your face and body – an ice pack on your cheeks or eyes, a splash of cold water on your face, or something similar will work. It will take about 30 seconds for your body to react and lower your pulse. This step is the mammalian dive reflex in action. Because the sudden temperature drop and stimulus to your face, the diving reflex innervates the vagus nerve your pulse will drop and your body will relax.
If you suddenly engage in aerobic activity, your mind will have difficulty remembering the emotional distress and focus instead on the physical activity. For 10 to 15 minutes do something that will increase your heart rate: climbing stairs, running, walking fast, jumping rope, dancing, lifting weights, etc.
Slowing down and focusing on your breathing will help your body calm down. Think while you’re breathing – short inhales and long exhales (4 seconds in and 7 seconds out). Visualize the air filling your lungs and leaving your body. Slowing your breathing for a couple of minutes will help.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Starting from head to toe, do a body scan and consciously tense (for 5 seconds) and release each major muscle group. Pay attention to the tension and relaxation of each muscle, and slowly and calmly bring your heart rate down again. Breath in while tensing and out while relaxing to maximize the effect.
Go through the steps as many times as you need in order to bring your emotions back to level. Remember, you’re not alone in your struggle with emotion and there are tools and ‘tipps’ available to help you get back in control. You can also help someone else going through an emotional outburst by guiding them through the steps.
Give the TIPP Skills a try for yourself and let us know how they worked. Of course, if you need further guidance on managing your emotions, our counsellors are always available to help. Please call us to book an appointment at your convenience.