Episode 32 – Distress Tolerance (Pt. 2)

Another method of distress tolerance is a few options collectively called the TIP Skills. These are geared toward reducing extreme emotional states fast, as experienced in crisis situations. They are developed as ways of changing your body chemistry.

The T in TIP stands for Temperature, referring to the temperature of your face. To calm down fast, you can put your face in a bowl of cold water (holding your breath, of course), or alternatively hold a cold pack (could be ice water in a bag, frozen vegetables or other things from the freezer, etc.) or chilled gel face mask over your cheeks, forehead, and temples. Be careful holding frozen things directly on your skin – it might be worth wrapping them in a thin towel. Make sure you hold your breath, even if not underwater.

The combination of holding your breath with the cold triggers the “dive response”, which might take 15-30 seconds to start. This slows down your heart rate, your blood flow to nonessential organs is reduced, and blood flow is redirected to your brain and heart. This response can help regulate emotions – allowing you to handle strong emotions or urges.

This also doesn’t work for everyone. There are health conditions that make this a dangerous method to attempt. It causes the heart rate to drop, so if you have a heart condition or other type that would be affected, you want to consult your doctor first.

The I in TIP stands for Intense exercise. This is to calm down your body when it is wound up by emotion. Pretty self-explanatory, this skill means throwing yourself into intense exercise, even if it’s just for a short while. This uses up your body’s stored up physical energy. You can even just walk fast or jump, you can run, you can play a sport, use a workout machine.

This was a good method for me as a child. I remember I used to kick a soccer ball up the stairs and keep it from bouncing all the way back down – for half an hour or longer. It was probably annoying to listen to, but if you have children, you’re probably used to annoying noises, and it served me well in giving me something to focus on and physically wear myself out doing instead of getting worked up emotionally.

The P stands for two things. The first one is Paced breathing. This taps into some mindfulness skills, focusing on your breathing to manually slow it down. This is pretty simple. You just breathe deeply into your belly; slow your pace of inhaling and exhaling down, ideally to about 5 or 6 breaths per minute; and breathe out more slowly than you breathe in, like 4 seconds on the inhale and 6 seconds on the exhale.

We’ll go into the second P in the next post.

Published by Rawry

I'm just a writer and gamer living in the middle of nowhere..

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