Many people encounter pent-up emotions that feel all-consuming at some point. The overwhelming emotions are sometimes so intense that managing and coping become challenging. These extreme, uncontrollable emotions can affect your personal and professional relationships in various ways. Numerous hardships and challenges over time can trigger a surge of emotions.
The American Psychological Association (APA) emphasizes the use of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to help and treat a person with overpowering emotions, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and suicidal behaviors. Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that includes cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, emotion management, and consultation therapy. One of the famous DBT skills is TIPP, which stands for Temperature, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Paired muscle relaxation.
What is TIPP skill?
TIPP is easy to learn, and you can perform it anywhere. It comes in handy in a state of overpowering emotions when you do not know what to do. It also helps in falling asleep when your thoughts will not stop and consume you.
TIPP works fast and effectively to calm your down and control your emotions without any negative lingering after-effects. Let us understand how to use each skill of the TIPP method.
By changing our body temperature, we can divert our minds and quickly gain control of our overwhelmed emotions. Splash your face multiple times with cold water or dip your face in cold water (temperature not less than 50 degrees) for at least 30-60 seconds. You can also try ice pack placement on your face.
When you dip your face in cold water or place ice on your face, the mammalian dive reflex triggers that slow our heart rates instantly and activates our parasympathetic nervous system. While dipping your face in cold water or placing an ice pack on your face, hold your breath to fully stimulate the mammalian dive reflex and help ease overpowering emotions. Do not try this TIPP skill if you are suffering from cardiovascular disease.
I- Intense exercise
Whenever you feel overwhelming emotions, you can divert your mind by engaging in intense physical activities to overpower them. Note your emotional intensity levels (zero to 100) before and after the exercise to see the difference. Engage yourself in intense cardio or aerobic exercises for at least 20 minutes or till you feel the diminished emotional intensity.
When you are feeling frustrated or super-angry, intense physical activity is perfect for releasing these pent-up emotions, and it also helps uplift a depressed mood.
P- Paced breathing
By slowing your breathing pace, your parasympathetic nervous system gets activated, which reduces the increased heart rate and helps with overpowering emotions. Take five to six breaths per minute, which means one cycle of inhalation and exhalation (one breath) should take 10-12 seconds to complete. Perform this exercise for at least five minutes.
Before you start this breathing exercise, record your emotional intensity levels (zero to 100) and see the difference after finishing it. DBT-regulated paced breathing skill is an extended version of mindfulness.
P- Paired muscle relaxation
This DBT TIPP skill needs practice to master it. You can try this method before sleeping or when feeling anxious. The paired muscle relaxation technique comprises pairing the word relax with the feeling of relaxing the tensed muscles.
First, notice the tensed muscles when you feel emotionally overwhelmed, then taut those muscles more as you inhale for a few seconds, and as you exhale, say the word relax and release the tension. Follow these steps for each muscle group to tense the muscles and afterward relax them:
- Forehead: Lowering eyebrows and wrinkling your forehead muscles.
- Eyelids: Tightly shutting eyelids
- Face: Raising the cheeks and lips and scrunching up the nose
- Hands: Making fists
- Arms: Making fists and tensing muscles of forearms, biceps, and triceps.
- Shoulders: Raise your shoulder as high as you can
- Tongue and mouth: Push your tongue against the palate and twist your facial muscles around your mouth.
- Neck: Forward bend your chin to touch your chest to taut your neck muscles
- Chest: Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds
- Stomach: Tense your abdominal muscles
- Back: Arch your back as much as you can
- Buttocks: Squeeze your glutes together
- Thighs: Taut your hamstrings and quarts
- Calves: Downward pointing your toes can stimulate your calves’ muscles group
- Ankles and feet: curl your toes and stretch your heels outwards
TIPP skill is easy to perform and very effective in calming you when you feel overwhelmed by emotions. It also helps to overcome destructive emotions and reduces anxiety. So, try them when you are having intense emotional episodes.