ICE AWAY DISTRESS
We love a simple skill. Here’s one that’s mind-blowingly simple: using ice to relieve stress.
What better season than summer to put stress on the rocks.
At Beacon, we use Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and DBT creator Marsha Linehan developed distress-tolerance skills that help people use more adaptive, less destructive strategies when in crisis.
We all face situations that make us feel out of control or cause us to reach for comfort food instead of sitting with difficult emotions.
Cue the TIPP skills from DBT. Today we focus on the “T” in TIPP, which means:
Tip the Temperature!
The aim is to regulate your emotions so you can think more clearly and problem-solve effectively. How? Ice it baby!
In order to calm down quickly, hold your breath and dip your face in a bowl of cold water. (Be sure to keep the water temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.) Or put an ice pack on the back of your neck or on your eyes and cheeks, hold it there for at least 30 seconds, and breathe. So simple! But it works. If you don’t have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen peas.
Here is what happens: cooling the skin activates the mammalian diving reflex a natural reaction in all mammals that is triggered in humans when the face is submerged in cold water. The reflex causes body chemistry to change—heart rate drops, and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated to bring about a relaxation response.
So next time you feel distressed or angry, think “T for temperature” and chill out by chilling down. Other methods: running cold water on your forearms, taking a cold shower, chewing on ice, or just holding an ice cube in your hand. When we briefly change our temperature, we ground ourselves in the present moment and refocus.
When stress is high, we forget simple things. Ice is easy to remember.
Try this. You’ll thank us later.