Feeling stressed out? Here’s how to keep calm so you can carry on

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We’ve spent quite a bit of time getting into our heads recently, so today we are going to talk about three skills that focus on the body. We’re going to break down the TIP skills—and yes, it is an acronym!

 

TIP skills target our body chemistry to reduce the feeling of overwhelm and other forms of high emotional arousal. The skills work quickly, often within seconds to minutes, for those of you looking for more instant gratification. These skills are easy to use and don’t require a lot of thinking, which is important when you’re in a highly stressful situation.

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One caution that I give my patients about TIP skills is that they’re not designed to solve problems; they’re designed to bring down your emotional arousal so you can then think clearly and then solve problems. I’ve had several patients actually be surprised that the skills worked, and they have become go-to skills for many of them.

 

I like these skills for when you are near a breakdown point and need to get your emotional arousal down fast. Other times when the TIP skills are useful include when you’re in a crisis and have high urges to engage in destructive behaviors, when you’re not able to process information correct, when you’re caught up in an emotional and can’t get out or when there’s a problem demanding your attention but you’re too overwhelmed to think clearly.

 

When looking at skills like TIP, the expectation shouldn’t be to drop from maximum intensity to zero. Instead, you’re looking for any change in your emotional experience. So, you might start at 100 and see yourself drop to an 80, which is still high but better than where you started. Others may notice that their overwhelm is steadily increasing but stops increasing after the use of a skill. I tell my patients all the time that sometimes our skill usage isn’t about feeling good, but rather it’s about keeping things from getting worse. TIP skills are short-acting, so they may be the first in a combination of other skills.

 

You might be thinking, but Dr. Johnson, how do these skills work? The TIP skills are designed to activate your body’s physiological nervous system for decreasing arousal. Your nervous system is composed of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

 

The sympathetic system is the one that revs you up. It’s responsible for your fight or flight response and increases arousal. The parasympathetic system tries to keep things balanced. It helps with increasing emotion regulation, which is associated with decreases in emotional arousal. The TIP skills are all about activating your parasympathetic nervous system. With that in mind, let’s break down each of these three skills!

T is for Temperature

The first TIP skill is tipping the temperature. You do this by submerging your face in cold water or placing cold packs on your face while holding your breath. This induces the human dive reflex, which in turn sets off the parasympathetic system and reduces physiological and emotional arousal very quickly. The dive response, which could take up to 30 seconds to activate by using this skill, occurs when your brain thinks it’s underwater. In these situations, your brain will slow your heart rate, reduce blood flow to nonessential organs and redirect blood to your brain and heart. This response helps regulate your emotions and is helpful when you have strong, distressing emotions or have urges to engage in dangerous or destructive behaviors.

 

The most common method that my patients have used is dipping their full face into cold water and holding their breath for anywhere from 30-60 seconds. This should be sufficient enough to start the diving response; however, some patients may hold their breath for longer if they are comfortable doing so. Be careful not to make the water below 50 degrees. This temperature should be enough to engage the diving response.

 

The second most common method is to fill a Ziplock bag with cold water and place it over your eyes and upper cheeks. The third most common method is splashing cold water on your face. We’ve all seen this in the movies. Standing, bending over and holding your breath while using these two methods will often increase the effect.

 

A quick caution: Before using temperature to regulate your emotions, I suggest that you get the a-OK from your medical doctor. Using cold water in this way can reduce your heart rate rapidly, so those with heart disorders, low heart rate due to medications, eating disorders or other medical problems may want to use temperature only under the permission of their medical doctor.

I is for Intense Exercise

The second TIP skill is intense aerobic exercise for 20 to 30 minutes. Intense exercise of any kind for 20 to 30 minutes or so can have a rapid effect on mood, decreasing negative moods and ruminative thoughts and increasing positive moods after completing the exercise.

 

It’s important not to judge the exercise; whatever you would consider to be intense by your fitness level works. That could range from walking briskly to doing backflips.

 

There is research to support that anxiety can reduce significantly if your heart rate gets to 70% of your maximum based on your age. Additionally, getting your heart rate to between 55% and 70% has been shown to increase positive emotions with more lasting effects when the exercise gets your heart rate to 70% intensity.

 

Now you’re beginning to realize why I begrudgingly promote exercise so often! I don’t personally enjoy it, but I do enjoy the effects it has on the mind and body! Use exercise when you are engaging in non-stop rumination, experiencing extreme agitation, when you’re angry or anytime you need a mood boost. Exercise is great in the morning, but you can use it at any time of day that you’ve found useful in the past.

P is for Paced Breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Generally, the heart beats faster during in-breaths and slows down during out-breaths.

 

This change in heart rate is influenced by the sympathetic nervous system activating upon breathing in and the parasympathetic nervous system activating upon breathing out. Consequently, paced breathing can cause changes in your nervous system similar to those of the diving reflex. By slowing down your breathing to five to six breaths per minute, it can reduce emotional arousal by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

 

To give a concrete example, one paced breathing method is known as 4-7-8 breathing. In this exercise, you will inhale for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for a count of seven seconds and exhale for a count of eight seconds. This is a different way of breathing for most, so you may want to limit it to a few cycles at first and expand as you get more efficient at deep breathing.

 

P also stands for progressive muscle relaxation. You can perform this skill alone, but most people will pair it with paced breathing as well.

 

In this exercise, you tense and release various muscle groups. This can be a short exercise, or you can literally go from the tips of your toes to the top of your head! The strategy is to tense muscle groups, noticing the sensation of tension while breathing in, and then relax them by letting go of the tension, noticing the sensations as the muscle tension gradually goes down. The goal is to increase awareness of both stress and relaxation in the body.

 

Most of us carry a lot of tension in our bodies; I’m notorious for having tight shoulders. This exercise can be helpful for letting it all go. Generally speaking, you would tense your muscles on the in-breath, and on the out-breath, repeat the word “relax” to yourself as you let the tension melt away. I’ll walk you through a brief example.

 

For this example, we will focus on two areas, your hands and shoulders. You will want to tense for 5-10 seconds and release for 5-10 seconds. Breathe in as you make a tight fist. Then breathe out while in a soothing internal voice saying the word “relax” as you let all the tension fall in your hands. In regard to your shoulders, it’s the same steps; however, you will pull your shoulders all the way up to your ears and hold them for 5-10 seconds, then let your shoulders gradually relax on the out-breath.

 

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

This article originally appeared on QuickandDirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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39 facts about marijuana we’re betting you didn’t know

 

Cannabis is a booming business in states where legalization has been in effect for years and the trend seems on pace to continue.

In fact, more
and more U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational uses. In fact, most
states
have some form of legalization.

So
with so much talk of marijuana out there, it’s time to separate the
facts from the fiction. Here are 39 of the most surprising and unusual
facts about marijuana that you may not know:

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According
to a study,
“9 percent of those who try marijuana develop dependence.”
Compared to other substances like cocaine and heroin, marijuana
dependency is low. However, marijuana is also much more widely used
than other substances.

 

Niyaz_Tavkaev / istockphoto

 

Even
with all the confusion around laws and its history of illegality,
researchers
say that 42% of Americans have tried marijuana.

 

Heath Korvola/Getty Images

 

Multiple
studies have found that marijuana is safer than alcohol.

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We
tend to think of Colorado and Washington when we think about legal
weed, but both Alaska and Oregon legalized recreational marijuana use and possession just a few years later.

 

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Scientists
at California Pacific Medical Center studied a compound derived from
marijuana and discovered that it may
prevent metastasis in some aggressive cancers
. The scientists
were studying CBD, the substance in marijuana that is non-psychoactive.

 

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Despite
pushes for legalization, there are still a
lot of arrests
made in the U.S. for marijuana possession. In
2015, 650,000 people were arrested because of violations related to
marijuana. That’s 40% of drug arrests in the country and one arrest
every 50 seconds! And these arrests are still disproportionately
focused on black and Latino communities.

 

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Illegal
marijuana tends to be stronger
than legal marijuana
. This is partly because legal marijuana is
more carefully measured for consistency and potency.

 

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While
there are conflicting reports on the effect of marijuana on
teenagers, in adults negative cognitive effects like changes in
memory, perception and thoughts tend to be temporary. There is
currently no evidence that marijuana
use
, even among heavy users, will permanently damage an adult’s
memory or cognition.

 

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Despite
North Korea’s strict stance on other drugs, marijuana is not
even considered a drug
in the country.

 

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In
the 1700s, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew
hemp
and in the 1800s marijuana was sold in some drugstores for
relief of migraines and menstrual cramps.

 

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Marijuana
started
to get banned
in the U.S. in the early 1900s. The 1930s saw the
country’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, who started to make
claims that marijuana turned youth into homicidal maniacs.

 

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In
2013, Uruguay
became the first country in the world to allow its citizens to grow,
sell and consume marijuana legally.

 

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The
ACLU
has tracked multiple cases where people were sentenced to
life in prison without parole for marijuana possession. In one case,
the person possessed 32 grams of marijuana (that’s just over an ounce). In another, they acted as
a go-between for the sale of just $10 of marijuana.

 

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In
2010
, legalization produced such a boom in Colorado that medical
marijuana dispensaries outnumbered Starbucks stores by a ratio of 3
to 1.

 

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In
2015, legal marijuana was the fastest-growing
industy
in the U.S., with a market of $2.7 billion.

 

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James
Munch served as the U.S. Official Expert on “Marihuana” from 1939 to
1962. During that time he testified under oath that marijuana had
turned
him into a bat
.

 

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The
earliest
recorded use
of cannabis is from China in 6,000, B.C., when
cannabis seeds were used for food.

 

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The
oldest stash of marijuana ever found also came
from China
. Researchers discovered 789 grams of dried cannabis
“cultivated for psychoactive purposes” in a 2,700-year-old
tomb in China.

 

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In
India, Bhang shops
sell cannabis-infused drinks like bhang lassi and bhang thandai,
particularly during the celebration of Holi.

 

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In
1971 or 1972, the first
online transaction
happened, well before Amazon or eBay. What was
it? Marijuana sold between students at Stanford and MIT.

 

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Bob
Marley was
buried
on May 21, 1981, along with his red Gibson Les Paul
guitar, a Bible open to Psalm 23 and a stalk of marijuana.

 

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Overdosing
on marijuana
is technically possible, but extraordinarily
unlikely. In theory, a person would have to consume almost 1,500
pounds of marijuana in just 15 minutes to overdose, making it a
practical impossibility.

 

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In
2015, legal marijuana outsold
Girl Scout cookies
.

 

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Sales
of marijuana are on
the rise
. Sales in 2020 grew 46% according to one report.

 

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By
2022, yearly
marijuana sales
in the U.S. could hit $22 billion. This is partly
due to more and more states opening medical and sometimes
recreational marijuana markets.

 

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After
California changed its marijuana laws in 1976, prankster Danny
Finegood hung curtains over the Hollywood sign to change it to
Hollyweed.” It happened again on New Year’s Day, 2017, when another prankster scaled Mount Lee to change the sign.

 

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In
1982, a man with a rare and painful type of bone tumor condition,
Irvin Rosenfeld, sued the federal government for access to marijuana
medicine
– and won, paving the way for others with qualifying
conditions. Today, he gets his marijuana from the federal government,
picking up 300 joints every 30 days.

 

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A study of pipe fragments from William Shakespeare’s garden revealed traces of cannabis.

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On
his 20th birthday, Bill Murray joked about having bombs in
his suitcase while in an airport. When agents searched his luggage,
they instead found $20,000
worth of marijuana
.

 

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In
2017, farmers in Italy started cultivating
cannabis
in order to decontaminate polluted soil. The plants
helped pull heavy metals out of the ground.

 

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As of
2020, 34 U.S. states have legalized marijuana in some form.

 

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A
study
of 6,000 teenagers in the U.K. found that high-achieving
teens were more likely than their peers to drink alcohol and use
cannabis.

 

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There
was a real Mary
Jane
. Mary Jane Rathburn, or Brownie Mary, baked and distributed
marijuana brownies for AIDS patients.

 

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The
Easter Island statues may have moved. How? With ropes
made of hemp
, the fibers of the marijuana plant.

 

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Estrogen
levels may make some people more
sensitive to THC
, the active ingredient in cannabis. Female rats
were at least 30% more sensitive to the properties of THC, including
pain relief.

 

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Marijuana
may have some therapeutic
benefits
for sick pets. But proceed with caution. Dogs and cats
can also die from marijuana toxicosis.

 

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People
can be allergic
to pot
. Experts found that people are sometimes, though rarely,
allergic to the pollen or smoke of the marijuana plant.

 

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Marijuana
can cause “cannabinoid
hyperemesis syndrome
,” a condition characterized by “cyclic
episodes of nausea and vomiting.”

 

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During
World War II, the Office of Strategic Services investigated marijuana
as a means of inducing detainees to spill
their secrets
.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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