Whether you’ve lost someone you love, your are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or you are suffering under the weight of any extreme emotion, there are strategies for managing the tsunami.
Here are four responses to extreme emotion.
- Change in temperature
- Intense exercise
- Paced breathing
To employ any one of these strategies, you have to create a pause. That’s a mindfulness technique of stopping yourself and taking one deep breath. There are times in life you don’t have time for a deep breath.
Change in temperature
A change in temperature, usually cold actually has an effect on your body and can shut down a crisis. I do remember when I was struggling with a particularly overwhelming episode of grief in the winter, I would go outside in the cold and walk really fast up and down the street. I ran when it was twelve degrees for two years (only in the winter). The colder it was, the better it worked for me.
There is also a technique of dunking your face into ice cold water. While many would rather not, if you are sober and thinking of getting high, or thinking of suicide, do it. Because it can save your life.
Some who struggle with suicidality have reported to me that an ice pack to the chest around the heart has helped just as much or ice on the wrist so experiment and find what works for you
Video: (Three minutes) Stop, Drop & Roll for Emotional Fires. In the linked video, she makes several recommendations on how to avoid overdose, relapse, or suicide.
This is a video for ice cold water to the face.
Many of those who are grieving have said that ice-cold water on the wrists works for extreme episodes of grief.
This one has been my go-to for me. I have often combined this with going out in freezing cold weather but that’s not always available. Since radiation for a brain tumor, I can no longer run but I can walk or do an elliptical until sweat is rolling down my back. Again, if you are concentrating on this, you can’t ruminate and I think of it like using a punching bag in a healthy way.
This is diaphragmatic breathing. In and out, in and out. Carla Helbert demonstrates this technique here:
Positive self-talk is a technique I have used since I was 15 years old. I recognized after being with friends who all sat around self-criticizing ourselves (my nose is too big, my thighs are too fat) that I didn’t feel good after these sessions so I stopped participating and engaged in positive self-talk. I call them my alter-ego conversations which is what the one comment moves to once I’ve pulled myself together from an emotional emergency and had a moment to reflect. This was and still is a go-to strategy for me because I could employ it at any time at a second’s notice when I needed it.
This requires a pause so one has to take a deep breath in order for this to happen.
“This feeling won’t last forever.”
“I can survive this. I will.”
“As bad as it is right now, it will never be as bad as getting the news.”
“I will work through this.”
“I will pray for help in finding the strength to endure this difficult period.”
“Something is gravely wrong in that person’s life to have said something so cruel to me.”
“I am stronger than my thoughts.”
“I am capable and strong, I can get through this.”
“My thoughts do not have to become actions.”
“I am worthy. I can do this.”
“It will be OK. I’ll figure it out.”
Choose one that works for you and in that pause, insert one of the tools in your coping strategy toolbox which may be in progress.