Coping strategies for extreme emotions

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
  • Cheerleading

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. 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.

Intense Exercise

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.

Paced breathing

This is diaphragmatic breathing. In and out, in and out. Carla Helbert demonstrates this technique here:

More breathing techniques are here.

Self Cheerleading

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.”

Guides on how to tell someone you want to die

Suicide Prevention Resources- For those living with suicidality

There are some affiliate links to some of the books that fund my passion for yachting (haha).

Choose one that works for you and in that pause, insert one of the tools in your coping strategy toolbox which may be a work in progress.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

2 thoughts on “Coping strategies for extreme emotions”

  1. I don’t think it’s worth trying anymore
    I’m 14 and I have a boyfriend who I love but I have told him I’m suicidal and he just didn’t listen and said that I just shouldn’t feel that way and that I’m not suicidal I’m just being silly

    Maybe he’s right and my feelings are just me being stupid

    My mum yells at me And calls me names whenever I self harm

    Yet she says I can always tell her when I’ve done it
    nd when I tell her how it makes me feel she just says don’t be so stupid and swear A lit and then goes off

    I don’t know why I bother living
    I feel so bad to the point where I almost throw up and I can’t tAlk to anyone

    1. I hear you. Ellie I am so sorry. It sounds like you feel dismissed and no one is taking you seriously. From what you said it also sounds like your mom is trying to shame you out of self harm not really understanding why people self harm. I wish she understood it has to do with your internal pain. So I am going to suggest you find and tell a trusted adult. Usually that is a school counselor. Once you tell that person the others in your life will take you seriously. But likely you will get support and that will do a suicide risk assessment. That’s a list of a few questions to figure out your risk level. I think if you felt heard by someone that alone would quiet some of those suicidal thoughts.

      I have to say this reaction is not unusual. Neither your boyfriend nor your mom know what to to or can fathom that you seriously need support right now.

      How do you feel about visiting and telling your school counselor? I am listening

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