Mental Health Monday #3 — A Few DBT Skills (TIPP & cold water)

Hiya friends! Welcome to third instalment of my mental health Monday series.

To be honest, I nearly forgot about this handy little acronym, though it’s one of the first skills I learned in DBT! The TIPP skill is great because it’s about basically tricking your body, which tricks your brain. Both TIPP and the Cold Water skill are great for when you’re experiencing extreme and potentially dangerous or harmful emotions that you need to change such as anxiety or anger.

T – Temperature

I – Intense exercise

P – Paced breathing

P – Paired Muscle Relaxation

Temperature. The idea here is to cool your body down. Take a super cold shower. Put an ice pack over your eyes and cheeks. Put your face in a bowl of ice water (another skill I’ll discuss at the end of this post!)

Intense exercise. Exactly as it sounds. When we experience strong emotions, our bodies create excess physical energy, that can lead us to being impulsive or doing something harmful. So, go for a run! Walk on the treadmill at a brisk pace. Lift weights. Do Zumba. Make sure you get your heart rate going and work up some sweat!

Paced breathing. Take big, deep breaths in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth for even longer periods. I learned a technique a few years ago called the 4-7-8 method for breathing. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds (make sure to count your Mississippi’s!), hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds through your mouth. Do this 3-5 times until you feel calmer. 

The paces breathing especially is honestly a God send for anxiety, but works well for anger and sadness as well. Probably other things too.

Takes some practice, but I would highly recommend it!

Paired muscle relaxation. Breathe in and tense the muscles in your body, notice how that makes you feel. Then, when you breathe out, relax all that tension, and notice how you feel when you aren’t all tensed up. I recommend starting with “easy” muscles like hands, legs, toes, shoulders, etc.

For the cold water skill, it doesn’t actually have to be ice water, but make sure it’s cold. Hold your face in a bowl or sink full of cold water for somewhere between 15-30 seconds.

Scientists say that this triggers a response in your brain called the “dive response”. 

It tricks our brains into thinking that we’re actually quite literally diving under water, so to compensate, our brains will send signals to our heart to slow down a bit. Blood flow to our extremities get slowed way down, and instead the blood gets redirected to more “vital” parts of us, such as the brain and heart. 

Alrighty, friends! That’s all I have for today.

Like I mentioned last week, I’m on new meds again and I’m so tired, so writing is a bit harder than usual but I’m trying to stick with it.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have, but keep in mind, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m still learning myself.

Keep your chin up.

As always, and especially in times like these, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends!

Paige

Mental Health Monday #2 – An Apology and a DBT skill (Wise Mind ACCEPTS)

Hi again, friends!

Sorry I didn’t make a post last week. I bet you thought I disappeared again, but I didn’t.

These last few weeks have been rough. I’ve changed medications twice since I wrote last, I think, and I’ve had a lot going on mentally and situationally.

Today is day two of Seroquel and it’s kinda kicking my ass, honestly. I’m exhausted and having a bit of a rough day mentally, but I decided that if all I get done today is this post, then that can be enough for me.

So with that said, I’m going to write about this skill in DBT called Wise Mind ACCEPTS.

If you recall my last post, I talked about the difference between wise mind, emotional mind, and reasonable mind.

Wise mind is the place where reason and emotion meet.

ACCEPTS is an acronym. It stands for:

A – Activities. 

C – Contributing.

C – Comparisons.

E – Emotions.

P – Pushing away.

T – Thoughts.

S – Sensations. 

These are all distraction techniques, but the acronym is a helpful way to remember them. In no way are you meant to do all of these things at once.

Activities can be things like exercising, cleaning your house or bedroom, watching your favourite movie, or starting that new show you’ve been meaning to watch, or reading a book. The point is to do something you enjoy.

Contributing can be things like volunteer work, or donating things you don’t want or need anymore, or messaging an old friend and giving them words of encouragement, or heck, even go hug someone you love.

Comparisons are when you think back on old situations and appreciating how far you’ve come. 

Emotions. Try to evoke an emotion in yourself other than the one you’re feeling right now. If you’re sad, watch a comedy that will make you laugh. If you’re angry, listen to your favourite happy or sad song. The point is to feel another strong emotion other than the one that caused you to use the skill in the first place.

Pushing away is about setting your current emotion aside for now. This doesn’t mean forgetting about it or avoiding it forever, but if you’re unable to deal with your present emotion, try to find a way to think about other things.

Thoughts are about distracting your current thoughts. Start counting, whether you just want to count to 10 or 100, or count the colours you see in a room, literally anything you want. Or if numbers aren’t your favourite, try to remember all of the words to a song you know, or focus on the words in a book. It’s all about focus.

Sensations are about creating new physical sensations in your body to distract from emotions. You can do this by holding an iced cube in your fist, taking a warm or cold shower, getting someone close to us emotionally to scratch your back or “pet” your hair. Squeeze a stress ball. Eat spicy food. Stuff like that.

These things help distract us from our current situations and emotions until the emotion is “cooler” or more calmed down, or the situation feels less overwhelming, and we can (hopefully) return to it in wise mind.

Alrighty, friends, that’s it for me for now because I feel like garbage. Hopefully you find some help in posts like these. Feel free to ask any questions you may have, but keep in mind, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m still learning myself.

Keep on keeping on.

As always, and especially in times like these, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends!

Paige