If you struggle to self-regulate when you’re feeling big emotions, try one of my favourite strategies, TIPP!
TIPP stands for: Temperature, Intense Movement, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and Paced Breathing, and these are 4 game-changing emotional/nervous system regulation strategies that can be used together, or separately, to help you slow down and self-soothe.
Let’s break down how to use each one!
COLD exposure (splashing cold water on your face, having a cool shower, holding something from the fridge/freezer in your hands, or placing an ice pack on your chest or back of neck) is great for Hypo-arousal ie low, flat checked out feelings (freeze response/dissociation/depressive symptoms). HEAT exposure (a hot steamy shower or warm bath, holding a cup of tea in your hands, snuggling into a weighted blanket, using a heat pack/hot water bottle, or cuddling a person/pet) tends to work best for Hyper-arousal, ie heightened feelings such as stress, anxiety, overwhelm or anger.
This doesn’t have to be a full workout – even a few minutes of intense movement such as sprints, skipping, a few jumping jacks or all over body-shaking (you’ll find a demo at the end of this module) can help release built up tension in the body. ANY kind of movement, particularly if you’re feeling checked out, dissociative, or experiencing the “FREEZE” response is still helpful, so that could simply even be relocating to another room, doing some stretches, or taking a quick walk around the block for some fresh air.
PAIRED OR PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
PAIRED muscle relaxation is more what we’ve done as part of our 3-Point Check In, identifying any areas of tightness/tension, and spending a few minutes massaging, stretching, or soothing the localised area. Ideally we want to pair this with deep breathing, and/or calming thoughts. PROGRESSIVE muscle relaxation, works through each body part, tensing for a few seconds, then relaxing. Example in the resources!
Taking it back to our breathing techniques, we want to aim for slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing, in through the nose, then pushing out through the mouth – longer out than in (ie 7 in, 11 out). You could also try guided breathwork on Spotify, the 5-Finger breathing technique from Module 8, or find a slow, relaxing song that you can breathe along to the timing (The cover of “Here comes the sun” by Christina Perri is a great one for 8 in, 8 out).
You can absolutely use these on their own, or a few minutes of each, and TIPP can be a particularly helpful prompt if you’re noticing the urge to binge eat, or feeling overwhelmed with emotions and are heading towards that ‘freeze’ state where you are totally checked-out and end up scrolling on your phone in zombie mode.
Instead of pushing it down or leaning into unhelpful coping tools, see if you can just take 5 minutes to practice any of the strategies from TIPP (or a few minutes of each!) to take you from a boiling point to a simmer, and you might find that things feel a lot better in a matter of minutes!
If you’re still struggling to cope, try reaching out for support and connection, especially if you’re feeling lonely, isolated, or struggling to deal with what you’re experiencing on your own – your loved ones would want to help, even if its just a positive distraction to let your body calm down while hearing a familiar voice!
If you need more help developing your coping toolbox to regulate your emotions and/or nervous system, click the link below to book a free 15 minute consultation, I’d love to help!