Maybe you are more like frozen in fear,
suffocating in humiliation,
or exploding with rage?
How can you possibly RELIEVE and
even SOOTHE such emotional pain?
Hold your breath and submerge
your face in cold water!*
This activates a physiological response that overrides the emotions. Patience! It may take 30-60 seconds to begin.
Repeat 3-4 times, holding your breath as long as comfortably possible. For maximum effect, sit quietly, without distraction while submerging the face.
Emotional relief should last for 5-15 minutes. You may need to repeat if, or continue to down-regulate distress using a different strategy. (See more follow up strategies below.)
Cold water is also great for the skin. Think of it as an "ice water facial!"
This is actually the "dive reflex." It occurs when cold water is in contact with the nostrils and face, and a person is holding their breath. Blood is directed to the heart and the brain where oxygen is most needed and it is restricted from the extremities. The heart rate slows 25%. This overrides the heat and intensity of emotional pain.
Once you try it, you may want to follow it up with:
Additional strategies to relieve the emotion and just not make the situation worse.
- Take a cold (or hot) shower. - Take a bubble bath. - Go for a walk. - Give yourself a scalp massage or other massage. - Listen to music opposite to your mood. - Listen to a guided meditation, a favorite podcast, or an audio book. - Put a drop of hot sauce on your tongue. - Have a cup of tea or coffee.relei - Lay down on the bed or floor. - Pet the dog or cat. - Run up and down the stairs, do jumping jacks, or run in place. - Find a Youtube Yoga for relaxation video to follow.
- Attend to your breath, extending the exhales to be loooong and slooooowww.
Or find another activity to continue to soothe your body or distract/refocus your attention to continue to effectively manage the emotion.
* Note, this is a powerful and effective practice, but if you suffer from cardiovascular disease, please consult your doctor first, before you try it.
More about the science of mammalian dive response: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538245/#:~:text=The%20dive%20response%20activates%20with,in%20triggering%20this%20autonomic%20reflex.