Fear, frustration, confusion, helpless, annoyance. These are all emotions I’ve heard from parents describing how they feel when their teen is in extreme emotional distress.
When our brains are overwhelmed with emotion, we CANNOT process information – meaning it is not the time to try and talk to your teen about feelings or solve their problem. It is the time to implement specific coping skills that help calm the emotional tsunami and find the calm after the storm.
TIPP, a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skill, helps your teen by changing their body chemistry and bringing a sense of balance and control back. TIPP is an acronym for temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Let’s look at each one more in depth below :
An intense change in body temperature helps your body to calm down quickly. Splash your face with cold water, rub ice on your forehead or the inside of your wrist for 20 seconds, keep a facemask in the freezer, or take a hot shower.
Take a fast walk around the block. Do as many burpees or pushups as possible within a minute. 50 jumping jacks. Get that heart rate up and your blood flowing!
Keyword here is paced – slowing down our breathing slows down our body. I recommend using an app on your phone or a video to help pace your breaths to ensure you are getting quality breaths. An example of this is the video below - inhale while the triangle grows, exhale while the triangle shrinks:
Progressive muscle relaxation:
This is one I love to teach to athletes. Athletes of all levels are in tune with their bodies, and progressive muscle relaxation helps target areas of tension that we may not normally notice. In progressive muscle relaxation you tense and relax the muscles in your body one at a time or all together to release tension and return to calm. Again, I recommend using an app or video to help with this skill, at least initially. An example is the video below.
You can’t teach someone to swim while they are drowning, so helping your teen to decrease the emotional overwhelm and find balance in the moment is key.
Need support with your teen helping them overcome extreme emotions? I will work with your teen to create a coping plan that works so that they can love the life they live (even if they have anxiety or depression.)
Click the button below and connect with us for a free parent call. I can help you get clear on the behaviors that are hindering your teen’s happiness and collaborate with you to develop a plan for the next best steps in support.
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Former Athletic Trainer, current Mental Health Professional. Boston sports lover.