How To Use The 'TIPP' Method To Balance Mental Health When Experiencing Coronavirus Depression

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How To Use The 'TIPP' Method To Balance Mental Health When Experiencing Coronavirus Depression
Health And Wellness

It's OK to feel overwhelmed right now.

Each state in America has its own regulations on how to manage the public health crisis (COVID-19) affecting our world.

People are encouraged to self-quarantine, refrain from gathering in groups larger than 10 at a time, and maintain a distance of six feet or more when coming into contact with someone.

This regulation has required many of us to stay in our homes and surround ourselves with those who we share the same mailbox with way more than our former normal routine requires.

It's also a trying time for mental health and those who struggle with depression, suicide, or thoughts of self-injury.

RELATED: 5 Expert Tips On Managing Coronavirus Anxiety For Highly Sensitive People

A website that I love to frequent had a thread entitled: "Is Your Family Driving You Crazy Yet?!" I clicked on the thread and read some cute, lighthearted stories.

But as I continued reading, the stories became less lighthearted and sadder, including some from those who are struggling with self-harm and self-injury during this period of isolation.

Some even included posts from people who are suffering in quarantine with abusers.

People are unique. Every brain operates differently, even identical twins have varying emotional sensitivity and temperament. Each person will respond to quarantine, anxiety, and stress from this pandemic differently.

For some people, no matter their age, racial or ethnic background, or economic status, engaging in self-injury helps with reducing the intensity of the overwhelming emotions that hijack their day.

With the requirement of being home and the subsequent position that puts you in to have frequent contact with those whom you get along well with, as well as with those whom you may struggle to like, this message will offer guidance on ways to keep self-injury off the table.

In those moments when emotions are running extremely high, here is a skill you can try called "TIPP": Temperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

It's a crisis-survival strategy from Dr. Marsha Linehan’s therapeutic approach, "Dialectical Behavior Therapy," that you can use to bring your emotional intensity down, slow your heart rate, and regulate your breathing.

Using TIPP allows you to change your body chemistry quickly.

RELATED: 5 Actionable Steps To Calm Anxiety & Stress During The Coronavirus Pandemic

1. Temperature

Put cold water on your face to calm down fast.

Or hold a cold pack or ziplock bag with ice water on your eyes and cheeks, or splash cold water on your face; do this for at least 30 seconds.

Here’s another idea: While holding your breath, put your face in a bowl of cold water; keep the water above 50°F.

Caution: Ice water decreases your heart rate rapidly. (Intense exercise will increase heart rate.)

Consult your healthcare provider before using these skills if you have a heart or medical condition, a lowered base heart rate due to medications, take a prescribed beta blocker, or have an eating disorder.

Avoid ice water if allergic to cold temperatures.

2. Intense Exercise

To calm down your body when it's revved up by emotion, engage in intense aerobic exercise, if only for a short while (10 to 15 minutes).

Get rid of your body’s extra physical energy by running, walking fast, jumping rope, or jumping jacks, playing basketball, weight lifting, or putting on music and dancing.

Don’t overdo it. Remember, if you have a heart or medical condition, this approach will increase your heart rate!

Consult with your medical provider if you have concerns.

3. Paced Breathing

Slow your pace of breathing down to about five to seven in-and-out breaths per minute.

Breathe deeply from the abdomen. Breathe out more slowly than you breathe in (e.g., four seconds in and six seconds out).

Do this for one to two minutes to bring down your arousal.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Tense and relax each muscle group, head to toe, one muscle group at a time.

Start with your scalp and work your way down.

Tense (five seconds), then let go. Relax each muscle all the way.

Notice the tension; notice the difference when relaxed.

And if you need more support, here are some resources that may be helpful:

Crisis Text Line — Text TALK to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone line (24 hours): 1-800-273-8255, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online chat service.

It's my hope that you and your family stay safe during this time of uncertainty and transformation.

It's also my hope that this strategy will assist your efforts of keeping self-injury off the table as an option in managing overwhelming and unpleasant emotions.

Hang in there, I'm rooting for you!

RELATED: 6-Step Guide To Working From Home During Coronavirus Quarantine — Without Losing Your Sanity & Staying Productive

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Vena M. Wilson, LCSW, owner of Honey Bee Behavioral Health in Las Vegas, Nevada, focuses on helping people in rebuilding their lives after experiencing trauma. For more information on how she can help you connect with her here.

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