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TIP: DBT Grounding Techniques to Overcome Extreme Emotion Fast

Emotions are at the center of what makes us human. It is normal to experience a broad range of emotions in everyday life, such as amusement, joy, excitement, sadness, anger, anxiety - just to name a few. And, there are times that you may even experience a sudden onset of extreme emotion. The type of emotion that overtakes your mind and body, and makes you feel helpless to control it.

Most of us have experienced a bout of extreme emotion at one time or another. After all, life is good at throwing us curve balls when we least expect it. Some extreme emotions are normal, based on the circumstance. For example, an individual may have just been told about the loss of a loved one and become overwhelmed with shock and grief; causing their body to shake, their breathing to become erratic, and sob uncontrollably. As sad and horrible as that situation may be, these emotions are considered appropriate for the circumstance.

Frequent occurrences of extreme emotion are not considered normal and may be cause for concern. There are several treatable mental health conditions that can cause a person to experience extreme emotions more frequently and under far less extreme conditions. Professional help should be sought to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Some of the mental health conditions that can cause extreme emotions include; Trauma, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and other mood disorders. 

No matter the cause, if you find yourself overcome by extreme emotion, there are grounding techniques that can help you to calm down and regain control of your mind and body. Below are some Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) based techniques to help you overcome extreme emotions. 


Caution: Very cold water decreases your heartrate rapidly. Intense exercise will increase heartrate. Consult your healthcare provider before using these skills if you have a heart or medical condition, a lowered base heartrate due to medications, take a beta-blocker, are allergic to cold, or have an eating disorder.

Resource Credit:  DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan. 



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