Crisis to Calm: 4 DBT Skills with Dr. Johnson

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DBT skills can help you manage intense emotions, improve relationships, and navigate challenging situations effectively. DBT stands for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. If you want to learn more about it, read on. This post features  Dr. Monica Johnson

Emma: All right. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, so much for being here. I’m super excited to talk with you about a DBT skill and how to manage crises using some kind of really hands-on skills. So, thank you so much for being here. 

Yeah. 

Dr. Johnson: I’m excited to talk with you today. 

Emma: Awesome. Cool. Well, could you start off by telling us about what is DBT? When is it helpful? How can you use it? 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. So, DBT stands for dialectical behavior therapy, and it was originally developed by a psychologist, Marshall Linehan to help with borderline personality disorder. But over time we recognize that it works for basically anyone who has difficulty with emotion regulation.

So if you have a mood disorder, like depression, if you struggle with anxiety, even people who have PTSD, eating disorders, anger, I could go on and on about the things that DBT can actually be effective for. 

Emma: That’s awesome. And one of the things I really like about DBT is it’s just so like practical. It’s like, here is a skill you can use when this happens, right? 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. And so that is really one of the cornerstones of DBT is that we do help people in a lot of different ways in terms of when you have an in the moment situation or crisis that you need skills for, we give you skills for that. But in doing and learning about dialectics, we also help you to like have a different worldview and perspective and like tackle and approach and visualize problems in different ways too.

A lot of times we don’t recognize that our reaction to something is what’s causing the problem and not necessarily the thing in front of us. 

Emma: The situation. Yeah. Yeah. So, I like that about DBT. So, my audience knows I use a lot of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. One of the goals of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is to create flexibility so that you have the ability to choose instead of reacting to emotions.

Now, a dialectic, that’s kind of a big word that kind of means like understanding the two sides of something. Is that right? 

Dr. Johnson: Right. And so with dialectics, what we, one of the things that we’re understanding is that like living in extremes creates problems. Right? And choosing to think about things dialectically, what we’re trying to do is understand that there’s truth in both sides of the extremes.

And we’re trying to synthesize to get a closer approximation of what feels good or true for us as a person. Right? And so, even as I’m explaining this, it can feel like very complicated of a concept, but it’s something that we do naturally when it doesn’t bother us. And when it bothers us, it’s something that’s very hard to do, right?

So for instance, if you go to the gas station and all of a sudden gas is like 10 dollars, like, you know, you understand that like, I need gas. And gas is expensive, you know, and both of these things are true the same time. You know what I mean? I can be upset about this like duality or I can accept that like gas is really expensive and I have to figure out how to afford it and like focus on the sure synthesism or moving forward on that issue, because maybe I can’t change the fact that I need gas and maybe I can’t change the fact that it’s expensive, but I can figure out how to get my car from A to B if I don’t get caught up on those two extremes. 

Emma: Yeah. Ooh, I like that. I like that a lot. And I can think about a lot of situations where someone might be experiencing really intense emotions, something might feel super, oh, just so intense and they’d be inclined to be reactive. Maybe they’re in crisis or they’re gonna, they just want to blow up or scream or yell or even engage in some self-harm or a self-sabotaging behavior like substance use.

And so today we’re going to talk a little bit about how to use some DBT skills in crisis. Right? 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, in talking through that, I want to kind of talk about how we view a crisis in DBT, because there can even be a lot of judgment that people have about like, am I in a crisis or not?

You know, and sometimes we can be in a crisis state and we just wanna swipe left on ourselves and just like ignore it because we’re like, well, I shouldn’t be like in crisis, which is like a weird thought to say out loud. But that is what can happen in our own system. So in DBT, the way that we define a crisis is that it is something that is temporary. That it puts us in a state of distress, meaning that it doesn’t feel good. And it makes us want to do something right now. So it can lead us into doing something that is impulsive. So like you brought up substance use, that can be an impulsive reaction to being in a crisis state. You know, and one of the things that I like about this definition of a crisis is that you don’t need to do a comparison with it.

Like if somebody’s on fire and somebody’s drowning, you don’t have to say, “Which one is worse? Which ones worse?” You know what I mean? 

Emma: Oh it’s not that bad. I’m not being burned, I’m just drowning. They might, they have it worse than I do. Right? 

Dr. Johnson: Exactly. Right? And so you could just say like, Is this like a more temporary state or heightened state? You know, most of us don’t like live in 10 out of 10 crises every single day. Like, am I feeling pain right now? Do I feel freaked out? Panic? Yes. Okay. Do I feel like doing something that probably isn’t the greatest for me right now? Check. Okay. I am in a crisis, you know? And so I love the way that we talk about it in DBT because then people start to recognize all of the ways that they might be in these little, I guess, micro crises, like in their day to day, like week to week living. 

Emma: Totally. Totally. And I mean, I could think of an example from my life if that’s helpful, but like, I mean, just yesterday my husband and I were driving, he was having a little bit of a grouchy day, and he comes up with this piece of criticism for me, like, “Here, Emma, this is something you’re doing wrong with parenting.” And of course, that’s like an incredibly tender place for me. Very important to me. And also he was in a bad mood and I could have just been like, well, but you and like, just right. Like that’s a situation where it’s not the end of the world.

No one’s dying, but it’s just like a marital, like a little marital issue. feels like on the emotional intensity level, like really high. 

Dr. Johnson: Absolutely. And in that moment, you’re thinking of all the ways that like, I can make this worse, but like, really petty. 

Emma: Oh, yeah, let me start listing all the things that I did this morning and all the things you’re awful about. And let me tell you …… Defend myself or attack him or shut down, or stonewall. Fantasize about getting a divorce or something. 

Dr. Johnson: Right, right. And that’s another aspect of a crisis too, is like in the moment, it can make us incredibly short-sighted, right? Because like you said, this is really intense. You want to protect yourself. You want to protect your identity in that moment.

And then what happens is you forget about everything that surrounds that moment to 

Emma: All the work he’s putting in, all the good times we’ve had, all the times we’ve solved problems, our ability to communicate our ability to work through stuff. Like how nice, so many things are right. You just forget about, in a crisis, your brain kind of like shuts down, forgets about so many things.

Dr. Johnson: And I will say like, that’s also like a dialectic, right? That like a person can love me and then they can also do things that are harmful to me. So, like that statement was probably like a punch in the gut. Right? And that’s horrible. You know, and so, but if we can hold that dialectic that like this person loves me, you know, and in this moment they did something that was harmful for me, then we can kind of synthesize those two things and figure out a middle path that moves us forward and a middle path is not you just coming back and listing all the ways in which they’re horrible. What that would actually do would create more of a polarization and in being dialectical, we’re trying to reduce polarization. 

Emma: Okay. 

Dr. Johnson: And so like, if you would have made those sorts of comments. Like, say I’m your husband in this scenario, and you’re saying that to me, and then I’m like, well, here are all the other things that I didn’t even say to you right now. And like, now we’re creating a bigger and bigger wedge between one another versus figuring out a way how to approach one another and problem solve as a team, which you’ve already done. You’ve proven that you can do. 

Emma: Totally. Totally. Yeah. And like with that, the opposite of polarization, I can sit there and think like, Oh, he’s a complete jerk. He’s being so awful. He’s being angry. He’s being mean. Or I can think, well, is there a little bit of truth in what he’s saying? Like he is having a grouchy day. And. He has a point, like both of those, like holding those two ideas in my mind is like, okay, this creates a little bit of more flexibility that makes it so that we can not add fuel to this fire and solve this problem a little bit. Right? 

Dr. Johnson: Absolutely. And that flexibility that you’re bringing up is one of the, you know, great things about ACT Therapy also in DBT as well is like, you can then take that flexibility and like, use it as a tool for yourself. You know, it’s the rigidity of these situations that like break us down and like silo us, you know, or some of the all or nothing, which is another extreme kind of thinking traps that we can get into, particularly in a crisis state, because of what’s happening in our body, it can encourage us to kind of think in these like absolute ways.

Emma: Totally. Totally. And I think people don’t realize when you’re in that fight, flight, freeze response, when you’re anxious, stressed, scared, worried, your brain is more likely to think in absolutes. Like you’re, it actually impacts like how your body impacts your thinking patterns. 

Dr. Johnson: Oh, absolutely. And that that’s actually a good segue into one of the skills that I wanted to talk about today, which is in DBT, we call it the, the TIPP skill. And it’s a really good skill for like manipulating your kind of body chemistry and in certain moments and I really want to like, set us up for this. So, one of the things that I want to talk about very briefly before I get into the TIPP skill is just when I talk about crisis survival skills, I always want people to understand that a crisis survival skill is not an everyday living skill. You know, a crisis survival skill, it may not even actually make you feel good. You know, it’s something to keep the situation from getting worse and to hopefully kind of turn the car around and get it moving in the other direction. And so I always like to educate people about that, because sometimes if I don’t do that, they’ll use it and they’ll be like, well, I wasn’t happy after it was like, well, that wasn’t the point here. The point was to keep the house from burning down and the circumstances. And so it’s good, it’s important to have realistic expectations and of what a crisis survival skill is going to do. So, something like the TIPP skill is really good when you are feeling a lot of that like physical anxiety, physical crises. You can feel your mind just going a million times a minute, like the TIPP skill is going to be really good. And what TIPP stands for is temperature, intense exercise, paired breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. And I’ll go through each of those different pieces. The first one, temperature, is one that I actually really love. And something that I explain to people is you’re an animal. And don’t ever forget that. You know, and that’s one of the reasons why this skill works is it taps into our mammalian diving response. And so with the TIPP skill, basically what you’re going to be trying to do, and there’s a few different ways you can do it. The most common way that people do is they will fill up a sink or fill up a large bowl with cold water. And some people will want to put ice and things in the water and you can do that. If you have heart conditions or anything like that, talk to your, your doctor because one of the things. we’re doing with temperatures, we’re slowing down your heart rate, and we’re going to do it pretty quickly. And so if you have heart conditions, consult with your doctor before you do this, because it does work.

And so that’s what I try to explain to people. And so what you would do is you would, you know, fill up the bowl or fill up the sink with cold water. You lean over and submerge your face in the water. And normally, you know, people will do this for about 30 seconds or so if you can’t hold your breath for a full 30 seconds, then you come up, get a sip of air and then go back down into the water.

So, that’s one way to do it. You can also do this by putting like an ice pack or a cold towel, like on your face and leaning over. And then a third way that you can do it is just leaning over and splashing water on your face. All of us have watched movies where people lean over and splash cold water on their face.

And so these are all methods that you can do. The splashing the water on the face isn’t going to work as well as the fully submerging your, your face in the water to calm down. And I’m going to explain a little bit more about why that is. So, I’ve already mentioned the mammalian diving response. And basically what occurs for a mammal is when we dive into deep cold water, you know, our body naturally slows down our heart rate, slows down our respiration and all of these things in order to prepare us to be under the water for longer periods of time. And so this is one of the ways you can hack your system because think about what happens when you’re in a crisis. In a crisis, heart rate goes up, respiration goes up. Everything’s going up and so you can tap into that mammalian diving response by using one of these three methods to equalize things and start to bring you back down.

And so normally what will happen after you use the temperature is people will feel a little more calm than what they did before. And kind of what we talked about, that flexibility, it just creates that space that now I can think of what is the next thing I need to do. So, like, help myself, now that my brain’s not moving at a million miles a minute, is there another skill I can do to even help myself further than using the temperature in this way? And so, yeah. And so that’s the temperature one.

Intense exercise when I talk to people about ….

Emma: Can I just pause you one second? 

Dr. Johnson: Sure,go ahead. 

Emma: This really interesting because so yesterday my husband and I were in the car, we have this little fight. We go to a family gathering and I’m like [inaudible] and he’s like [inaudible], this is so funny. I was not planning on telling this story. And in the meanwhile, we’re at my family’s house. They have a pool and my six-year old was supposed to get her water wings on and then get in the pool. And we told her that, well, she forgot.

She goes down the slide and it’s in the middle of the deep end, and bobs up up looking like [inaudible] and then bobs back down. and I’m fully clothed, and I like, I sat and was watching, I’m fully clothed, run over there, jump in the pool, pull my six-year old out of the pool. And you know what? After that, I felt a bit calmer, like to be honest, because I just like, like a cold shock and took some movement.

This is, this was not, I was not intending this podcast to be about like my personal stuff. But there is something about having like that sensory shift and the cold helps regulate your nervous system. 

Dr. Johnson: Absolutely. And so I’m talking about that, but even what you’re talking about of like that plunge another technique using temperature that I’ll tell people is, you know, like when they’re ruminating about something and they can’t get it off of their mind, I tell them, go take a cold shower. I bet you, whatever was in your head will not be in your head. As soon as that first blast of cold water hits your body. All you’re thinking of is like, [inaudible] you know, and so then again, it creates that space for you to then be like, is there something else I can do to help me move forward?

And again, as mammals, we respond really, I would say intensely to cold. 

Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And we did have some good conversations afterwards and worked it all out, you know, but. I felt better after jumping in a pool. 

Dr. Johnson: And so without having a child nearly drown, maybe do that for fun. 

Emma: Putting your face in a cold glass, a bowl of water. It seems like a lot more practical approach to that. So, yeah. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, you had to like hit a 10 there and then you jumped in the water. Hit is good. And you’re like, oh, now I can [inaudible] yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m glad they’re okay. 

Emma: She’s fine. She’s fine. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. And the reason, one of the reasons I like temperature too is, you know, I always like interventions that most people are going to have access to. You know, and most of us have access to cold water. You know, you don’t have to buy anything typically in order to use that like for yourself.

And so I really encourage it. And I also like things that you can use in multiple settings. And so even what I said about with the temperature, you know, I’ve coached people on like how to do this, even if you’re in an office setting at work. You know, so I’ve had patients who will go and they will take the same kind of like ice packs that you put in your lunch boxes, they will take those and put them in the break room fridge.

And then if they’re having a moment, they go get it out. They discreetly go to the bathroom. They get in the stall and they’re like, okay, like I’m bending over and I’m, you know, doing my deal. 

Emma: Breathing gets messed up. 

Dr. Johnson: Exactly. And so, yeah, I try to come up with like, what are little tools that people can use in a lot of different situations?

Emma: Love it. Okay. What’s the I tell us about the I. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah, so the I is intense exercise and when I talk to people about intense, I’m like, again, you’re the starting point for intense. If you don’t work out intense is not like doing a CrossFit workout. It’s something that feels difficult for you and like gets your heart rate up. And so another thing that obviously happens, we’ve already talked about how when you’re in a crisis, everything gets revved up, right? Sometimes that can land in our body is kind of this energy, this agitated kind of energy. And so I like the I in TIPP for those kind of moments and it doesn’t have to be a long amount of exercise.

It doesn’t have to be like a full 45-minute workout. It can literally be, I’m going to take 60 seconds and do jumping jacks because I need to get this energy like out of my system or, you know, I’m in New York City, so, I would always tell people like, go do the stairs, you know, like just go and go up and down a few flights of stairs and you’ll probably help to burn up that energy.

Because I think a lot of times people don’t realize, particularly when you’re in a panic attack and things like that, you’re having adrenaline dump and all of this other stuff. And like, you need to like get through that energy. And that’s why it feels bad. Cause like, this is what your body is doing. Is it saying, oh, there’s a bear! Let’s dump all of this energy into you. Cause you need to be able to run really fast or something. And it’s like in our modern day society, it’s not a bear that is freaking us out. It’s a presentation I have to do for work. Like that’s the thing. 

Emma: Makes it really hard to discharge that physical energy that your body’s ready, just primed, ready to explode with, right? Yeah. 

Dr. Johnson: Right. And so it’s like, we got to get rid of it. And one of the ways to get rid of it is intense exercise. Cause if you just sit there with it, it just feels awful. You can feel the tingling under your skin. Like there’s just so many things that happen during that. And some aspects of it is natural and normal. It’s just happening at a time which is like entirely ineffective. 

Emma: Totally. Totally. Okay. So intense exercise. So, doing the stairs, jumping jacks. Do something quick. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. Pushups, doing squats. Like anything, you could go for a walk, you know, whatever it is. But you gotta like burn through the energy that you have in your system.

Emma: Yeah, I like that. I like that. And again, I like reminding the audience that these are good short-term in a crisis. And in the long run, if that’s your only skill, people can develop like exercise dependence, right, or eating disorder type stuff. So it’s like, we got to also learn how to solve problems. The goal of these skills is to get us calm enough and get us through the situation.

So that we don’t do something really stupid or make things worse. And then we can come back to a problem, face it and solve it. Right? 

Dr. Johnson: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So it’s giving us that room to make it through the critical moment so we can come back and do the work that like needs to be done in this situation for sure.

Emma: Yeah, that’s setting boundaries or solving a problem or looking at your calendar and taking things out of your calendar or whatever it is, you know. 

Dr. Johnson: In fact, for a lot of people, if they’re having like frequent crises, you know, I’m always like, okay, yeah, but what are the events leading up to it? You know cause we’re not here to just tackle problems. We’re here to prevent problems if we can, you know, and that needs to always be our goal. 

Emma: Great. Yep. Yeah. 

Dr. Johnson: And so, so then we get to the P’s and the P stand for two different things like paired breathing and also progressive muscle relaxation. So, probably a lot of people know about breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises, and those sorts of things.

And sometimes people really minimize the power of the breath. But again, when we mention like respiration going up and things like that, well, that’s your breath. And, and how you breathe can also change your experience of a panic attack or a crisis moment. And in fact, a lot of people hyperventilate or they engage in very shallow breathing when they’re upset.

And something that I try to explain to people is when you don’t have your normal kind of respiration rate, it’s like, well, is oxygen even having enough time to get through your whole body? If you’re, you know, all the time, like hyperventilating or if you have very shallow breathing and so if you’re not getting oxygen through your whole body, well, then your body is like we’re suffocating and then your body is going to freak out, which just means that it’s going to heighten the situation that I’m in exactly.

And so, you know, I always tell people don’t minimize the power of the breath. It’s important to find different types of breathing exercises that really work for you in these sorts of situations. And then if. I would say if relaxation breathing isn’t the easiest thing for you to do, then you can swoop over into like progressive muscle relaxation or even other types of mindfulness.

So like maybe doing more gratitude based mindfulness or things like that, because I do know I get, I sometimes get patients who they’re like the moment you tell me to breathe, I can’t breathe, you know what I mean? And so then what I try to do is, we don’t have to focus on the breath. We can focus on other aspects of mindfulness and then the breath will probably catch up with it.

So like if I’m doing a loving kindness meditation with myself or if I’m just using like soundscapes, like rain or something, and I’m just focusing my mindful attention on that, probably my breathing is going to like get in line because I’m focusing in on something that is just naturally more calming for me.

And so it’s important for people to kind of be open minded about pulling in the right types of breathing exercises for themselves. I also like to let people know that breathing exercises don’t have to be long, you know? Even just doing it for one minute can be enough to start to like, bring things down.

And then in terms of progressive muscle relaxation …. 

Emma: Pause just a second.’cause I want to [inaudible] If you were to coach someone into paired breathing, what do you mean by that specifically? Like on a practical level, what would you coach them to do? 

Dr. Johnson: Sure, sure, sure. So, with the paired breathing, there’s certain components.

The basic component is just one, how to do deep breathing because a lot of people don’t know how to do that. And so normally what I will tell people to do is to make a diamond around your belly button. So, take your hands and put them together and put them around your belly button. And when you breathe in deep, you should just feel your hand move, you know, and it doesn’t have to be like a huge move, but you should feel it just rise a little bit. What happens sometimes people start breathing from up in their chest, and I don’t want you breathing from your chest when we’re doing deep breathing exercises. I want you to fill up your lungs and. If you’re filling up your lungs, you’re going to feel that in your lower belly. So, this is just what we would call belly breathing as like a basic kind of breathing thing.

So, that can be all you do. And like, that can be helpful. And so that would be like kind of the foundation. And then you can pair other things on top of it, depending on what you like. I really like to do deep breathing and then do straw breaths is what I call them, where I purse my lips and then it forces you to kind of blow out evenly and slowly.

And so that’s really calming for my system. So, I enjoy those. Some people enjoy what we call alternate nostril breathing. So they’ll hold one nostril and breathe in. And let it out. And then they’ll switch and do the other one. And, and doing that, some people will start to even notice that their breath is different on one side than the other.

And so, yeah. And so you do kind of start to figure out and get, I guess, more of a relationship with your breath, which is something good to have in a lot of different situations. So though, and you can also obviously put like imagery and things with it or music and other things to kind of intensify it. I also like keep scented candles and things like that because sometimes just doing the deep breathing and bringing in a nice aromatic scent can be very calming for your system as well. And so that’s why I always tell, when people tell me that, like, they haven’t found any sort of breathing exercise that works. I’m like, ooh, we haven’t tried enough. There’s just so many things that we can kind of and I do something, and this is just what I call it. I tell people that I want to stack your senses.

And so like, I want to pull in as many kind of calming things as possible. So if we can have like a calming visual, a calming aroma, we’ve got the breathing going, like as many of those things as we can breathe it, bring in, that’s going to intensify the relaxation effect for most people. 

Emma: I love it. I love it. And from a nervous system perspective, these are all turning on that parasympathetic response. 

Dr. Johnson: Yes. 

Emma: That soothing your body’s natural calming response. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah, because they can’t both be active at the same time. And so it’s like, you know, if I’m trying to turn off the sympathetic, I got to turn on [inaudible] 

Emma: it’s an active, active step. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. And I always, you know, I’m glad you brought that up. Cause I use the word system a lot, you know, in general, but It’s very important for people to understand their system. Like, what turns on my sympathetic nervous system, you know, what turns on my parasympathetic, like, and in doing these explorations of different crisis skills, you’ll start to get a deeper understanding and relationship with these things.

So you’ll be able to like think, “Oh, that’s something that’s going to be bad for my sympathetic.” And then you can even cope ahead sometimes for certain situations and maybe prevent a crisis or a panic attack like from happening. And then the more of a relationship of you understanding your parasympathetic.

So even what I just said about myself and using sense, I use that because I know how much I respond to like really good smells that I like. You know, and like, and how it helps me to focus in on the relaxation, you know, and like, and I try to always do that. I rarely do like deep breathing, like just on, unless I’m just out in the streets, then I do it, but if I’m at home, there’s always going to be a candle or something that I pair with it because it intensifies it for me. And it calms down my system a lot faster. 

Emma: That’s awesome. That’s great. Great advice. Okay. And then you said you were, you were moving into, before I interrupted you, progressive muscle relaxation. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. So progressive muscle relaxation, you when you do that, you also do that with the deep breathing or the paired breathing as well. And with that, what you’re doing is you’re tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. Because another thing that’s true with panic and also with crises is we carry a lot of tension in our bodies. You know, for me, it’s my shoulders. Like my shoulders, they’re never relaxed. Whenever I see my personal trainer, they’re like, relax your shoulders. And I’m like, I don’t know what that means. I don’t think my shoulders have ever been relaxed. 

Emma: You’re, like, making me think about how tight my shoulders are right now. And I’m like, okay, let’s do this. Let’s tense them and relax them. 

Dr. Johnson: And this is another thing in terms of being aware of your own body and system. These are the types of things we’ll swipe left on, right? Because you’re so used to carrying the tension in your shoulders and you’re like, oh, whatever. But like, what if I just took a, like a minute or two and just said, “Okay, I’m gonna tense and [inaudible} using the shoulders specifically, tensing them means pulling them up to your ears and holding them there while you’re doing, and then with the deep breathing on the out breath, what I usually like to do is say, relax to myself and then slowly let the tension just like melt.

And like, this is usually the only moment that I get to feel what my shoulders feel like relaxed, because I’m being very intentional about it. And when I let out that out breath really slow, and I’m saying that relax to myself in my mind, I really intentionally let my shoulders drop. So, I can feel that kind of, relief sensation.

It’s very hard to describe in words, you know what it is, but you do feel like the difference of like, oh wait, like this is relaxed? 

Emma: And it’s funny. Cause if you’re sitting there tense and you just think relaxed, you’re like, what does that even mean? I can’t like, but there’s something about leaning into it. And then loosening that you can kind of get a better feel for what that’s like, right? 

Dr. Johnson: Absolutely. And you can do progressive muscle realization from your fingers to your toes. Like you can tense your feet and relax them. The face is always a really comical thing to do. And a lot of people carry a lot of tension in their face, too, in your jaw, in your forehead. I’ve taught myself in times where I’ve gotten in a car and my brow is furrowed and I’m just like, and I’m looking in the windshield, like, was I like this all day? You know? And so I will even say too, when we’re talking about kind of these, these unaware crisis states that we can be in, that we swipe left on.

Like sometimes people can be reacting to you poorly and you don’t know why. And it’s because you’ve been walking around like looking, right, stank face all day, you know, and then people don’t know how to take it. And you know, but I, but I’ve had times where like I had that stank face and then I’ll just sit for a minute and I relaxed my facial muscles and then I do that and I’m like, oh my God, I feel so much more calm letting the forehead drop. Letting the jaw kind of like relax and just feeling that kind of sensation. 

Emma: Just thinking about relaxing is making me yawn a little bit. Like just thinking about relaxing my face, I yawn a little bit, which it means you just talking about relaxing is triggering my parasympathetic response just a little bit.

Dr. Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. And so, yeah, that’s one of the ways, and for anyone who’s new with progressive muscle relaxation, there’s lots of tutorials on how to do it. You can find scripts that kind of talk you through how to tense and relax like each individual muscle, you know and it’s, again, it’s something that anybody can do.

Emma: Love it. That’s awesome. Okay. Well, thanks so much for sharing that with us, TIPP skill. It’s really [inaudible]. Something handy people can take with them for moments of crisis. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah. And, you know, depending on what you’re into, you can use all parts of it. You can kind of say, oh, I’m a temperature fan, you know?

And so, yeah, it provides you with something regardless of kind of where you’re at and your crisis survival skills. 

Emma: Great. I love it. Cool. Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Dr. Johnson for joining us today. Really excited to learn more of these skills with you and really appreciate your time. 

Dr. Johnson: Yeah, thank you so much.

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