Now, this technique is new to me. I was only told about it last week and I used it last night. First impressions…WOW! I had a horrid time last night. I felt crappy all day and then in the evening I just snapped…the pot was overfilled. My heart started racing, I became irritable and before I knew it, self-sabotage kicked in. I was saying hurtful things to my partner, thinking that he would leave me as a result. It got worse and worse, there was no getting through to me. I’d say it was the worse I’d been in a VERY long time.
When we’re experiencing a crisis, our brains are in a very high state of emotional arousal and, during these times, our brains do not function properly. This explains why normally, especially with me, when we have a crisis, any tools we have learnt might be rendered useless because our brain doesn’t think of them, or at least steers away from them…self-sabotage.
So many times I’ve wished that there was a reset button, something to turn me off and back on again, like a toy that’s not working as it should. All animals have a reflex known as the “mammalian diving reflex’ which causes something called the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to kick in, which causes our body to relax and calm now. This reflex is activated by ICY water, not freezing, on the face. Sometimes, we splash our faces when we’re stressed or anxious – this is a similar idea but runs deeper. For this “diving reflex” to work, we must make sure that the icy cold water hits, or comes into contact with, the part of our face that’s just below the eyes and above the cheekbones.
The following was recommended to me for when I’m experiencing a crisis or in a high state of emotional arousal:
- Fill a bowl with cold icy water
- Lean over the bowl
- Hold your breath
- Lower your face into the water for no more than 30 seconds
- Ensure that the most sensitive part of your face, below the eyes and above the cheekbones, is in contact with the water
From my experience, and what I have heard from others, this technique is very effective, quick and calmed me down immediately! If you don’t like the idea of submerging your face in the water, icy gold face gel masks work too but I prefer the bowl method.
If, like me, you feel you might be in too much of a ‘state’ to grab a bowl and do this yourself, it might be worth sharing this with someone who lives with you. For example, I’ve told my partner about this technique and it was him who filled the bowl up, chucked in some ice and convinced me to try it out. I’m glad I did and I’ll definitely be using it in the future!
A word of warning
By activating the reflex, you will slow your heart rate, so anyone with heart problems should avoid this. Also, anyone with an eating disorder should also avoid this as it is dangerous for weak hearts.