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Ice, Ice Baby…

81XpXBzo2cL__SL1500_Here is a coping mechanism that is sometimes taught to people who have BPD and/or other mental health diagnosis that include aggression. The technique I am talking about is cooling your extremities. This can be done in multiple ways.

The most common way is to hold an ice cube, or maybe a few of them, in your hand when you are experiencing an increased level of agitation. When ice is not available or practical, you can also let cold water run over your hands.

The reason that this works it that an increase in core body temperature increases the level of irritability in a person. When the body temperature rises, the blood vessels in our bodies open wider. When we introduce ice or another cooling agent, it lowers the temperature and causes the blood vessels to dilate.

I have experience with this technique in both a practical approach as well as an academic approach.

From a practical side I use this technique, as well as running cool/cold water over my hands, to calm myself down and  it works wonderfully for me.

I have also had some academic experience with it. Back in 2012 I attended the Yale NEA-BPD Annual Conference, the topic that year was on Impulsivity, Aggression, & Legal Involvement. One of the presenters talked about this technique.

A study was done where inmates, with violent tendencies, were taught to immerse their hands into buckets of ice when they became agitated. Inmates who used this technique showed a that their agitation level was decreased more quickly then those who did not employ the technique.

Now since most of us do not have access to buckets of ice in our day to day life, holding an ice cube, or a few, will have similar affect.

It is important to remember, not every technique works for every person, but I have found this one to be very helpful and often recommend it to others.

It appears there may be some scientific truth to the old expression, “I need to cool off”.

Posted: May 12th, 2015 under Helpful Tips.

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