A TIPP for Distress Tolerance

Do you ever find yourself becoming overwhelmed with strong emotions and not knowing how to copeTIPP skills are a great Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) tool to help you calm down in difficult moments by directly altering your body’s physiological state.

The T in TIPP stands for temperature. You can put your face in cold water or put ice packs on your face to cool down. Doing this can reduce your heart rate and help you cool down emotionally, too. (Note: Skip this step if you have cardiac risk. If you are unsure, speak to your doctor before trying out this skill!)

The I in TIPP stands for intense exercise. Bursts of intense exercise can help to calm down your body when you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Try getting out some of that built-up energy by running, lifting weights, playing a sport, dancing, doing jumping jacks, or taking a brisk walk around the block. You don’t have to do this for long – only about 10-15 minutes. Intense exercise can wear you down and help you regulate your emotions better.

The first P in TIPP stands for paced breathing. Concentrate on taking deep breaths and slowing your breathing down – ideally to about five to six breaths per minute. Try to breathe out more slowly than you breathe in (i.e., breathe in for four seconds and breathe out for six seconds). Doing this will help slow down your heart rate and help you feel calmer in the moment.

The second P in TIPP stands for progressive muscle relaxation. You can do this from a seated position or while laying down. Start at either the top or the bottom of your body and tighten your muscles for about five seconds before letting go. This helps to loosen up your muscles and feel more relaxed. Continue down (or up) your body, tightening and relaxing one group of muscles at a time.

TIPP skills can be a lifesaver in overwhelming moments. It is helpful to practice them at a time when you are feeling okay so that you will feel more comfortable and prepared to use them when you find yourself in distress.

Have you ever used TIPP skills during a hot moment? What other things have you found helpful when trying to calm yourself down?

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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