One way to reduce emotional arousal is to get your parasympathetic nervous system to help. When people are under emotional duress, their body kicks into fight or flight mode. Emotions serve to protect us by revving up our body and preparing for disaster, threat, humiliation, or the onslaught of a problem. They wake us up to danger signals.
In some cases, people experience danger even when no danger is imminent. Have you ever logically known that a situation wasn’t threatening? For instance, there was no evidence to support your fear, but the emotional part of your brain didn’t seem to care? Or perhaps the threat was removed or resolved, but you remain on pins and needles anyway?
One way to get your emotional temperature down is to use hot and cold temperatures to change your physiological experience. Taking a hot bath or shower or using ice is one way in which people can get their parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and speed the process of lowering emotional arousal.
Here are some more specific suggestions for how to use ice:
1) Buy an ice pack (ie, for sports injuries) to keep in your freezer. When you need to decrease your emotional temperature, take it out, wrap it in a light towel, and apply it around the base of your neck or over your face/ eyes.
2) Stick your face in a basin filled with water and ice cubes.
3) Stick your foot or hand in a bucket filled with water and ice cubes.
4) Stick your hand in a snow bank, hold cold snow in your hand, or put cold snow around your neck.
For best results, don’t fight the ice. In other words, stop doing any activity that re-actives emotional arousal (ranting, arguing, obsessing, analyzing, etc.). Let the ice do the work.