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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Harris, PsyD

How to Master Easy and Effective Emotion Regulation Skills with TIPP

Our emotions often act as the compass guiding our responses and decisions. However, sometimes these emotions can spiral out of control, overwhelming us in moments of distress. It is during these times that having a set of tools for emotional regulation becomes invaluable. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, offers a comprehensive toolkit for managing emotions, and one such tool is the TIPP skill.

TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It’s designed to help individuals quickly and effectively regulate their emotions when they are experiencing intense distress.

A woman looking frustrated on a crowded train

For example, you are riding the “L” in Chicago, running late to work, and you hear on the speaker, “Your attention please. We are being delayed due to equipment on the tracks. We hope to be moving shortly.” You might be flooded with a rush of rage, panic, or intense frustration with the person playing music from an external speaker as you are stuck on the tracks, becoming later to work. This is a moment that you will benefit from having some emotion regulation skills.  

Let’s delve into each component of TIPP and understand how to apply the skills into our daily lives.

Temperature: Have you ever noticed how a cold splash of water on your face can jolt you out of an emotional funk? Temperature plays a significant role in regulating our emotions. When we’re overwhelmed, our body temperature can rise, contributing to increased stress levels. Conversely, cooling down can help soothe our nerves. Here’s how you can use temperature to your advantage:

  • Splash cold water on your face or hold an ice pack against your cheeks.

  • Take a cold shower or splash cold water on your wrists.

  • Use a fan or open a window to let in cool air.

Intense Exercise: Physical activity is a potent tool for regulating emotions. Exercise releases endorphins, our body's natural mood lifters, which can help combat feelings of anxiety and depression. Engaging in intense exercise can help channel your emotions in a constructive manner. Here are some ideas for incorporating intense exercise into your routine:

  • Go for a brisk walk or jog.

  • Do a high-intensity workout routine, such as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or Tabata.

  • Engage in a sport or activity that you enjoy, such as basketball, swimming, or dancing.

Paced Breathing: Our breath is intimately connected to our emotional state. When we are stressed or anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid, exacerbating feelings of panic. Paced breathing techniques can help calm the nervous system and bring about a sense of relaxation. Try the following breathing exercise:

  • Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes.

  • Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.

  • Hold your breath for a count of four.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of six.

  • Repeat this cycle several times, focusing on the rhythm of your breath.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: When we are stressed, our muscles tense up, contributing to physical discomfort and exacerbating feelings of anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to promote physical and mental relaxation. Follow these steps to practice progressive muscle relaxation:

  • Start by tensing the muscles in your toes and feet for a few seconds.

  • Release the tension and allow your muscles to relax completely.

  • Move on to your calf muscles, thighs, abdomen, chest, arms, and so on, gradually working your way up to your head and neck.

  • Focus on the sensation of relaxation spreading through your body with each muscle group you release.

Check out this longer guided progressive muscle relaxation for more practice.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script
Download PDF • 30KB

By incorporating these four components into your daily routine, you can build a robust foundation for emotional regulation. Whether you’re grappling with overwhelming emotions or simply seeking to maintain a sense of balance in your life, TIPP can serve as a valuable ally on your journey toward emotional wellness.


Practice these skills regularly, learn which ones are more effective for you or in what situations are you more likely to use one skill over another. Remember, like any skill, mastering TIPP takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of your emotional landscape. With dedication and perseverance, you can harness the power of TIPP to lead a more balanced and fulfilling life. If you’d like to work on these skills and learn others, reach out here to connect with one of our therapists.


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