The programmable Virtual EMDR Session Tool works great for eliminating fearful, anxious or traumatic emotions, removing compulsive and addictive behavior, and unlocking your brain’s inner ability to overcome grief and loss.
But sometimes you don’t need the full power of an EMDR session and just want to find a way to calm down and get through a tough emotional roller coaster of a day. Or perhaps you simply don’t have the time, or you’re not in an ideal location, to do an online Virtual EMDR self-administered therapy session.
If you’re in a pinch and struggling with difficult, powerful, or overwhelming emotions, we want to teach you a couple of EMDR-inspired techniques to arrest your feelings of discomfort and get your head cleared up so you can get on with the business of life.
First, we will walk through a concentration exercise based on a technique found in the ground-breaking therapeutic skills training book, Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation.
Second, we will look at a basic breathing technique design to shut-down the fight-or-flight portion of your brain that is responsible for the unpleasant feelings you have swirling around inside you.
If you’re pressed for time, you may choose to do just one, but if you have a little more time, it is recommended that you walk through both exercises back-to-back to maximize their impact.
You can use these techniques anytime during your day. This entire process only takes about five minutes. You can even do this sitting at your desk, in the rest room at work (certainly not the ideal choice, but nonetheless), in your car, or you can step outside the office and find a place you can sit outdoors.
Let’s get started by working through the concentration exercise designed to help you focus your attention on the here and now.
Here’s how you do it:
-Wherever you are notice three objects nearby and pay close attention to their details. Let your eyes sit on each object and describe three aspects of each object out loud. Say, for example, “It is grey, it is shiny, it is square,” when describing the couch cushion in front of you.
-Now stop and listen-notice three different sounds. Name three characteristics of the sound out loud to yourself. So for the air conditioner in the room, you might say, “it is whirring, it is quiet, and it is calming.” Any sounds will do. If you can’t find three sounds, try two or even just one-whatever it takes to orient your mind to the present moment.
-Now touch three objects in the room. Describe out loud to yourself how they feel. Are the objects soft and silky, or maybe hard and cold? Are they smooth or rough?
-Lastly, return back to the first three objects that you noticed visually-concentrate on being present in the room with these three objects. Listen again to the sounds you noticed before-concentrate on being here and now with those sounds. Lastly, use the objects you touched and be present with those.
By this time you should be feel pretty tuned in to what’s going on around you. If you had been angry about something, or fearful, or experiencing other difficult emotions, you may notice that they have subsided somewhat.
Now let’s finish with a couple minutes of careful deep breathing. This breathing exercise is designed to calm down and release your amygdala, which is an area of your brain that plays a key role in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger, and even pleasure. This breathing exercise is based in-part on the Session Closure and Reevaluation Phases at the end of a Virtual EMDR Session.
Let’s get started. We are going to do 10 breaths. Now, find a place where you can sit comfortably. You may close your eyes if you want.
Breathe in through your nose into your belly, not into your chest. Then, whenever it feels natural, let the breath fully out through your mouth. That’s one.
Do it again-in through your nose into your belly. Out through your mouth. Count off in your head-two.
Repeat this process for breath number three, and then breathe four. Keep going-in through your nose and into your belly. Out through your mouth. Count the breath number in your head.
Continue this breathing and counting process through breaths five-to-nine.
Your tenth and final breath will be a little bit different. Breathe in through your nose as deeply as you can and then hold your breath! Hold your breath as long as you comfortably can.
When you are ready, exhale forcibly through your mouth with a long and forceful whooshing until your lungs are completely empty.
That’s it-you’re done.
You should be feeling much better now-calmer, more centered, relaxed, and present. Whatever the issue that was bothering you before should feel more distant, manageable, and less emotionally powerful.
You can repeat the concentration exercise and the ten deep breaths anytime you feel hijacked by your emotions. Practice regularly and you will be able to better control negative emotions as soon as they happen.