Are You Flooding? You can learn to reduce your stress and increase your peace
Flooding is a natural stress response – the feeling you get when your heart is pounding, you can’t think, can’t speak, you can’t tell a story from beginning to end, and you can’t sequence anything.
Flooding, as defined by John Gottman and interpreted by Andra Medea, is the adrenaline rush that accompanies stress, that triggers upset response, and sends blood to your feet.
As you study and practice the BALM, you will learn how to correct your flooding response. You will be able to assess when your emotions are in charge and you need to apply calming techniques and large muscle movements to bring yourself back to center.
Flooding is contagious. Someone who is struggling with a loved one’s substance use disorder tends to flood a lot. Then the people around them will flood even more. It’s very contagious so you must know how to de-escalate the flooding.
Here are some tips provided by Medea.
To control flooding in yourself:
Watch for physical symptoms first.
Is your head pounding? Is your heart racing? Short breaths, sweaty palms, dry mouth? Make a list of your personal signs. Check your list when you’re under stress. It is more important than yelling at someone.
Watch for mental symptoms.
Are your thoughts jumbled? Are you thinking in circles? Are you unable to see options, sequence, or handle math? Watch out for sudden inarticulation, disjointed speech, or suggestibility.
Use large muscles.
Go out for a walk, do jumping jacks, or swing arms in windmills.
Reverse the symptoms.
If you’re having short breaths, breath deep and slow. If your fists are clenched, open your hands and stretch your fingers.
Focus on specifics.
Slow the pace. List facts and read them to focus your mind.
When you can’t break free from flooding at that moment.
In cases you can’t break free from the flooding at that moment, acknowledge that you can’t stop thinking and arguing. Tell them that you’d like to talk at a later time, leave, and regroup. Try again after you have repeated the earlier steps.
Prepare in advance.
If you feel a tough situation is coming, practice taking yourself out of flooding. Develop resistance to flooding or you can train yourself to snap out of it.
To handle flooding in others:
Watch out for symptoms.
Flushed face, pulsing veins, or disjointed sentences.
Don’t talk to them since they can’t hear you.
Let them talk. Give them time to vent. Ask sequence questions in a low, calm tone: What happened first? What happened next?
Don’t crowd them.
Don’t touch, don’t make fast movements. If they want to leave, let them leave.
Be prepared for thinking problems.
Don’t give complicated directions to someone who is flooding. Keep it simple or wait until they calm down.
Use short, clear sentences.
For chronic cases, talk about pain control, not anger control.
Work on yourself first.
Flooding is very contagious. So is calm. Everytime you move yourself from flooding to calm you influence those around you.
Remember that flooding happens to everyone, in different ways, with different symptoms for each person. No one has immunity over it. We are wired for this. When it hits, be prepared to bring yourself out of it so you can increase the peace in your life.
The BALM® program teaches people with loved ones suffering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD), other use disorders, or mental health challenges practical tips on how to manage flooding and communicate in a loving and effective manner.
Join our online retreat on February 26-28, 2021 where you will learn how to reduce flooding in your life! Participate in an awesome experience as we integrate activities such as meditation, journaling, and more with the practical, powerful 7 Steps to Be A Loving Mirror. Meet others who are learning to practice this method. Group and One-on-One Coaching to help you prepare for your next BALM® conversation will be available during the retreat as well.