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Are You Flooding? You can learn to reduce your stress and increase your peace

BALM, BALM 7 Steps Online Retreat | May 5, 2021
Managing Flooding: A Practical Step to Recovery

Flooding is a natural stress response – the feeling you get when  your heart is pounding, you can’t think, you 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 counteract that flooding response. You will be able to assess when your emotions are in charge and you will learn how to apply calming techniques and large muscle movements to bring yourself back to center. 

Flooding is contagious and family members who have a loved one struggling with substance use disorder tend to flood a lot. Then the people around them will tend to flood also.  Because flooding is contagious, it is important to know how to de-escalate the flooding.

Here are some tips provided by Medea. 

To control flooding in yourself:

Watch for physical symptoms. 

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 where you can’t break free from the flooding, simply 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 previous steps.

Prepare in advance. 

If you feel a tough situation is coming, practice taking yourself out of flooding. Develop resistance to flooding so 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 contagious. So is calm.  Each time 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 is immune to it. 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.

Learn More about these and other coaching tools by enrolling in our Quick Guide to Family Recovery Life Coach Training. Receive 4 Videos and a PDF Blueprint to A Career in BALM Coaching.

Or call 1-888-998-2256 option 5 and an admissions representative will contact you to answer your questions and help you determine if this program is a good fit for you!