Watch video: Feeling extreme stress? Try the diver's reflex.

September 27, 2023 Swedish Behavioral Health Team

In this article: 

  • A Swedish behavioral health expert explains the diver's reflex, a technique that can help us calm ourselves during times of high stress or panic. 
  • Applying a cold, wet cloth to our face and neck; dipping our face in cold water; or even jumping in a cold shower sends a message to our parasympathetic nervous system to help slow our heart rate and breathing.
  • The technique can be a quick reset for a hyper-aroused nervous system.  

When we are under high stress or in a panic, our heart rates and breathing quicken, making it difficult to calm down and think clearly. In this short video, Courtney Lavadia, an integrated behavioral health expert at Swedish, explains how we can utilize the diver's reflex, a technique that can help us calm down by applying cold temperatures to our body to help relieve the physical symptoms of extreme stress.

Learn more and find a provider

If you have questions about behavioral health services or would like to schedule an appointment, contact Swedish Behavioral Health. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options.

Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction, and follow up as needed. If you need to find a provider, you can use our provider directory.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Additional resources

Watch video: Get outside for a natural mood boost

Watch video: Do you struggle with distracting thoughts?

Watch video: Feeling stressed out? Try this relaxation exercise

Watch video: Breathe. A Swedish expert shares some mindfulness guidance

Integrated approach targets both physical and mental health | The Seattle Times

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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About the Author

Whether it's stress, anxiety, dementia, addiction or any number of life events that impede our ability to function, mental health is a topic that impacts nearly everyone. The Swedish Behavioral Health Team is committed to offering every-day tips and clinical advice to help you and your loved ones navigate mental health conditions.

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