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  • Writer's pictureAndi


If you are a beach person you might see warning signs about a riptide and to be extremely careful while swimming.

Riptide Definition:

Also known as “rip currents”, they occur in bodies of water with breaking waves and are channels of water that flow at a faster pace than the surrounding area. Swimmers who are Icaught in rip currents can get sucked away at speeds of up to 8 feet per second, far too fast for many swimmers to make it safely back to shore.

Google- “How to survive a Rip Tide?”:

1) Relax. Don’t fight against the tide to swim back to shore as this will exhaust you and you likely won’t make it.

2) While rip currents are strong, they are not very wide. Swim parallel to the shoreline which means sideways out of the rip current until you feel calmer waters.

3) Wave your arms and yell for help!

Getting caught in a rip current is how we feel when faced with a sudden problem or multiple problems that land all at the same time. In this circumstance, life is pulling us at a pace faster than our brains can process. Our bodies have a natural tendency to tense up, our hearts pound, our heads feel dizzy, and we can’t think clearly. We need to release the tension in some way. I have been in situations where my entire body starts shaking as I can’t control my adrenaline.

The main thing is to slow down our nervous systems. We should follow Google’s advice to get out of a riptide:

  • First, “Don’t panic!

    • Find a way to relax and calm your mind.

    • Before you do anything, picture the ocean, and take a deep breath into your chest and belly. Hold for 4 seconds then exhale fully. Repeat 4 times. Become aware of the energy shift in your body.

  • “Swim sideways out of the current” – A solution is not always needed if it’s out of your control. Don’t exhaust yourself by trying to control or repeating a process if it already did not work. Picture yourself backstroking slowly sideways out of the riptide. The good news is that emotional riptides are experienced in our minds, and we can get out of them safely. Here are a few “Backstroking” tools.

    • Most times we need to expend energy. Go for a power walk or run if you are able.

    • Adult coloring books are great, they allow us to work with colors and slow our minds down.

    • Make a survival list of the next steps needed to manage the riptide. Writing slows down our minds and seeing a list will take away the hurricane in your head and provide order. (If this is challenging, it’s a sign that you could use a coach).

    • Do the first thing on your survival list. Now you are already on your way.

  • “Wave your arms and yell for help”- It’s always OK to ask for help. Seek advice from a friend, coach, or therapist if you need it.

For parents: If you sense your child is caught in an emotional “rip current” whether it’s a family situation, something impacting them in school, sports, or issues with friends, we need to help them stay afloat while they are swimming sideways waiting for the current to subside. Talk to them but let them lead the conversation. Ask open ended questions and respect if they do not want to talk. If they are open, perhaps you can create the survival list with them. You might realize that they already are managing their situation.

As parents we tend to absorb our children’s riptides and project our own anxieties into the situation when trying to fix it for them. If your children are like mine, they do not want to hear what we have to say, they just want us to listen as a lifejacket while keeping their heads above the water. This is a huge test of patience for me, and in all transparency, I continue to take Do Overs in this area. I’ve also learned from experience and from other parents, that children tend to be way more resilient than we realize.

Most importantly, if we can teach our children when they are young to ride out the riptides, they will be equipped to manage life’s challenges as they get older. We tend to feel isolated in these situations, but I have yet to meet someone who does not have a challenge or riptide of their own.

If you are having trouble creating your survival list or your child is being pulled in a riptide, I am here to help get you all to shore.


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