Have you been feeling anxious, uncomfortable, or irritable?
It’s safe to say that the pandemic has had an impact on all of us. We’ve all experienced feelings of anxiety and being unsettled as we navigate through a time where there have been a lot of unknowns. These unknowns affect us personally, professionally, and in other ways that cause us to actively engage or in some cases disengage from our emotions. You may start to notice feeling anxious, uncomfortable, or irritable.
What is a Window of Tolerance?
A window of tolerance is most notably described as a person’s “window” of optimal arousal in which you are able to function and deal with day-to-day stressors. Most people can deal with their daily stressors without much difficulty, but sometimes we need a little help in maintaining our windows. Events like traumas, anxieties, or other mental issues can often make it difficult to thrive and remain in our Window of Tolerance.
Your Window of Tolerance is the place where you feel balanced, calm, able to handle life’s challenges without difficulty, and the place where your functionality is optimal.
Think of being in your window as the place where you feel most grounded and able to regulate your emotional states.
What does it mean to be hypo or hyper aroused?
When our balance is thrown off by traumas, anxieties, or excessive stressors it puts us in a state of dysregulation known as hypo/hyperarousal. This presents itself as the “Fight or Flight” response as our bodies gear up to protect us outside of our window.
Hyperarousal can easily be recognized as an increased experience with anxiety, panic, fear, anger, or defensiveness. This often impairs our daily functioning making it hard for us to sleep, eat, concentrate, or manage our emotions in a healthy way.
Hypoarousal, on the other hand, is completely opposite of hyperarousal. It is associated with feelings of shame, lack of energy, or numbness also impacting your ability to sleep and express yourself. It can also affect your appetite and emotional processing.
How do I cope with these feelings?
There are many techniques that can be used to help you regulate your emotions when you are feeling hypo/hyper aroused, including:
The first one that comes to mind is to breathe. Deep breathing can bring you back into your window when you are feeling anxious or triggered. Breathing in through your nose and counting to five, then breathing out through the mouth for a count of five can help calm you. C’mon let’s try it!
Mindfulness is another great way to help bring you back into your window. Taking a moment to acknowledge how you’re feeling in the here and now, and observing what ’s coming up for you can help you tune into yourself. This can help you become more aware of your triggers and this is the first step toward managing them instead of acting on them (Fight, Face It, Flight, Freeze). Being open, accepting and present to each moment as you’re experiencing them can help you deal with stressors and your emotions by allowing those moments to pass by acknowledging them, but not reacting to them.
Physical activity is another great way to naturally release some happiness chemicals into your system. Any exercise that you feel comfortable doing can help release “happy chemicals” and help increase feelings of happiness, focus, and motivation to name a few. Take a walk in nature and appreciate the smells, the sounds, and the visuals all around you.
Journaling is also a great way to acknowledge the feelings that are activated at any given time. Grab a piece of paper and pen, or a tablet… anything you can write on when you’re feeling like you could lose your cool. Writing from this heightened state can help you process those thoughts and feelings and gain a little perspective in the process as you get back to your window.
Challenge yourself when you notice negative feelings popping up. Image what someone special to you would say, and try to hear the kinder voice help balance those negative thoughts. As a bonus if you have access to play calming music like ocean waves or the rain as an example, close your eyes and visualize your happy place. Lighting a scented candle to appeal to your senses can also soothe your senses as you work to get back into your window.
If this resonates with you and you want to discuss getting back into your window of tolerance, we are here to help! Contact us for a free consultation today!