Window of Tolerance

Are you feeling wired, hyper-vigilant and awake? Panicky, fluttery in the belly, a bit shaky? Or exhausted, flat and drained?

Are you feeling wired, hyper-vigilant and awake? Panicky, fluttery in the belly, a bit shaky? Or exhausted, flat and drained?

It’s so very likely that right now many of us are in Survival Mode: our flight/fight response is ON, adrenaline is surging and we are unconsciously and consciously primed to perceive danger. This is so understandable right now. We’ve never been through this before.

Being in this state is a biological, physical and psychological response, but it takes its toll when we find we are in Survival Mode ALL THE TIME.

The Window of Tolerance is a tool designed to remind us to be aware and NOTICE when we are outside our Window of Tolerance, without judgement.

The Window of Tolerance. Concept developed by Dan Siegel. Image by Kiara Mucci.

Being inside the window means we are connected to our logic brain. We can learn new information, make clear decisions, we can feel compassion for others and listen, we can think creatively and we can also care for ourselves. It’s so important to find space in our window right now for caring for ourselves. This helps us to be able to do care for others like our children, elderly, and friends and family.

Being hyper aroused can look and feel like:
Anxiety, insomnia, sense of dread and danger, hyper aware of noise, hyper vigilance, being ‘wired’ and a bit manic, pounding chest, twitching eyes, shaking hands, irritability, anger, not being able to stop, sit down, having too many things happening in your head at once and feeling a bit out of control.

Hypo-arousal can look and feel like:
Complete and utter exhaustion, feeling numb, flat, no motivation, immobilised, depressed, sad, unable to get out of bed.

Noticing some of these experiences is important to also help figure out what HELPS US.

In these strange, kinda scary days, we invite you to take a bit of notice: are you outside your Window of Tolerance?

Most of us will probably answer yes, for each of the past days this week at least. Try not to judge yourself. Instead, try some of these practices even just for 5 minutes, when you notice some of these experiences of hyper or hypo arousal:

🌿 Moving your body is one of the best ways to bring us back into our WoT. Dance in the lounge room, do star jumps, run on the spot, stretch or do some yoga, high kicks, boxing - whatever floats your boat!

🌿 Music can shift experiences in our body. Put on your favourite song and sing! Loudly.

🌿 Write whatever is in your head, for 3 pages. Could be a menu, a to do or a journal entry. A story, a poem or just a dumping of thoughts. This exercise is known as “Morning Pages” from Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way. Writing can be a release, and calm our busy brains.

🌿 Draw. Draw ANYTHING for 5 minutes. Pen to paper, it doesn’t matter if it’s good, if it makes sense and if you’ll keep it later. Drawing has been proven to reduce stress hormones and do similar things as exercise to our brains and emotions.

🌿 Get some nature. The smell, sounds, perspective and full body experience of being near trees, ocean, mountains has a powerful affect on our psychological state.

🌿 Do a sensory, repetitive activity: knit, stitch, get some clay, some Lego! See, chop veggies, weave! All of these things are a kind of meditation that also regulate our emotional state with the sensory touch and using our hands.

🌿 Get into the garden. Reflecting on the cycle of growth, of tending to plants, pulling out weeds and watering interacts with our brain chemistry too. And it feels good too.

🌿 Headspace app has some free meditations and visualisations called ‘Weathering the Storm”

This is by no means a full list! You have to find what works for you, and it might be a whole bunch of things. Build your toolbox of strategies to bring you back into your Window of Tolerance, when you notice those experiences of distress and overwhelm.

It’s not a magic trick. It’s like noticing you are hungry, and planning what food your body needs, but also making its delicious too. Cos pleasure is part of being connected and calm too.

Take care friends.

The Window of Tolerance is a concept developed by Dan Siegel.

We host a 90 minute online workshop on The Window of Tolerance - what it is, how to use it, and how to create your own mental wellbeing plan around it. Email caitlin@therumpus.com.au for more information.

If you are in a state of extreme distress or feel in urgent need of support please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

FURTHER READING

Drawing, Making, Dancing: The Evidence for our approach

Growing research proves that creative habits make a big impact on our mental wellbeing. Read about why they make a difference, and how our programs introduce ways to explore this for our own self-care.

learn more

Helping Injured workers 'return to life'

Our Return-to-Life approach of skilling up people to find creative practices proven to regulate and reduce a range of mental health symptoms.

learn more

Our Impact in the Music Industry

Working in partnership with peak bodies in the music industry, we are delivering Mental Health First Aid training to Artist Managers

learn more

Why Play's great for mental wellness

Play isn't just for kids! It turns out, it's a vital part of being a human.

learn more

Delight as an Antidote to 2020

As we navigate the range of experiences of grief, loss and uncertainty that 2020 has brought us, let us turn to delight as an action, a tool for hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

learn more

Always Learning

National Reconciliation week has driven home just how much further we have to go in truly working towards healing.

learn more

Prescribing Creativity

Creativity is innate in all of us. And we are just beginning to understand, as a culture, the power of creative practice as a balm for grief, distress, trauma and pain

learn more

Window of Tolerance

Are you feeling wired, hyper-vigilant and awake? Panicky, fluttery in the belly, a bit shaky? Or exhausted, flat and drained?

learn more

A Dose of Nature

As we try and find a rhythm in this new way of being and living right now, try to remember to include a dose of nature, each day. It will do us all the world of good. 

learn more

Cocooning

The Irish Government are choosing to describe ‘self-isolating’ and ‘quarantine’ as Cocooning.

learn more

On Being Social

Folks, let’s talk about ‘Social Distancing’. Us humans are ‘social’ beings which means we seek and crave companionship and are suited to living in communities, yes? It’s wired into our DNA, our bones. Well, nothing about that has changed.

learn more

What is social prescribing?

“To end loneliness, you need other people—plus something else. You also need to feel you are sharing something with the other person, or the group, that is meaningful to both of you.

learn more