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  • Katrina Dennehy

Understanding your "Window of Tolerance"

The "window of tolerance" is a term used to describe the range of emotional states and experiences that we can manage without becoming overwhelmed (Hyperarousal) or dissociated (Hypoarousal). When we are within this window, we are able to respond to stressors in a healthy and adaptive way, which is crucial for our emotional and psychological well-being.

The window of tolerance can vary from person to person, and can even change depending on circumstances or life events. For example, if someone has experienced trauma, their window of tolerance may be narrower than someone who has not. Similarly, if someone is going through a particularly stressful time, their window of tolerance may temporarily narrow. Here are some tips for staying within your window of tolerance:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By focusing on your breath or the sensations in your body, you can bring yourself back into the present moment and reduce the likelihood of getting caught up in anxious or negative thoughts.

  2. Use grounding techniques: Grounding techniques can help you stay connected to the present moment and reduce anxiety. An example of a grounding technique is using the 5-4-3-2-1 method to focus on your senses: List 5 things you can see, 4 you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell and 1 you can taste.

  3. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself can help you stay within your window of tolerance. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

  4. Seek support: It's important to have a support system of people who can help you when you're feeling overwhelmed. Reach out a therapist if you're struggling.

  5. Monitor your stress levels: Pay attention to how you're feeling throughout the day and notice when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Remember, everyone's window of tolerance is different, and it can change depending on circumstances. It's important to be gentle with yourself and recognise when you need to take steps to stay within your window of tolerance. By practicing mindfulness, using grounding techniques, practicing self-care, seeking support, and monitoring your stress levels, you can work to stay within your window of tolerance and improve your emotional and psychological well-being.

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