In an ideal world, we would all be calm, curious, connected and creative all the time. But we don’t live in an ideal world. There are many things every day, every hour, every minute that take us out of a regulated state. In this episode, I’m explaining the mechanism that gets us back to regulated: your nervous systems. Yes, plural. Listen in to gain a deeper understanding of your miraculous body, and the multiple systems working in your favor.
In an ideal world, we would all have all of our needs met as soon as those needs come up.
Imagine it: as soon as you get hungry, you feed yourself the exact nutrients the body needs. As soon as you get tired, you rest. And when you’re rested, you move.
We have needs for all kinds of things: breath, water, food (whole, happy, and healthy), sleep, connection, creativity, sunlight, authentic expression, spirituality, to be seen and understood… etc
If this were to happen, we would be very regulated. We would be in a state of homeostasis or balance. Homeostasis is defined as 1. the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. 2. In biology, homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. This is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature and fluid balance, being kept within certain pre-set limits. (citation)(citation)
We would stay in a calm, connected, creative— HAPPY place.
But. We don’t live in an ideal world.
So there are things that throw us out of a regulated or homestatic state.
Example: temperature body and thermostat
Our bodies have “set points,” a range at which we are “happy.” And our bodies are miraculous creations that are always helping us get back to this set point or homeostasis.
Like the thermostat, the mechanism that REGULATES us back to homeostasis is our nervous systems.
Isn’t it a beautiful thing!!
Explanation of the Peripheral Nervous System
If something internal or externally happens (”threat”) to take us out of homeostasis (calm, connected, creative), our nervous system will send energy into the system to activate us for movement back to homeostasis. If that doesn’t work, and the “threat” is too much, there is a mechanism that will shut down to conserve energy.
Figure 2- The nervous system is like a muscle (not a muscle) in that if we don’t spent time in calm-connected-creative, the part of the nervous system gets weakened or atrophied. And the activated or shut down parts get strengthened because they are getting used.
Now let’s add another layer of understanding here: window of tolerance.
The window of tolerance is a concept originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, MD to describe the optimal zone of “arousal” for a person to function in everyday life. When a person is operating within this zone or window, they can effectively manage and cope with their emotions.
For clients who have experienced trauma, it is often difficult to regulate emotions and the zone of arousal where they can function effectively becomes quite narrow.
- What nervous system state do you live in most of the time?
2. Is your window of tolerance large or small? Why do you think that?