During this time of global pandemic and social distancing, you might be feeling some anxiety, zoom-fatigue, and loneliness. Well, you aren’t alone. Our friends at Boston University send this note about how to take care during this time.
Our window of tolerance is the optimal window our body and mind has that allows us to handle and manage day-to-day tasks, communicate effectively, understand ourselves and the world around us, and thrive. All of us have different windows of tolerance depending on our wiring, past experiences, mental health conditions, and intersecting identities. I might get really triggered, stressed, and overwhelmed by a certain YouTube video, while someone else may be able to handle that just fine—or their response might be to numb and emotionally shut down.
Here are some accessible ways to bring yourself into, or keep yourself in, your window of tolerance:
- Place your hands on your belly (if that feels comfortable). Pretending your stomach is a balloon, inhale and feel the belly expand. As you exhale, allow the stomach to deflate. See if you can lengthen your exhales, breathing out for longer than you breathe in. This helps to calm the nervous system.
- Play the five senses game: Name five things you can see, four things you can touch (then actually touch them), three things you can hear (listen carefully), two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- If being in the present moment is too hard for any reason, distraction is our friend. Make a list of healthy distractions for you, whether it’s a favorite YouTube video, a song you can dance to, a snack you can eat, a friend you can call, or an easy task like organizing your desk.
- Get to know your triggers, and make a plan for if and when you have to encounter them.
- Social media and the news can be quite hard right now. Can you allow yourself a break if that is leading you down too many stressful rabbit holes?
- Make deep breathing fun (who says we have to be little kids to breathe like a bumblebee?).
- Set boundaries. One of the hardest things to do, especially in this time of feeling increased pressure to do more and more to prove our worth. (PSA: You are worthy as you are.) Yet, when we are overwhelmed and burnt out, there is no way of showing up properly for anyone else, much less for yourself. Use your vacation days. Use any free time you may have doing things that nourish you.
- Check in with your self talk, the internal narrative we’re all constantly having with ourselves. Be gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself in a way you would talk to a friend—with compassion, love, empathy.”
What a great reminder! At Sunrise, we emphasize with our students and our staff the importance of taking care of yourself so that we can all “show up properly” for each other. We encourage each student to practice the DBT skill Self-soothe and create a self-soothe kit that they can access anytime during the day.