The Importance of Regulating in Times of Uncertainty
We are all living through uncertain times today, with the pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill. We do not know when it will end or what shall happen tomorrow. Some say it is like living through a war, where our forefathers had to actually fight, there was rationing and various restrictions, while today, we are just asked to be home, and we have to socially distance and isolate ourselves.
In a world where technology has taken over, people are more attached to their phones than people, and as we have to socially distance now what shall happen? Worst case scenario, we get more attached to technology and distant from humans… best-case scenario, we appreciate each other more, and we appreciate social interactions and no longer take anything for granted.
There is so much information about the virus what do you orient towards? At the same time, there is so much incongruence within the media that disorients us more. There are many reminders for our safety such as social distancing and washing hands. Other reminders to motivate us to stay inspired, take this time out to think about what you want as a normal, whatever that may mean once this is over. However, how are we all dealing with this? It is so real, yet there is not much information about helping us deal with it. Our physiology has been activated consciously and subconsciously.
We need to acknowledge our fears and worries in times of uncertainty. It’s ok to be scared. When we lose ourselves, we affect our vagus nerve. Our vagus nerve helps in initiating the body’s relaxation and strengthening the regulatory capacity within us. To activate our vagus nerve, we have to take deep breaths in.
When we get scared, we orient out of ourselves in order to find something to hold onto, we look for a sense of normality, externally like social media when we should learn to orient within as this will bring us our safety. Orienting externally brings about a lot of confusion due to the incongruence.
We can access our internal sense of safety through regulation. Regulation is a moment of mindfulness. The goal isn’t to be calm, it is to be connected to yourself in whatever emotional state you are experiencing. Do not avoid the emotions you experience. When we are scared, we disconnect from ourselves and as a result, lose ourselves. When we are regulated we can think clearly and logically.
Regulation is crucial at this time as within this level of uncertainty we can lose ourselves. We mentally think of all the ‘what if’ scenarios within a state of the unknown. It is important to remain connected to ourselves as we are getting emotionally flooded.
Some of the ways in which we can regulate are:
- Deep breaths– many times at a go and throughout a day. These deep breaths help in telling yourself that I am safe, internally and externally.
- Coldwater– if you find you are over activated and anxious, splashing cold water on your face, mouth up to your forehead helps you relax. It helps you reconnect to yourself and activates your vagus nerve.
- Movement– it is essential for the activation and stimulation of the nervous system.
- Pushing on parts of your body– by pushing and pressing on parts of your body be it on our head, your arms, legs, giving yourself a hug reminds our self that we are present within our bodies.
- Connecting with others– by being connected with ourselves and then we can connect with others, it brings about activation of everyone’s nervous system and the energy is being shared around. They start off by borrowing your regulated nervous system and end up regulating themselves. You end up becoming an external regulator.
Can we be honest with what is going on and still be connected to ourselves at the same time? I believe so. We need to be honest and respond but control our reaction. By modelling regulation to the people around us, they grab onto the energy and pass it onto others. The more you orient internally the more you can rest.
Everyone’s story is different and we handle stress in different ways. We have the stress and fear of the unknown. Many of us are parents and our children are watching us as we handle this uncertainty and questioning our every move.
Regulation helps us understand ourselves more, in turn, we can help our children learn to regulate themselves. We need to be the guide for our children and find ways in which we can help support their nervous system and teach them to regulate as we seem to be living in a new world where our mental wellbeing and understanding of ourselves is crucial for our survival.
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