day. clear mind 🔵. open heart 💚. stable belly 🟧. now THIS is me.
In this selfcare blog, my definition of wellbeing is a regulated state. To regulate is to control. This can mean that a regulated state is a controlled state. Our internal body temperature is regulated. The autonomic (automatic) nervous system controls the internal temperature. Too hot? Sweat is an indicator that it’s time to problem solve for heat (take off or change clothing, find shade, change room temperature, turn on a fan, take off blankets, tell a story in your mind about heat that contributes to problem solving). Shivering? – an indicator that it’s time to problem solve for cold (put on clothes, find warmth in the sun if available, turn up the heat in a room, find evidence to tell a mind story that the warmth of a space can be problem solved).
Generally speaking, in day humans have multiple opportunities to problem solve and self regulate for personal comfort as it relates to temperature.
Consider the intelligence that contributes to a body’s natural way of regulating its internal temperature. With exceptions such as fever or hypo/hyperthermia, do you ever wake up and have to do anything to adjust your internal temperature? It regulates itself.
Is it possible to think about one’s internal set point of wellbeing in the same way one relates to their internal temperature?
The human can identify its level of comfort, understand conditions contributing to one’s level of comfort, and continually problem solve and adapt to manage one’s level of comfort. As it relates to internal temperature, there is a standard set point @ 98.5. As it relates to one’s equilibrium/balance/homeostasis there is a standard set point of wellbeing: not too much, not too little, just right or…enough. The human can identify, understand, and manage indicators that show up and disrupt one’s regulated state of balance, or wellbeing.
What happens if the story you tell – the beliefs you hold onto that guide your thinking, contribute to playing out a life story that resonates with the opposite of enough. Meaning, no matter what you think, feel, say or do, it will never be enough.
Here is what’s weird. As long as we are alive, what we think, feel, say or do can only be enough, yet will never be final. There will continually be a need to problem solve and change, and the discomfort of thoughts, feelings, and impulses are the indicators that lead to the better outcomes.
In schools, there is a simple strategy to support self regulation named the Zones of Regulation. Let’s suggest that self-regulation includes managing thinking, feeling, and behaving (impulses of energy that lead to what one says/doesn’t say, or what one does/doesn’t do).
In this visual, the Zones is related to a normal distribution. The Green Zone represents a regulated state of wellbeing. The Yellow Zone represents the discomfort that shows up to get one’s attention – indicators (like warning lights in a car). The Red Zone indicates fast moving energy that can result in an external expression of the stress response (fight, run) that can cause harm to self or others; the Blue Zone indicates slow or dull energy that results in internal expression of the stress response (freeze, somatization) that can cause harm to self or others. The graph represents a range between the extremes.
In Quiet Time, one becomes the noticer of the inside world of thoughts, sensations, and impulses that guide action. One is also the noticer of what it feels like to be regulated. One begins to recognize that there is an inherent sense of a balanced or regulated state of being in day. Extreme conditions can happen, and we can tell a story that when they do happen, we are equipped to move toward them. Day does not have to be extreme. Day can be mostly balanced (green zone), with indicators that show up to get our attention (too much? Headed toward red zone? Need to take a break, get a drink, change the story?… or too little? Headed toward blue zone? Need to rest, eat something, change the story?).
We can regulate to our set point when we know what it is. What does enough feel like? When it comes to day living, traumatic life experiences can disrupt our connection to green zone living as it is accessed through the pathway of safety and security.
A great visual I learned from the book What Happened to You is to think of trauma like wreckage. The wreckage can be cleaned up one piece at a time. Every positive, life giving interaction can contribute to cleaning up the wreckage. No one can do it for you, and it cannot be forced. If those who have the capacity to maintain a mostly regulated state, DO regulate and be intentional about green zone living, then they are contributing to more space and more opportunities for those who are putting their pieces back in place.