Mastering the Art of Self-Regulation

author/source: Suzanne Ducharme MacFarlane, MS CCC-SLP

Photo Courtesy of Camilo Jimenez on UnsplashRecently, I have had a lot of conversations with friends, colleagues, and clients about regulation (self-regulation and co-regulation) and how to hack it in this often-overwhelming world we live in. I work with moms and babies, primarily, and this is often the core dysfunction that underlies many different issues. This is a topic I have become passionate about and would love to share more about with you.

What is regulation? At its core, it is the ability to be aware, monitor, and adapt your responses to any stressors that impact your day. Co-regulation is the ability to use your nervous system to help someone else regulate theirs. The secret is that we all face stressors all the time- the key is how easily and well you can RECOVER from whatever obstacles life throws at you. Let’s look at this in a little bit more depth:

Think of your nervous system like a volume dial.

STOP- check in with yourself. How does it feel to be in your brain and body right now? Do you feel like you are on your last nerve? Too tired and foggy to work on your to-do list? Craving gentle touch? Want some time alone? Where is your volume dial right now? Is everything coming in too “loud?”

 Photo Courtesy of Anthony TranDo any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You are trying to make dinner. Your head is pounding, and the kids are crying about homework. Your fuse is short, and you snap at everyone.
  • You are trying to get everyone out the door in the morning, and no one can find their shoes or backpack and you realize you will be late for a meeting and your car is low on gas.
  • You have the same argument you have had 1000 times with your spouse or child, and you feel guilty for yelling. 

How we navigate our daily routines is governed by our ability to self-regulate and is heavily influenced by our level of internal awareness and our understanding of our nervous system. In thinking about regulation as a volume dial; we have a “sweet spot” where things flow more smoothly, and we feel “in control.” If the dial is too high or too low, we cannot function at our best and feel like we are at the mercy of our emotions and impulses. This can have a particularly difficult effect on our relationships.

The good news is that self-regulation can be learned and mastered through the practice of observation and self-care. I have designed an innovative masterclass that will lead you on a guided journey to understand your own nervous system and how well it is regulated. And when you are able to master this critical life skill, you also become an oasis for others in your life who might need you to help co-regulate them when they are struggling, including your spouse and children. These techniques can also be used with even the youngest infants.

Getting and staying regulated can have far-reaching benefits, including better immunity, better sleep and better communication in relationships. Who wouldn’t want that?

photo courtesy of Caleb WoodsSome of the other themes we will explore together:

  • What is self-regulation?
  • Why does it matter? How does it relate to the brain and brain development?
  • How can I understand my own system?
  • How can I support my spouse or children when they are struggling?
  • How can I understand my triggers and what are the strategies for recovery?
  • What are some simple techniques for activating the vagus nerve (the master nerve)?
  • How can I communicate about what I need to people in my life?

If you feel like you can benefit from learning more about how to regulate your nervous system, drop me a message at [email protected], and I will send out the details once the dates for this class, to be offered in person and virtually, are finalized.