Window of Tolerance

This blog is about how we can gain a sense of purpose and personal control when the world around us appears out of control.

Trauma is a psychological experience even when the traumatic event causes no bodily harm. Traumatic events exact a toll on the body as well as the mind. It is fair to say that the impact of the current pandemic, and limited ability many of us to affect the situation, means that we may feel more out of control than we usually do.

The Window of Tolerance

I have been teaching and supporting teams in Health Care to gain an understanding of an idea called the “Window of Tolerance” as well as gain insight into their own “window” and that of others. The Window of Tolerance is a term used to describe a Zone of Arousal within which a person is able to function in an OK way.

Tip over the top of the window into “Hyperarousal” and we are potentially feeling out of control, over stimulated and unable to think straight. Tip below the bottom of the window into “Hypoarousal” we may struggle to get up and be in the world, the world is too much; we usually want to hide away and may have limited motivation.

The Window of Tolerance in the Pandemic

Recognising Hyperarousal and Hypoaraousal - What front line staff said and did about it

The information in the following diagram is based purely on conversations I have had with people working in the front line. This is what I have noticed in relation to Levine, Ogden and Siegal’s model.


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