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Window of Tolerance

A few weeks ago our air conditioner stopped working. Temps were teetering around 90 degrees. The kids were home from school and my wife, who works outside all day, wants to come home to a cool home. We were able to get it fixed within the week. If the problem would of persisted, we may have gone out of our window of tolerance.

The window of tolerance is the space between hypo-arousal(freeze response) and hyper-arousal(fight/flight). If we are in the window of tolerance our prefrontal cortex is running the show which allows us to make logical decisions, accurately process information, and work through daily stress. When we are out of the window of tolerance our decisions are chaotic and rigid, based out of the perception of danger. Being outside of the window of tolerance can lead to anxiety and depression.

Windows of tolerance varies across the board. Those that effectively manage stress and life stressors tend to have a large window of tolerance. Those who deal with extreme stress or a victim of trauma tend to have smaller window due to the perception of their safety is in jeopardy. These concerns are very valid.

To expand the window, breathing exercises and mindfulness are proven to be helpful. Working with a therapist to process trauma in a healthy and effective way is a proven option as well.

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