Co-regulation is a vital human function.
Co-regulation happens when our autonomic nervous systems attune to another person, and there is an energetic exchange that helps both creatures to get into ventral vagal, to feel safe, secure and grounded in the moment. I say creatures because while most of us think of this as person-to-person, animals can be amazing co-regulators! Before Miss Rona came to town, I co-regulated with my friends with a big hug during which we’d align our breathing, without even talking about it. Breathe in together. Breathe out together. Bellies expanding and touching…. I miss those hugs something fierce. And so I take every chance I can to co-regulate with my loved ones through voice and video, to hear their soothing tone and let it melt into my body, like butter on a hot gluten-free biscuit… If you grew up, like most of us did, not learning or knowing how to regulate your own emotions to calm and soothe your mind-body-spirit, this is a skill you can learn for yourself as an adult, and can ask safe and trusted people in your world to help you experience. Yes. Even in quarantine. The more we reach out and create opportunities to co-regulate with others, the more our nervous system starts to believe us that being with others, even and especially when we feel upset, sad, angry, out of sorts, etc is not only safe, but a vital part of being a human, and is available to us even if it wasn’t in our youth.
Relationships can be rough. Challenging. Frought. They can also be safe, secure, and ohhh so healing, as we open our hearts to believing that we can repattern our nervous systems to find the safety we need within ourselves and with others.
How to Co-Regulate in Quarantine
Co-regulation means attuning our nervous systems, our energy, with another creature (person, animal, tree, Mother Nature, someone living or passed on…) with the goal of coming back to baseline - to homeostasis to move down the Polyvagal ladder from Sympathetic activation (fight/flight) towards Ventral Vagal (safe and secure) or to move down the Polyvagal ladder from Dorsal shutdown (freeze) towards Ventral Vagal. And while yes, it’s soooo lovely to co-regulate in person, with a nice big hug, that’s not possible right now, bc Covid. I’ve shared some of my favorite ways to co-regulate at a distance, and I’d love to know yours. Maybe the language and vocal are new, but just think about when you’re feeling anxious or revved up, sad or blue, and you connect with someone else and it’s supportive for you. You feel yourself getting back to feeling okay, towards settled and grounded and safe… or maybe even towards feeling awesome. What does that person offer you that helps you regain a sense of steadiness, of groundedness? What are some ways that you can ask the ones you love to show up for you when you want/need co-regulation during this time (and always)? What are some ways you can offer co-regulation to those you love while making sure you’re taking care of yourself – interdependence, not codependence always being our goal…. how can you give from your energetic overflow? Let us know in the comments below – let’s make this space one of mutual support, community healing and growth! You are loved.