Window of Tolerance

If you read last week’s post you know that being in the process of moving house is stressing me out. (Click here to catch up if you missed it.) What I’m finding is having that background stress is really reducing my window of tolerance for every day stuff.

If you’re not familiar with windows of tolerance it’s like this – when all is well and you have no aggravating factors you have a nice big, wide window that lots of things can pass through with no problem. The massive stuff is still going to be a struggle, but for the most part there’s plenty of room for things to flow. I’m talking about stress and anxiety here, but the same theory can be applied to other areas in life, such as pain.

Each time a stressor passes through your window, the window temporarily gets smaller. If lots of things get passed through in quick succession, or, as with my current situation, there is a stressor blocking part of the window longer term, the available space for more stress to pass through is diminished to the point that you are in tears because you’ve lost one your favourite socks.

At this point it’s easy to conclude that you have actually gone mad. Only a crazy person would be enraged by next doors bloody cat walking along the top of the garden wall AGAIN and winding the dog up AGAIN, right? But I haven’t lost my mind, my window of tolerance is just narrow right now.

The irony is that carrying this stress around makes you feel like crap. In my case headaches, nausea and tiredness that leads to clumsiness, leading to additional stress when I drop things, knock them over or bang my arms on door handles (does that happen to anyone else?) which just adds to the stress.

Of course there is stuff that I can do to mediate the stress – I can eat well, get exercise, spend time in nature, mediate and say no to things I don’t have the energy for, it’s all about self-care (for more ideas on handling anxiety and stress check out my free download) but it often takes me a while to get my act together enough to acknowledge the situation and take action. I am, after all, still a work in progress when it comes to this stuff.

What I have definitely got better at is not taking it out on other people and being quick to apologise when I inevitably slip up and do. After all, it is my responsibility how I act, no matter how I feel. There is no need to be a dick.

I think we can probably all relate to this – especially at the moment when it seems the whole world is upside down. Most people’s window of tolerance will be narrowed and not everyone has the same size window anyway. We can’t judge others windows by our own. We could all do with showing each other (and ourselves) a little extra grace at the moment while we recover collectively.

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