“Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication”
Co-regulation is an ongoing experience of synchronizing our energy with our environments, whether we are aware of it or not.
Think about walking into a room with lots of people, heavy metal or loud music etc. How do you feel? Even thinking about it may create physiological changes in your body.
Now imagine walking a beach just before dusk, stepping into the warm sand, with the sound of the ocean waves. Did you notice any changes?
And these are just imaginary scenarios – don’t get me started on how powerful our brains and physiology are!
Did you know that every 4-7 seconds your senses (innervated by Craniosacral nerves) are scanning your environment to determine if you are in a safe space or not? This scan takes into account what we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel both internally and around us. This is super simplified, but from here our brains determine if we should respond in a parasympathetic (rest, digest, socialize) or sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) state, responding with a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters… with the neurotransmitters travelling through our Vagus Nerve (10th Craniosacral Nerve) into our organs. Our Vagus Nerve also carries information back to our brain either confirming the response or changing it – this is where co-regulation is powerful for all of us!
Have you ever noticed when you feel over-stimulate a hug from someone who makes you feel safe can melt the overwhelm away? Our heart and energy co-regulates with each other. As young as 6 weeks in utero we begin to co-regulate with our mother! This is why touch is so essential for babies and to be near their moms heartbeat in particular. A hug can also instantly calm an overwhelmed child, so we can address the concern from a parasympathetic perspective. As a parent I know sometimes when it’s been a big day (especially if you’re all highly sensitive) and maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to centre yourself, a melt-down (or maybe the 6th) can be triggering. If I don’t feel centred (calm) enough to handle it, I try to go into another room explaining I need a minute to calm down and that I will be right back… or we do breathwork together (usually just me at first)… or something silly (depending on the severity of the concern). This is how we can lead by example so our children can learn healthy tools to process their emotions. Then we can have a hug and chat to work through the concerns. This is why it’s absolutely essential we as parents make the time to practice our self-care!
Highly sensitive souls and co-regulation
If you or your child are a Highly Sensitive Soul… you are probably well aware of this, and how easily it is to get overwhelmed by all the stimuli in our 24/7 world! As adults we feel anxiety… children feel this too and young ones usually head to melt down. Our sympathetic system gets triggered, and for HSPs it gets triggered often if we don’t consciously manage our environments – this means clean, natural light, healing sounds or silence, limited screen time, lots of nature + quiet time etc… and eating well! Our boundaries and exposure to lots of people is a major trigger too for most of us, as we are absorbing all the energy, so a strong meditation practice and the ability to be aware in the moment of the energy we are absorbing to release it or remove ourselves from the situation is key. I do have a course diving more into this on the gloWithin App too… and lots of tools to help you align with your strengths, because being HSP is a strength!
Did you know we co-regulate with trees?
Taking a trip into nature can instantly calm our nervous system – try giving a tree a hug… for real! I strongly believe all of us, and especially children greatly benefit from being in the forest and nature. Not only do they gain an appreciation for it at a young age, but it’s also so healing for their grounding souls. Walking barefoot is especially grounding!
These are a few of my favourite tools to nourish our parasympathetic system (nourishing our senses), so we can set the tone for ourselves, our homes, families, and any where we go! Most of these tools you can find here on my mOm Must-Have list.
For a deeper dive into the science of co-regulation, our nervous system, and how we can use this knowledge to benefit our lives and our children’s, there are several courses on the gloWithin App -Empowered Parenting, Empowered Educators, gloWithin Journey, Highly Sensitive Soul, and Reset Your Nervous System.
Below are more tools you can access for support to empower yourself as a parent and in-turn your children.
Please reach out if you have any questions – I always love to hear from you!
ps. Please share this with anyone you feel would benefit!