Mental Health Awareness & The Window Of Tolerance

MyMindPal co founder Khody Damestani shares his thoughts and experiences as a therapist during the pandemic…

Mental health awareness week is here again so I would like to share my observations with you as someone who works in this area day in day out.

The last year has been a very busy time for me in my private therapy practice. Many people who were already struggling with their mental health before the pandemic are requiring more support now and many people who have never struggled before have found themselves feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the tasks of daily living.  

Narrowing your window of tolerance

One way of understanding this observation is examining it through the lens of something called our window of tolerance.

Our window of tolerance can be defined as how much stress our brains and nervous systems can endure before we feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Some individuals are lucky and are born with windows that are naturally wider when compared to others.

However we now know that when we have experienced ongoing stress, trauma or childhood abuse or neglect that our windows can become narrowed. Without the right support at the time experiences like these very often continue to live on in our nervous systems often for many years.

How to strengthen your window of tolerance

The good news is that the window of tolerance once narrowed is not fixed. It can be widened again. Exercises such as body scans, visualisations and breathing can do just that.

Developing a routine that focuses on widening your window of tolerance will help you to believe that you can cope with the challenges that life throws at you now as well as offering a level of protection against future stressful events.