The Window of Tolerance

The Mind Body Connection and How to Stay in The Window of Tolerance

Mind Body Connection Mental Health Counseling and The Window of Tolerance Haleigh Kreber Breathe. Phsyical Therapy Des Moines West Des Moines

I (Haleigh, LMHC) have been getting more questions about the mind-body connection in sessions, many people are wondering “what does that mean?” When talking about the mind-body connection, we’re referring to the idea that our thoughts, feelings and perceptions impact how our bodies feel and function. If you’ve ever experienced your chest tightening when feeling anxious, or the flutter in your stomach when you’re excited, you’ve experienced the mind-body connection! 

One important thing to understand is that the mind isn’t the same as the brain. The “mind” in mind-body connection refers to our mental states (i.e. thoughts, emotions, beliefs, perceptions, imagination etc.). Each mental state has a response that occurs in the body. 

Example: The mental state of anxiety causes you to produce stress hormones. Stress hormones cause your heart rate to increase, muscles to tense up and breaths to become shallower and quicker (AKA the fight or flight response I talked about in my last post!).

Stress is a part of life. We all feel it, and it even has benefits like protecting us from harm when necessary! This response can be really helpful. Beyond the safety that fight or flight response provides, a heightened stress response often provides us with the energy and motivation to keep pushing through our busy days and to-do lists. But it’s important to downshift from time to time, and it may be best to live as much time as you can inside the window of tolerance. Spending time in the window of tolerance protects us from unnecessary mental and physical strain and produces feelings of connection and control. (See the image below to see the different “zones” or states of being).  

Mental states can be either conscious or unconscious. In an unconscious mental state, we are reacting to situations without being aware of why we are reacting in that way. Let’s go back to the example above. In therapy, we would focus on increasing awareness surrounding your mental state, so in this case- How do you respond to stress? If we find that you respond to stress by eating more junk food, isolating from others and not getting enough sleep, we then use that awareness and information to explore more beneficial ways of functioning and coping. We know healthy lifestyle changes can improve mental health, so we focus on creating habits that allow you to spend more time in your window of tolerance and be your best self. We want you to feel good mentally and physically.

To learn more about your specific stress response and overall mental wellness score, schedule an appointment with me. I look forward to supporting you on your journey to feeling energetic, vibrant and active!