What is Regulation?

Throughout our day, we experience different levels of activation as we face challenges. To avoid setting ourselves up for vicarious trauma, we need to regulate. Regulation increase our capacity to handle these challenges and reconnect. In this video, Lisa reviews what is regulation and how we can use it when we begin to feel disconnected with ourselves.


Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Lisa Dion is an international teacher, creator of Synergetic Play Therapy, founder and President of the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute, and host of the Lessons from the Playroom podcast. She is the 2015 recipient of the Association for Play Therapy’s Professional Education and Training Award of Excellence and the author of Aggression in Play Therapy: A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Intensity. Lisa is also a Master Certified Demartini Method Facilitator providing education and support to individuals and organizations worldwide.

Ludmila Golovine

Ludmila Golovine is President/CEO of MasterWord Services, Inc., a global language solutions company. As a language professional, Golovine knows first-hand how interpreting, especially in the healthcare, social services, education, and legal arenas, may present challenges such as stress, anxiety, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. For the past 10 years, she has applied her skills as a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and a Trained Demartini Method Facilitator to tirelessly help promote health and wellness to those in the language services industry.


Ludmila Golovine:
Hello and thank you for connecting. Lisa. Today we want to ask you to help us understand regulation. And what does regulation mean?

Lisa Dion:
Let’s talk a little bit about regulation, what it is, what it means. How do we actually do it particularly right now, when all of the intensity around the Corona virus is really forefront in our minds and in our bodies. So for many, when we think about regulated, the word that often comes to mind is calm. But regulated doesn’t actually mean calm. Regulated actually means connected. So let me give you an example here. So right now we are experiencing different levels of activation at different moments, depending on our perception of the threat or challenge that we’re experiencing related to the Corona virus. So let’s say I’m having a moment when I’m feeling anxious, maybe even a little bit panicky in that moment. When I pause and take a deep breath, I’m regulating. But you can see that I’m still feeling anxious and probably still even a little panicky. So in that moment, the act of regulating is actually more about how do I connect with myself in the midst of all of the activation that I am experiencing, and it’s the act of connecting with ourselves that actually gives us access to the part of our nervous system that actually allows us to relax, to slow down, to feel safe and maybe at some point to feel calm.

So this is actually the goal of regulation. It’s to actually connect with ourselves in the midst of all this intensity that we are experiencing right now, and this is so important because the more we’re able to connect in, this is actually where we experience the sense of safety. When we become scared, it’s really easy to orient outside of ourselves and to try to look for safety out there. So we scroll through Facebook looking for that thing that’s gonna help us feel safe or we are looking at the news for that thing again. Or listening for that thing that’s trying to help us feel safe. But the irony is, is that a real sense of safety is cultivated within and it’s cultivated in the moments when we regulate and connect with ourselves. This is also really important because if we don’t have the ability to regulate our nervous system through this intense activation, our systems actually stay in a heightened state of alert, which means that we stay in a stress response for a period of time, and as a result, we actually set ourselves up down the road for things like compassion, fatigue, vicarious trauma. We actually decrease the functioning of our immune system, so every time we are able to regulate or connect with ourselves were actually increasing our capacity to be able to manage all of this intensity that we’re experiencing.

So here are some really quick, practical ways of being able to do this. And everything I’m about to share is something that you do in the moment. It doesn’t require you to separate yourself, go to another room or, you know, go do something for an hour because what we need to learn right now in the midst of a crisis and the midst of intensity, is how do I work with my nervous system right now in the moment. So the first is your breath. Your breath is your greatest ally right now. So being able to take a deep breath and then, if needed, extend the exhalation. So sometimes, when we started to panic and we get anxious, we hold our breath and so really extending the exhale. So if I’m breathing in, actually want you to pause this video and try that a couple of times. Deep breath in and then full exhale. Let it out. Let it go. You might even think about doubling the length of your exhalation to your inhalation. So if you’re inhaling, maybe 123 you’re exhaling, maybe to the count of six. So go ahead and try that. Pause the video, and I want you just to practice connecting to yourself and beginning to regulate your breathing. Okay, once you’ve done that a couple times now you can begin to shift your breathing into more regulated patterns, which has to do with the inhale and the exhalation being more even in count. So equal inhalation, exhalation. So this is something that you can do right in the moment. So you’re having a moment when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Begin to regulate your breathing. You’re having a challenging conversation. Begin to regulate your breathing. You’re having a hard time sleeping at night. Begin to regulate your breathing. Another one has to do with pushing on your body. So literally pushing on your body, squeezing your arms, rubbing your legs, squeezing your head. When you put this kind of pressure on your body, what you’re actually doing is telling your body I’m here. I’m here and I’m safe. And all of this again has that regulatory effect in your physiology. Another one has to do with cold water so you can splash some cold water on your face. You could get a little hand towel and put it in cool water and put it on your forehead or put it on your neck. Also, the cooling experience of the water actually begins to relax the nervous system. Another one is just actually rubbing your neck, rubbing the sides of your neck. This actually connects you with the part of the nervous system that actually begins to relax and ground you. And then the last one is just move. Move your body literally move your body stretch, bend. Twist your body. Every time you do that, mindfully, you’re connecting back into your to yourself, and you’re giving your nervous system an opportunity to release some of the intensity that it’s been stored up.

So I really invite you to make this an ongoing part of your day. So it’s not just pausing and becoming mindful and breathing. We also want to, bring in other types of regulation as well. You might have been think of it as, throughout the day, hitting reset on your nervous system so that the intensity builds and then you regulate it through, and then the intensity builds, and then you regulate it through. And the more you’re able to do that, you actually set yourself up down the road for an increased health and well being because we don’t really know how long this is gonna go on. So taking care of our nervous systems and all our mental health right now needs to be a huge priority. In addition to taking care of our regular health to make sure that we don’t, we don’t get sick. So regulate your body. Remember, it’s not about being calm. It’s about finding ways to stay connected to yourself throughout the day

About MasterWord

MasterWord Services, Inc., a woman-owned business established in 1993, is ranked in the Top 20 largest language service providers in North America by the market research firm, Common Sense Advisory. A top-quality provider of industry-specific language solutions, the company works with more than 300 clients in Fortune 500 companies. These include energy and engineering, healthcare, life sciences, government, technology, insurance, finance, education, and non-profit organizations with requirements in more than 250 languages and across four continents. MasterWord’s strength lies in understanding its clients’ unique challenges and tailoring custom solutions for success. The company delivers a broad spectrum of solutions for clients operating in a highly regulated, fast-paced, deadline-driven environment, always striving to exceed our clients’ expectations.