4 Ways to be of comfort

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

How we connect to other people beyond the simplicity of getting to know one another is now becoming more understood on a neurological level.  Experts in an article in Psychologies Magazine suggest through touch, tone of voice and eye contact we are able to influence and change the emotional state of another person.  The key is to understand how this co-regulation works to have a profound impact on another’s’ mood and to offer more than just a shoulder to cry on.

Co-regulation was described as the neurological and biological phenomenon that occurs when two or more brains interact and fall in sync.  The point at which you recognise your interaction with another person can influence their thoughts and feelings. We are social beings and need to connect with others, so when a friend calls in a moment of trauma, overtaken by emotion, our impulse may be to try to fix the problem for them, to offer immediate relief.  But, more often than not we cannot directly fix the problem, but we can help regulate their emotions and help de-escalate the situation.

The success of this ability relies in trust and being truly present for someone in distress.  If you cannot trust someone not to judge you or keep your problems to themselves, you are less likely to be able to fully expose the extent of the problem. 

Here are four ways to help you become a better co-regulator:

  1. Establish eye contact – this will show the other person you are with them while they experience their emotions.  It helps them feel seen and can be immediately calming.
  2. Create physical contact – the level of contact must be comfortable for the person trying to regulate how they feel.  It could be as simple as sitting near them.
  3. Hear and validate their emotions – you may need to help them by putting words to their experience.  You cand o this my naming what you observe, then offering calming decompressing techniques, like breathing exercises or meditations, as needed.  Create an environment where all feelings and emotions are allowed to flow.
  4. Model self-regulation – co-regulation often involves modelling how you self-regulate, demonstrating awareness and acceptance of how feel and engagement to encourage the person to mimic your behaviour.  Talking through how you manage your emotions is a good place to start.

Understanding co-regulation can not only help you be present and supportive to a loved one in distress, it’s a reminder that your own state of mind can often benefit from reaching out to another.  Having slowed down and softened speech and an open body language and giving your undivided attention all sets the scene for co-regulation to take place.


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