Creating a Self-Regulation Plan
with Dr. Lydiana Garcia
Using your 5-sense to create a sense of comfort
This exercise is for you to identify the things and activities that you enjoy through the 5-senses and movements that can assist in your self-care and self-regulation. I usually recommend at least five things for each of the below senses or movements, anything that brings you a sense of comfort.
1. Sight. This can include images, visualizations, actual objects, pictures, anything that you can via this sense.
2. Hearing. This can include music, and overall sounds of nature, animal sounds, city-related sounds you might like.
3. Taste. This can include food, gums, candies, textured drinks, etc.
4. Smell. This can include perfumes, candles, food-related smell, nature-related smell, essential oils, etc.
5. Touch. This can include clothing, pillows, molding toys, temperature, weighted items, anything you can touch that provide a sense of comfort.
6. Movement. This can include shaking, stretching, yoga poses or flow, dancing, swinging, jumping, etc.
Co-regulation of having your support network
Co-regulation refers to the ability to get to a regulated state with someone else. It can be through the other person doing something helpful, or merely being there when in need and listening in a validating and non judgmental way. This can include people, pets, hotlines, online support groups, ancestors, people that you admire, etc.
Even though it's a self-regulation, the best way to regulate is co-regulating. Especially right now with everything going on, we have been challenged to change a little bit of the way that we interact with others right but it is still very important to explore.
This exercise is for you to identify and name the people and others like pets, hotlines, etc. that you can go to when you feel dysregulated, and to also noted their method of contact, whether it’s via phone, social media, or even in your imagination or thru meditation if your go-to is your ancestor or something similar.
On the Self-Regulation Plan there is a table where you can identify and take note of these resources.
Column 1: The emotions, feelings and things that trigger you.
- Anger /Frustration /Irritability or related emotions
- Sadness or related emotions
- Happiness or related emotions
- Worried /Anxious /panicky or related emotions
- Excitement or related emotions
- Hope or related emotions
Column 2: This can include people, pets, hotlines, online support groups, ancestors, etc.
Column 3: Your method of contact with them.
One example would be for anger, frustration, irritability, or related emotions. The idea is to identify ideally two to three person, or hotline, or a group, etc. and then the third column is your method of contact to them.
It’s also important that we connect with others when we’re in our happy, relaxed state and this is especially important for the receiving person/community to feel comfortable to be there for you when you’re in distress. Co-regulation is like a give and take, connecting when you're feeling good and to start creating that pattern because there are times when people are experiencing a lot of trauma or depression, they tend to isolate and they tend to be by themselves which does not necessarily help their healing journey. It’ll be great to also put emotions like happiness, excitement, hope or related emotions for you to explore who’d you like to connect with, and what is the method of contact.
Putting it all together
As we increase our awareness in regard to the situations / people / things / other that trigger us, we can also start implementing some of these skills on a consistent basis. This last part is for you to put them all together and figure out a plan that would work best for you.
When I created this self-regulation plan, I have this idea of having a literal or imaginary bag where you can carry certain things that help you feel regulated. It’s the same thing as planning ahead the things to do and things you need to bring when going out. You can always carry this bag when going out or it can come handy when you’re at home. If you have any children, it will be great as well to have a little bag or something where they can create visual and concrete stuff that they can use when they get dysregulated.
1. If you’re going out, there’s so many different things that you can always bring with you. You can have some scents that feels really good for you and grounds you. This can be in a form of a scented lotion, some essential oils, and there’s also the lava bracelets or necklaces you can add scent into. Something else is texture-wise, things that can bring you a sense of comfort, a jewelry, wearing a type of clothing, or a scarf that makes you feel cozy. All these simple things that you can plan ahead and are easily accessible when you need them. Also, keeping in mind of the people, groups, hotlines and others together with their contact information. And then, remembering the activities and things that can help you be regulated at the moment. Maybe having a water bottle with ice with you, or a really cold drink that you can also place near your neck or your forearms.
2. If you’re staying at home, you can create a daily habit or an activity which you can do as much as possible. It doesn’t really have to be daily and the idea is to not add another thing in the list of guilt or something that you weren’t able to do. Many of us benefit from having a daily routine but for many, they already have a lot in their plates so adding something else that they may not be able to complete and just add into the shame has never been my intention. As much as possible, it could be something really simple like smelling your favorite scent. Or if you have the accessibility of going out and visually being with nature, it could just be 30 seconds of that. You can also have pictures in your phone, or create a music playlist that can easily be accessible.
It would also help to think of and write down an activity that you can do as often as possible, the time of day you can do it and how long it might take you. This can include some of the activities and social support you identified before, and new ones. You can find this activity on the last page of the Self-Regulation Plan.
The whole idea is that you practice this not necessarily when you're dysregulated but on a regular basis when you’re in your regulated self. Don't wait to practice this only when you're dysregulated, instead practice them whenever you can. That way, you can create like a little habit in your brain and in your mind to remember to use these resources when you are dysregulated. Because how many of you have all this great plan and resources and are unable to use them when they’re on the situation. It’s really important and it would really take a while to create the habit.
If you have any questions, I am looking forward to hear from you. I hope this is helpful and if you want the a copy of the Self-Regulation Plan, just click in the link here below to get access. I am looking forward to having more people regulated, including myself. Thank you again, Happy New Year. May 2021 be the best year ever for you.