Caring Colleague – Week 3 – Caring Colleagues Can Help You Handle Stress
The “Window of Tolerance” term is related to stress handling, used to describe the zone in which humans function effectively. Since having good colleagues around us increase our stress tolerance, this is an important topic in the Aker Care Caring Colleague campaign.
The “Window of Tolerance” is a model for handling stress and maintaining balance.
“The window can be both narrow and wide, and when it is wide, you cope well with your stress. Since colleague support contributes to widen the window, everyone should make sure they are caring and supportive colleagues,” says Aker Care Psychologist Jan Martin Berge.
Explanation of “Window of Tolerance”
In life we experience different degrees of stress and strain. When we are in what is called the optimal activation zone, we feel reasonably comfortable and mentally connected in social settings. This is what we call the “Window of Tolerance”.
When something dangerous or stressful happens, both the body and mind are activated and the body secretes stress hormones. We must choose between “Fight, flight or freeze” and in many ways, how we react mentally and physically reveals if the nervous system is over or under-activated.
When we are over-activated, we are outside the “Window of Tolerance” and become emotionally reactive and impulsive. Our senses are intensified, we tend to focus all our attention on certain things and stop processing complex thoughts. It becomes harder to concentrate on work tasks, we no longer think about the consequences of our decisions and tend to make premature decisions.
Physically, the heart beats faster, we breathe more frequently, our hands get sweaty and we may shiver.
Conversely, when we are in a low arousal state, we may be indifferent, demotivated, feeling insecure, pessimistic and passive. Things may seem more distant and it becomes difficult to be mentally present in what is happening around us.
At work we want to be in the optimal activation zone – in the “Window of Tolerance” – but incidents and situations may take us outside of it. Then a caring colleague can help you get back into the optimal activation zone.