Signs of Hypoarousal

Hypoarousal is another defence mechanism. It feels like exhaustion, numbness, feeling disconnected from everything and everyone, like you are in a dream. You may want to sleep a lot, eat little and feel quite numb and dissociated. It can be very difficult to process information when you are in this state, or even hear what someone is saying.

It is difficult for healing to occur when we are in hypo or hyper arousal. We need to be within our ‘window of tolerance’ where the prefrontal cortex is switched on and our cognition is online.

Different self-regulation tools can help you to stay within your personal window of tolerance. The body has a natural pull towards homeostasis and will want to pull us back into the window of tolerance and out of this numbness. One way we do this is to do things that make us feel alive. These could be dangerous things, so it is important to learn healthy ways to ‘wake us up’ and bring us out of hypoarousal and back into our personal window of tolerance.

The goal of therapy is to expand the window of tolerance without becoming dysregulated and going into hypo or hyperarousal.

When we are learning to self-regulate, it is about finding what works for YOU. When you are hypoaroused (shut down), what gets you moving? Some ideas coming tomorrow.

References: Ogden, P. (2009). Modulation, mindfulness, and movement in the treatment of trauma-related depression. Pat.

Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind. New York: Guilford.