Strategies That Widen That Window of Tolerance

We are all capable of widening our window’s of tolerance. We can become more accepting of hard emotions. The first step is awareness. Observing when you are in your window of tolerance and when you start to veer out of it. Noticing which direction your body typically moves when it becomes dysregulated is the next step. There are plenty more strategies to use to help you widen your window of tolerance. Note that these techniques work for you, the adults and parents, and for you to teach and model for your children.

Don’t Judge Yourself

Listen to your internal chatter and you will more then likely observe lots of judgey comments. Now literally tell that inner-critique to quiet down and replace those  statements with positive affirmations.  Hard at first but with practice, it works.

Move Your Body Every Day

Sounds impossible, right? But once you get in the habit of taking those stairs and not the elevator, you will create a new habit. Walk around the block. Park far away from the grocery store. Once your body gets used to moving more, it will crave this, and motivate you to keep going.

Go Outside

Now that spring has sprung, this will be easy. You can combine movement with being outside. Research shows us that we produce happy hormones when we are outside in the sunshine and even happier when we move outside in the fresh air. Again building a new habit is hard at first but it really works. Ask your kids to go for a walk with you after dinner every night and just see what happens.

Sleep Well

Easier for some then others. Again, do this slowly to create better habits. Go to bed and lay your kids down 15 minutes earlier then usual every week. Set the devices down a bit earlier each week. Hopefully before you know it, everyone is getting more and better sleep. You have to do the work and keep at it but again, building new habits works with perseverance and repetition. Pay attention to the irritability in your family: It should decrease as these new habits increase each of your window’s of tolerance.

Stay in the Present

Ok, this is a toughie. However you name it, mindfulness, this practice of not worrying and brooding about the past and future, makes us all more cheerful and flexible humans. How you achieve staying in the present is really up you. Do you try yoga, mediation, journaling, or do you just simply stick a post-it note to your kitchen counter? Whatever works for you. Keep trying.

Get Creative and Crafty

Can you let your kids choose a new craft to try as a family every Sunday night? Have you always wanted to learn to macramé? Well, YouTube is a wealth of information on learning this and other crafty hobbies.  Research again shows us that we can stay more in the present and are more adaptive if we do a crafty activity.  Literally crossing your body’s midline with your arms lights up parts of your brain that makes you calmer. Give it a try.

Meditate, Yoga, Breathe

Check out this video to try some yoga together as a family. If you really want to learn to meditate, check out YouTube. Or use this video to practice calming breathing with your whole family. Think practice and repetition to make these new habits stick.

Pet Your Dog


Or cat. Or your neighbor’s pet. Hard to imagine that we can become more tolerant of distressing experiences and feelings by petting our puppies but again, research proves this to be true.


Next time you pick your kids up from their after-school activities, play music that everyone likes and see what happens. Next time your child is feeling upset, ask them if they want to wear your headphones and play some calming music. Have a dance party at your house and notice the effects. The possibilities are endless. Without sounding too cliche, girl put your records on…

Hang Out With Friends

In our busy world, this is a hard one to make happen. But wait for it, research shows us that being with good friends and laughing, crying, or whatever happens, actually helps our brains secrete more happy chemicals. And this, in turn, impacts and widens our window’s of tolerance and makes us happier humans.

Help Others

Let the person in line at the grocery store with 5 items go ahead of you. Volunteer with your whole family at a soup kitchen. Offer to watch your friend’s children for an evening. Mow your neighbor’s yard. Helping others and doing even the smallest acts of kindness lights up the happy and calm parts of our brains. Give it a try and just see the results. Anything that takes us out of our world with it’s struggles and worries is going to improve our mental health and of course our window’s of tolerance.  If you add on actually making other peoples’ lives better, it’s the icing on the cake.


There’s something about the act of writing our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and reactions down on paper that is inherently healing. Perhaps it’s the perspective shift. Or maybe it’s the pause it takes to actually jot the words on paper. No matter what, get to journaling. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just take some time out of your day preferably at the same time to write it down. Watch your perspective shift. See what happens to that window of tolerance.

Begin Again

This is my mantra. Basically what it means is that when you are feeling hopeless, distraught, worried, or sad, try to remember that you can always begin again. Reset. Sometimes all it takes is a walk in the woods. A yoga class. A hug from a loved one. Sometimes it actually takes a good night of sleep. But there’s always an opportunity to begin again. That knowledge can certainly widen your window of tolerance and patience with uncomfortable feelings. Begin again.

Skip to content