How To Regulate Better for Improved Communication & Family Relations
By Jeremy Rochford
One of the most frequently asked questions when coaching Autistic men is, "Can you help me become more regulated faster!!!” I’ll get it from both sides. The men want to be the best husbands & fathers they can while their wives don't want to see them suffer, shut down, or explode.
And while there are many things we can do to help us get into a more regulated state, the most important thing is to focus on our pre-regulation.
To understand this best, we must have a little fun with the old saying, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now." In the same way, the best time to start regulating is 6 hours ago when your dysregulation was at about a 4, rather than now when it's at about an 8.
Joking aside, that's where pre-regulation comes in.
Pre-regulation builds mindfulness and intentional living into your current lifestyle for a more consistent and regulated emotional existence.
We can achieve this in 3 simple steps.
Step #1: Build Regulation Breaks into Your Day.
Schedule a regulation break every 1-3 hours throughout the day. Ideally, every hour, but if this is a new behavior to your routine, then shoot for every 3 hours to start and then level up from there to get to every hour.
Here's an example. If you work in an office setting, whether at home or in a corporate space, set a silent alarm on your phone to go off every hour. Once it does, use that as a cue to get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes. Maybe stretch. Maybe do some regulated breathing. Maybe do all three. You can even make it personal to you. My special interests include NASCAR, Hockey and Starwars. So, sometimes I’ll spend 10 minutes looking at my die-cast collection. Or, looking through binders of Hockey Cards. Sometimes I’ll throw on a Podcast about the new Starwars mini-series. Regardless of what you do- what you're looking to accomplish here is breaking the patterns that can lead us to get overwhelmed in a way that leads to dysregulation.
Step #2: Actually, Want to Do This.
This might sound trivial or hurt some of us to hear this. But far too often, we'll embrace a "man up" mentality that internally causes us to "force through" things that bottle up inside and lead us to dis-regulation. Once we're finally done with the day and can rest from our job-based responsibilities, we tend to unload and take our dysregulation on the ones we're supposed to care for the most.
I've done this long enough to know that someone is reading this saying, "But Jeremy, you don't understand. I've got bosses. I've got deadlines. I've got senses of urgency."
I get it. Before coaching full-time, I had sales, management, and project management jobs. I know. There will always be an email, phone call, or meeting that needs you.
But so too does your family.
Realizing this sooner than later will not only save you a lot of heartache.
But also a lot of time and money.
I know it’s hard because you’re always going to have something pulling for your attention, but assuming you’ve committed to being more regulated, we can move onto
Step #3: Make a Plan & Do The Plan.
Here's an example of how this typically happens in my daily life.
10:00-12:00 (One-on-One Coaching)
12:00-1:00 (Regulation Break & Lunch)
1:00-2:30 (One-on-One Coaching)
2:30-3:00 (Regulation, then Emails)
3:00-3:45 (One on One Coaching, then Regulation Break)
4:00-4:45 (One on One Coaching, then Regulation Break)
5:00-5:45 (One on One Coaching, then Regulation Break)
5:45-6:00 (Regulation Break)
6:00- whenever so I can be a dad, husband, friend, son, and/or whatever else is needed of me and do it in the best mental state possible.
In this scenario, I’ve built in 6 regulation breaks during the day so that when I get to the end of my work schedule, I've had six opportunities to hit the "release valve" so that all the pressure doesn't bottle up and render me dysregulated for the rest of the evening (like it used to for a greater part of the past 20 years).
Also- there are times when 1/2 the calls are challenging, and maybe the other 1/2 are calls of progress or victories. So, I may only take four regulation breaks during those days because I'm less emotionally taxed. The goal is to be mindful, not perfect.
Your schedule might look different, and that's OK.
The point is intentionally allowing yourself "micro" breaks to alleviate stress so it doesn't bottle up.
If you apply these three steps, I guarantee you'll feel more regulated faster, and your home life will improve significantly.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section, or you can email me at Jeremy@OurNeuroFam.com.