Start a New Journey: Utilize Polyvagal Theory to Begin to Change Your Body and Brain’s Response to Stress
Have you ever gotten chicken skin for “no reason?” Felt like someone was just “off?” While our societies and communities have dramatically changed over the centuries, our human bodies and brains have not. Like our animal ancestors before us, we use our senses to gather information about our surroundings and evaluate whether an environment or a person feels safe or unsafe- and we make these determinations in seconds. Polyvagal Theory (PVT) which was originally researched by Dr. Stephen Porges (2009) explains the biological responses that occur in our bodies and brains in response to stress or perceived danger. Understanding these responses, as well as how we can communicate safety and connection to others determines a lot about our relational lives. This session will explore the basic tenets of PVT and the autonomic ladder and will allow you to practice some connecting and co-regulation techniques that will help in shifting your personal stress responses.
At the end of this session, participants will:
- Understand the basics of Polyvagal Theory and the importance of the vagus nerve in reading environmental and relational cues.
- Understand the three states of the autonomic nervous system and how those states relate to participants’ own stress responses.
- Learn and practice ways to give and receive cues of safety and co-regulation in order to change relationship dynamics.
Calls to Action:
- Tell 2 other people in your life about polyvagal theory and/or the vagus nerve.
- Intentionally notice your travel up and down the ladder for one hour, one morning, one day.
- Reflect on a difficult person/relationship in your life. How is your response or their response a polyvagal one? What could you do to work on getting to the calm and connected zone?
Dr. Susan MrazekCaregiver Connections- Illinois - Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant
Caregiver Connections- Illinois
Susan is an infant and early childhood mental health consultant for the State of Illinois and currently lives and works in the western suburbs of Chicago. Her role is to partner with child care providers and parents of children under age 5 in better understanding child social emotional development and to support and encourage adults around young children to prioritize care for themselves. From 2003-2015 she lived in Honolulu, and graduated with her PhD in Psychology from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. While a graduate student at UH, she worked with Dr. Rombaoa Tanaka on a federal grant project called Hawai`i Preschool Positive Engagement Project (HPPEP). She absolutely loves her work, is passionate about brain development, babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and has great admiration for everyone committed to the early childhood field.