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What Is Self-Regulation?

SELF-REG is a powerful method, developed by Dr. Stuart Shanker, for understanding our stress and managing energy flow to promote self-regulation.

The term Self-Regulation has come to be used in many different ways. When Dr. Stuart Shanker and The MEHRIT Centre refer to “Self-Regulation”, they are talking about the term’s original neurophysiological meaning, which is about brain-body responses to stress, including expenditure, recovery, and restoration.

Effective self-regulation requires learning to recognize and respond to stress in all its many facets, positive as well as negative, hidden as well as overt, minor as well as traumatic or toxic.

The question is how. That’s where Self-Reg comes in.

The next question is: “What exactly are the stresses that children and youth – and we ourselves – must content with today?”

The Domains of Self-Reg

Self-Reg looks at the stresses that arise in 5 core domains of experience: Biological, Emotion, Cognitive, Social and Prosocial.

Each of these domains has its own unique stressors, but they are all interlocked in such a way that stress in any one domain can exacerbate stress-reactivity in another.

When one is caught in a stress cycle, stressors have a multiplying effect on each other. This can lead to problems in behaviour, mood, attention, and health.

The domains of Self-Reg

The 5 Steps (or Practices)

There are 5 steps in The Shanker Method® of Self-Reg:

  1. Reframe the behaviour
  2. Recognize the stressors
  3. Reduce the stress
  4. Reflect: Enhance stress awareness
  5. Restore energy
The Steps of Self-Reg

The Shanker Method®

As this Self-Reg diagram conveys, the 5 steps are not a linear sequence. Rather, there are multiple points of entry and Self-Reg can, in fact, be pursued in any order. Mastery of each step grows by working on all the others. This cyclicality is the key to how Self-Reg becomes custom-tailored to suit the distinctive stress-reactivity and needs of every individual.

Self-Reg is designed to deal with all the ups and downs, the variations and fluctuations of daily life. Our reactivity to stress is constantly changing, as indeed are the stresses themselves.

But once we immerse ourselves in Self-Reg and actually live it, our understanding of stress and our ability to manage energy flow is transformed. We become increasingly sensitive to the signs of being over-stressed and better equipped to turn negative situations into positive growth experiences.

Explore some more Self-Reg Basics HERE