What is a "Window of Tolerance?"

Updated: Mar 19

We all have a window of tolerance, which can also be described as our personal comfort zone that we operate most effectively in, mentally and emotionally. When we are operating within our window of tolerance, generally our brain is functioning well and we can process stimuli easily and effectively. We can also regulate our emotions, think rationally, and make decisions calmly without feeling overwhelmed. When we experience a high level of stress, or a traumatic event, we are often pushed out of our window of tolerance and end up operating in either a hyper-aroused state, also known as a fight or flight state, or we might move into a hypo-aroused sate, known as a freeze state.

If when we enter fight or flight, we are likely also feeling a combination of anxiety, anger, impulsivity, and/or panic. If we are operating in a freeze state, we might feel like we are on autopilot, we may feel disconnected from others, separated from ourselves, and struggle with feeling much at all. Operating outside of our window of tolerance for a prolonged period of time can have adverse affects on our quality of life and our relationships.

If we have experienced trauma, our window of tolerance might be smaller than the average person’s, which means it doesn’t take much for us to be pushed out of our comfort zone.

Do you think that you are living in a fight, flight, or freeze state some, most, or all of the time? If so, counselling can help you both re-enter, and widen your window of tolerance so you can live a happier, calmer and safer life!

Don't hesitate to reach out for help. Email our counsellors at: