What Is
Co-Regulation In A Relationship?
Co-regulation is a process by which we positively affect our partner’s emotional and physiological state, but we can also dysregulate our partners when our own nervous systems enter fight, flight, or freeze mode. Therefore, self-regulation needs to be your first step to resolve the physical symptoms of emotional overwhelm.
Once you are calmed, doing grounding exercises together may be the easiest way to approach a partner's agitation, and safe touch with permission can also help. One study asserts that even simple changes in movement and posture can activate mirror neurons in another person and aid in co-regulation.
After your partner's body is regulated as well, you can jointly assess the thought patterns that caused their distress by attentively listening. Leading with curiosity and affirmation is important for creating the right conditions for co-regulation, and can be referred to as attunement, or tuning into someone's emotional state.
Be mindful that your own anxieties aren’t being triggered during the process, which can lead to dysregulation. Let the co-regulation come to a natural close, and leave the conversation on a supportive note by re-affirming the validity of their experiences and emotions — this will build deeper trust between you and your loved one.