Tool within the Multilevel Emotion Regulation Theory – MERT

When to apply

Applying the 4-7-8 Alarm in challenging periods of your life can be both a huge support and make a real difference as it will help you to stay calm and perhaps handle the situation in a more constructive way.

Possible situations in which the 4-7-8 Alarm might help:

  • During life-changing events that would normally be considered to be emotionally stretching, e.g. becoming a new mum, losing a loved one, etc.
  • Undergoing a stressful period, e.g. change of work, sudden unemployment, marital issues, dealing with illness, moving etc.
  • Guiding a neurodiverse child, you will need to remain calm to not add to his or her emotional upset and be able to keep your eye on the long-term goal etc.  

How to 

You might want to set the alarm for a  certain period of time, e.g. each 15 or 30 minutes or hour– what feels best for you. When the alarm goes off, you do the one-minute short 4-7-8 breathing exercise (you could also do anything else that is short and re-energising). This will help you to up your Baseline and be better prepared for what is going to happen because your Baseline will be more solid.

Checking in Emotionally

Before doing the 4-7-8 you can also ask yourself when the alarm goes:

“What is my most present feeling?” Imagine your answer is ‘anxious’ or ‘anger’, consequently you can ask yourself “Where am I on the scale of anxiety”, if zero is an absolute lack of anxiety and 10 the most anxious you have ever felt.

Be aware that if you are on five or above there is a very good chance your stress response has been triggered and you are most probably in the Cycle of Emotional and Sensory Overload, and anything you do or say will be defined by that. In this situation it is recommended to go for Low-Key Self-Care and focus on strengthening your Baseline.

It is helpful to measure where you are emotionally and how doing the 4-7-8 technique (or anything else that is short and re-energising) affects you. This will help increase your awareness, which as we discussed in The Awareness Mantra is key to change, growth and emotional resilience..

Continued support to all neurodiverse families and individuals

During these challenging times PowerWood facilitates access  – also to non-members – to all information, tests, strategies and tools.

PowerWood offers to (self)-isolating families understanding, simple tools and strategies that enable us and our children to support ourselves and our children through emotional overwhelm. If you enjoy reading the articles please support PowerWood by becoming a PowerWood Community FreeBee or Friend member. Thank YOU!

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