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Emotions Inside and Out of the Resilient Zone: Learning to Widen It

Resilient Zone:

The Resilient Zone is also known as our “OK Zone.” This zone is where we feel “OK” and can manage our thoughts and feelings. It is a state of well-being.

Parts of the Resilient Zone

  1. High Zone: When we’re in the high zone, we may feel edgy, irritable, mania, anxiety, angry, or pain.
  2. Low Zone: Our low zone usually leaves us feeling depressed, sad, isolated, exhausted, or numb.

It is easy to get stuck inside one of these zones which can make it hard to concentrate.

Graphic of a wavy line inside the "Resilient Zone".

Inside the Resilient Zone

We can be sad, mad, happy, calm, worried, and/or distressed in this zone all at once while still being able to manage it all. Our emotions simply exist in the Resilient Zone, there is no right or wrong way to feel.

We may experience many different emotions whether they’re positive or negative without overacting. These emotions are present but they are easy to deal with, even easy to ignore.

Outside the Resilience Zone

Our emotions may become unpredictable. They are overwhelming and hard to manage no matter what we’re feeling. We are not able to react well.

    • Practice the “shift and stay” method if you feel outside of your “OK Zone.”
    • Shift (change) your attention from the bad thoughts to neutral or pleasant thoughts. Once you focus on something new, stay there.

There are certain things like traumatic and stressful events or reminders that can bump us out of our “Ok Zone.”

Being bumped out of the Resilient Zone can make it harder to deal with things and to express ourselves. Outside of this zone, we may act without thinking or even harm ourselves or others. Managing our feelings becomes difficult.

Widening your Resilient Zone is extremely important because it allows us to feel and
experience more while still being okay. The wider our zone, the more space there is for our thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

We become more resilient when we widen our zone. It gets harder to move outside of the zone and overact, and easier to stay OK longer.

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.