Concepts of CRM®
Zones: Resilient, OK, High and Low
The “Resilient Zone” (RZ) is a state of wellbeing in mind, body and spirit. When in this zone, one can handle stress better and can manage the ups and downs of life. A major concept of CRM is being able to recognize when you are in your own resilient zone and when you are bumped out.
There can be times in your day that you have more stress and other times during your day when you feel more calm. The RZ is like a wave. For children, the “OK Zone” has started to be used as they you can be OK mad, OK just right or OK sad and still within their zone. There are many different feelings that can be in the “OK Zone.”
Life experiences can result in a person getting bumped out of the RZ and into a “High Zone” (HZ). At this zone, a person can react as hyper vigilant, anxious, irritable and even pained. Conversely, being bumped into the “Low Zone” (LZ) can result in reactions of disconnection, exhaustion, numbness and depression. When there is a trigger that represents a past traumatic or stressful experience, we can get bumped out of our RZ and get stuck in high or low zones, or fluctuate between the two.
Some people are born with a wider RZ and others have a more narrow RZ. The depth of our RZ can change depending on life experiences. The good news is that we can expand the depth of our RZ by learning CRM wellness skills. The more awareness that is brought to the sensations connected to the RZ, the more an individual can create new neuronal pathways to increase states of well-being.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and wellbeing. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences initial study. Researchers assessed 17,337 patients for their adverse childhood experiences. The participants were middle class with healthcare insurance. More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. To date, more than 50 scientific articles have been published and more than100 conference and workshop presentations have been made. Subsequent ACE surveys include other types of childhood adversity beyond family troubles, such as: racism, sexism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, living
in an unsafe neighborhood, a pandemic. Students living in poverty, homelessness, and with other social vulnerabilities are significantly more apt to experience stress and trauma. There is also significant research on how climate adversities impact children and adults.
Background: The original study found a strong link between adverse childhood experiences and adult onset of chronic illness.
Those with ACE scores of four or more:
- Had significantly higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than those with ACE scores of zero.
- Chronic pulmonary lung disease increased 390 percent;
- Hepatitis: increased 240 percent;
- Depression: increased 460 percent;
- Suicide attempts: increased 1,220 percent.
Those with an ACE score of six or more:
In 2015, the RYSE Center in Richmond, CA, did a listening campaign with their youth — pairing with researchers, funders and community organizers they wanted to communicate what they also knew to be true about ACEs, an organization born from trauma and now serves as a safe space for youth to “love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities.” (https://www.acesconnection.com/blog/addinglayers-to-the-aces-pyramid-what-do-you-think; and RYSE website: https://rysecenter.org).
Many youth of color from this listening campaign felt the original ACEs pyramid did not capture their narrative of trauma as intended. In 2013, the Institute for Safe Families and ACE Task Force conducted the Philadelphia Urban ACE Study which included additional ACE indicators such as: neighborhood safety and trust, bullying, witnessing violence, experiences of racism and time in foster care. Findings include significant increases in ACE scores when indicators include environmental stressors outside of the original ACE indicators.
Positive Childhood Experience (PCE)
PCE survey participants were asked seven questions to report how often or how much as a child they:
- felt able to talk to their family about feelings
- felt their family stood by them during difficult times
- enjoyed participating in community traditions
- felt a sense of belonging in high school
- felt supported by friends
- had at least 2 non-parent adults who took genuine interest in them; and
- felt safe and protected by an adult in their home
From the study, we learned that “attention should be given to the creation of positive experiences that both reflect and generate resilience within children, families and communities.” This study adds to the growing evidence that childhood experiences have profound and lifelong effects.
(Bethell, C., et a.l, Positive Childhood Experiences and Adult Mental and Relational Health in a Statewide Sample Associations Across Adverse Childhood Experiences Levels, JAMA, 2019.)
Organizing principles of the brain
When we are learning about reading the nervous system, we learn about the autonomic nervous system. You can think about this system as the accelerator and brake of the nervous system. When we are playing a sport and we are moving and using our limbs, the accelerator of our nervous system is on. Our heart beats faster and our breath becomes shorter. When we stop running, our nervous system slows down and the brake is on to rest and digest. We take a deeper breath, our heart rate slows down and we may feel our muscles relax. When we are under stress, the accelerator can be triggered but we may be sitting still, we may experience our heart beating faster and have tense muscles. It may take some effort to put the brake on.
In CRM, we learn about the accelerator and brake and the sensations connected to each part so we can learn when we are feeling distress, energized, calm or relaxed. We are learning that by awareness and attention to the sensations, we can shift our attention to sensations connected to our wellbeing.
Background: The autonomic nervous system is considered largely involuntary and includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. During times of stress or challenge, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) arouses and prepares the body for action. It directs the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, readying the body to take action. The SNS causes the liver to provide extra sugar to the bloodstream in order to increase energy; it also increases breathing to provide added oxygen. The SNS diverts blood from the internal organs to the muscles, slowing digestion and suppressing the immune system. Along with increased heart rate and blood pressure, this gets the blood to the much-needed muscles, making it easier for the body to move and to move quickly. The SNS dilates the pupils, allowing in more light; it decreases salivation, but increases perspiration in order to cool down the activated body. Just as a car needs both an accelerator and a brake, the body needs a counterpart to the SNS. That counterpart is the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which calms the body and prepares it for rest. Once the “fight or flight” response is successful, the “rest and digest” response takes over.
As the stress hormones slowly leave the bloodstream, the PSNS works to conserve energy and restore the body to a more balanced state. It slows breathing, lowers blood sugar, decreases heart rate and blood pressure, increases digestion and immune functioning, constricts the pupils, increases salivation, and decreases perspiration. As a result, the activated body becomes calm once again.
The SNS and PSNS work together to maintain a steady and balanced internal state within the body. The natural biological rhythm of charge (SNS) and release (PSNS) corresponds to the rhythm of the Resilient Zone. When we are in our Resilient Zone, our autonomic nervous system is in rhythm. When this rhythm is working properly, we are at our best in handling the challenges that we face.
“The next step could be to organize CRM get-togethers. This would allow people to come and learn about CRM from someone knowledgeable about the process. Some people are visual learners, and others need to get their hands dirty to learn, so having someone available to guide them would be helpful.”