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Safety and Social Engagement - 1 Page Lesson

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

This is a segment from my Polyvagal One Pagers free PDF in my File Share. There are more short lessons on the fundamentals of the Polyvagal Theory in that PDF as well. These are useful for your own short lessons, classes you might teach or handouts you might give out at a seminar or workshop.


The safety and social engagement system is the ventral vagal parasympathetic branch of the

autonomic nervous system.

The safe & social state evolved within mammals and is important for optimizing the resources that the body has for health, growth and restoration. Examples include: homeostasis of bodily functions, hormone release, immune system and digestive system functioning. When the ventral vagal pathways are activated, our heart rate slows, we take fuller breaths into the belly, and we also have the ability to use our face and neck muscles.

When in the safe & social state, we instantaneously socially engage with others:

  • closer proximity

  • eye contact

  • wider range of facial expression

  • wider range of physical gestures and posture

  • hear human voice more accurately, while tuning out other noises

  • vocal prosody: stress, pitch, intonation, pauses, volume and pacing

The world is: safe, fun, peaceful, interesting, manageable

Thoughts become: understanding, empathetic, balanced, hopeful, curious

Feelings of: calm, happiness, connection, joy, motivation, excitement, relaxation, hope, awe

Able to: focus, plan, weigh options when making a decision, self-regulate and provide co-regulation, use play, be self-reflective

For even more information on the Polyvagal Theory, check out these other resources I have:

  • You can download a 1-page Polyvagal Theory resource in my File Share. There's this and many many other one-pagers for you to use.

  • The Polyvagal 101 page

  • the Polyvagal Theory on the Stuck Not Broken podcast, episodes 101-109

  • plus everything else I have in the blog and the Polyvagal 101 course

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