Mental Health Over Academics...Understanding Why

I'm going to let the video do it's thing this week...so grab a cup of something yummy and hit play.  Then share it with someone else 💜




How does fear affect our health?

How does fear affect our health?

Experiencing fear is a healthy survival mechanism that is fundamental to our existence...living in fear is unhealthy.


Our bodies hold onto that fear and has negative effects on our physically wellness (ie: crippling our immune systems, screwing with our sleep, eating disorders, muscular pain, etc.) and emotional wellness (ie: dissociation, anxiety, phobias, mood swings, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.)


And to my midlife mamas...fear raises our cortisol levels and messes with our hormones and we certainly don’t need anything else messing with our hormones! 


Fear puts us in fight, flight freeze mode and shuts down our pre-frontal cortex which makes it difficult for us to engage in executive functioning! 


Are ya hearing all the chatter about not being able to focus, zoning out, stress eating, stress baking, drinking, scrolling endlessly on social media? 


So let’s talk straight about fear…


Zig Ziglar said FEAR had 2 meanings:  Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise


Running from our lives is an unhealthy coping mechanism. 


Believe me, I tried, years of emotionally eating my fears instead of facing them has added up! 


I now choose  to be resilientAF and rise to face my fears.  


I get it.  This shit is hard.   Facing fear head on is intense. 


Choices in life are sometimes gut wrenching.  


Parenting taught me much of what I know about fear- we as parents hold fears for our children’s safety and well being.


The fears in my head were often way worse than the realities and when we hit the deepest darkest moments and real life scary shit was happening- the fear was overpowered by love- a love so intense that fear couldn’t continue to paralyze me. 


I now fully realize  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”  (Franklin D. Roosevelt)


Action absorbs anxiety and fear- we free ourselves up to live more fully and present to love and gratitude.  Self care is love in action. 


Radical Self Care that I turn to when fear is present:  

  • workout -especially with the boxing gloves on!
  • take a walk, bonus points if the sun is shining
  • dance! sing!
  • gratitude journaling
  • Aroma Freedom session
  • connection with loved ones
  • Kava Stress Relief tea
  • Stress Away and Peace & Calming essential oil blends
  • nurturing whole foods
  • hugs...lots of hugs

Want to bump up your self care game? Come hang with a bunch of resilientAF midlife mamas? You are not alone! We get it!  









Simple Strategies for Impulsive Behaviors (Executive Function Series #7)

Impulsivity is a HOT TOPIC


Inhibition is the executive function skill that allows one to stop their behavior, actions, and/or thoughts at the appropriate time. Impulsivity is the lack of inhibition. 


That's all it means! So what does this look like?


  • not following directions

  • inconsistent performance on tasks 

  • touching things... other people's things.. other people 

  • restlessness or other active behaviors

  • difficulty turn-taking and waiting


Let’s talk strategy!


PAUSE!! 


Teach them to take a breath, pause, process- even just a few seconds before responding. 


Process time is so important for building this skill. 


This is for those that are raising their hands before the question has been asked, or responding before communication is completed. 


I love this traffic light graphic for teaching this concept.  


Taking the time to verbalize the questions and create a plan is incredibly powerful.


For teens, impulsivity can have significant consequences, learning this skill to apply everywhere in their lives is critical.  



VISUAL! 


Provide visual options such as a text, a note, posting on the wall, or writing on the board.  Visually processing can slow down the impulsivity.  Provide clear expectations and reminders.  


It also helps support working memory, planning and organization.  


MONITOR


As parents (and/or teachers) we don’t want to hover!  


That said, for some students it's helpful to have someone nearby. For example, with remote schooling right now, I hear many parents concerned about limited focus and attention, which leads to impulsive behaviors. 


Co-working can be highly supportive.  The student is on the computer doing their classes and the parent is in the same room on the computer doing their work.  


In a classroom students can be strategically placed in the front row and/or they may have an aide or a resource room teacher in the classroom.  


Monitoring isn’t about squashing the behaviors, it’s about redirecting the energy.


POSITIVITY!


When my kids were younger I learned about the importance of focusing on their positive behaviors. Admittedly, this has been one of my biggest struggles. This is where my impulsivity appeared...the negative behaviors always seemed to be illuminated and right in front of my face. 


When we seek, focus and acknowledge the positive behaviors we are also helping build inhibition. 



You are not alone! We get it!

Want all of my executive function info sent directly to your inbox? Click here


Is your teen shut down emotionally or maybe incredibly anxious? (Executive Function Series #6)

  Is your teen shut down emotionally or maybe  incredibly anxious?  (Executive Function Series #6)

Emotional regulation is a sensitive topic for me.  


As a pediatric speech language pathologist, I knew about executive function.  I worked with younger kids so I wasn’t as tuned into it for the older kids. I also didn’t fully understand the emotional regulation behavioral component.  


While in the thick of raising my kids I didn’t acknowledge and comprehend how our nervous systems co-regulate.  


Lots of stuff I didn’t know that I didn’t know!


I’ve done the emotional work to release myself from the guilt of not knowing, of not doing better or different.  I chose to educate myself and share with others, so other families might escape the trauma. 


Emotional regulation is when it's difficult to redirect and refocus when there's a lack of emotional control. This is when we see meltdowns, tantrums, cursing, extreme crying or extreme laughter. Typically unpredictable emotional responses that are out of sync with the situation at hand. 


Emotional regulation also involves co-regulation so if a parent is struggling with their own emotional regulation then they feed off of each other. For example,  if Mom is really stressed out then the kid gets really stressed out. These kids are not able to not take in what is happening in their environment.  Basically our nervous systems are bouncing off of each other and it's a chicken and egg thing. 


One way to explain the emotional regulation is polyvagal theory as shown in this image: 


Another take on it is the “window of tolerance” as in this image: 


Five strategies that can be used to support teens at home and at school: 

  1.  Supporting them in being aware of their outbursts and the consequences of having them on their surroundings.

  2.  Being aware of stressful situations at home and/or in school. 

  3.  Clarifying expectations to reduce their feelings of overwhelm.

  4.  Creating a safe and supportive environment that fosters empathy.

  5.  Using scales to help them monitor where they are emotionally or may be heading as    things escalate.  


We can all widen our window of tolerance by practicing mindfulness, increasing happiness, and building resilience.


**so much more on this topic coming soon! 


Join our Facebook group! You are not alone! We get it!


4 Puzzle Pieces for Planning (Executive Function Series #5)

4 Puzzle Pieces for Planning  (Executive Function Series #5)

I am the queen of to-do lists.  I have them on paper, on digital lists, in my head….but they aren’t fully functional for planning! A to-do list is just a list! 


Planning involves strategy, problem solving, time management, time estimation, sequencing and prioritization.  


Planners, which we touched on last week (#4) are awesome...if you use them!  Any tool that you or your student will USE is the right tool!! 


Academic planners don’t always take into account other tugs on time such as appointments, extracurriculars, meetings, family responsibilities, etc.  They are one piece of the puzzle...


Here are four more puzzle pieces that are BOSS for planning:


  • Timers are magical! 

    • Time blocks: set a chunk of time to get work done and focus on that ONE thing.

    • Taking breaks: set a break time  Get up, get a drink, move around, clear your head. 

    • Assess: how long tasks really take? Keep track- this is helpful data. 

    • Keep track of the rabbit holes! Set a timer when you drop into social media and don’t allow yourself to get sucked in! 


  • Set alarms

    • Name the alarms to reflect what you need to do when they go off- “feed dog” 

    • Use alarms for daily routines and reminders such as “check planner for assignments” after school so that homework gets done.


  • Schedules

    • Use Google Calendar: everyone gets a calendar and they interact in different colors for visual clarity of what’s happening in the household

    • Print the weekly calendar to post in a central space


  • Project chunking

    • Start at due date and work backwards

    • Use post it’s, planners, or digital format to break the project into bite sized chunks and schedule them into the calendar


The consistent use of these tools alongside a planner are golden for planning...you’ve got this! 


If digital planning is your jam, check out my Trello course.  It includes video tutorials and templates on boards for homeschool, school, family, recipes, and “my brain” which is my master board.  It comes with a Facebook group for support and future training, as well as the accessibility of 1:1 coaching to personalize your system.  


Want to hang with a bunch of resilientAF midlife mamas ? Join our Facebook group! 

Want all of my executive function info sent directly to your inbox? Click here! 


 
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