Understanding Your Brain and Stress: How to Reset a Broken Stress Response

In today’s video, we delve into the stress response in the brain and what to do when it feels like it’s taken over. Join Lisa Reigel, one of the founders of JAKAPA, as she shares valuable insights into how our brain processes stress and practical strategies to regain control.

Lisa explains that our brain is like a giant corporation with different departments, including the thalamus (data manager), amygdala (security monitor), and prefrontal cortex (CEO). Using a simple analogy of a fist, she demonstrates how these departments work together and what happens when the stress response becomes dysregulated.

Learn how sensory data is analyzed by the thalamus and why it’s crucial to manage the communication between the thalamus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex effectively. Gain a deeper understanding of your brain’s stress response and discover actionable steps to prevent it from hijacking your thoughts and actions.

Don’t miss out on this informative video that offers practical tips for managing stress and promoting overall well-being. Watch now and take the first step towards a healthier relationship with stress.

Interested in the Next Topic?

1
00:00:01,050 –> 00:00:04,250
We’re so excited that you could join us for our coffee chat.

2
00:00:04,750 –> 00:00:09,310
Today’s focus is on the stress response in the brain and what to do

3
00:00:09,311 –> 00:00:12,270
when it has hijacked your brain. I’m Lisa Regul,

4
00:00:12,290 –> 00:00:16,590
I’m one of the founders of Jakapa and I’m excited to bring you some

5
00:00:16,591 –> 00:00:21,250
of this information today. So the first thing to think about

6
00:00:21,251 –> 00:00:24,750
when you think about a stress response is that we think our brain as

7
00:00:24,751 –> 00:00:29,450
just like the brain. But it’s actually like a giant corporation with lots

8
00:00:29,451 –> 00:00:33,690
of departments. So just like a big company you have a data department,

9
00:00:33,770 –> 00:00:36,110
you have a security department and IT department,

10
00:00:36,410 –> 00:00:41,390
you have a CEO’s office. In our brain there’s three main departments

11
00:00:41,391 –> 00:00:44,870
that are responsible for stress. There’s our thalamus,

12
00:00:45,030 –> 00:00:48,090
which is our data manager, there’s the amygdala,

13
00:00:48,091 –> 00:00:51,870
which is our security monitor and there’s the prefrontal cortex,

14
00:00:52,110 –> 00:00:56,330
which is our CEO. So as we think about these departments,

15
00:00:56,610 –> 00:01:00,350
you can use your fist to think about how they work together.

16
00:01:00,770 –> 00:01:04,870
And I would encourage you to share this with your students or your children.

17
00:01:05,110 –> 00:01:08,430
So if you look at the fist, you have at the very base of

18
00:01:08,431 –> 00:01:11,530
the brain is where we find the thalamus.

19
00:01:11,970 –> 00:01:14,290
And the thalamus is job is to take an information.

20
00:01:14,750 –> 00:01:19,590
In the middle of the brain, there’s a little common-sized component called

21
00:01:19,591 –> 00:01:23,390
the amygdala, and the amygdala is our security center.

22
00:01:23,610 –> 00:01:26,190
It is the one that decides whether or not we need to hit a

23
00:01:26,191 –> 00:01:28,330
panic button and do fight versus flight.

24
00:01:29,030 –> 00:01:32,710
And then, finally, there’s the prefrontal cortex up here,

25
00:01:32,711 –> 00:01:36,370
and the prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain worth thinking and logic

26
00:01:36,371 –> 00:01:40,870
and reason happens. So you can kind of think of this fist because if

27
00:01:40,871 –> 00:01:44,770
we allow the thalamus to send a message to the amygdala that we’re in

28
00:01:44,771 –> 00:01:49,770
danger, then we disregulate and all of a sudden there’s no connection

29
00:01:49,771 –> 00:01:52,250
anymore between the parts of the brain.

30
00:01:53,330 –> 00:01:57,770
So as we think about the thalamus that’s your data manager and what his

31
00:01:57,771 –> 00:02:01,690
job is is to analyze all the sensory data in the environment and create

32
00:02:01,691 –> 00:02:03,770
a report and so they,

33
00:02:03,790 –> 00:02:05,910
you know, cite, smell, sound,

34
00:02:06,170 –> 00:02:10,270
situations, all of that goes into our thalamus and then they kind of type

35
00:02:10,271 –> 00:02:13,450
up if you think of it as like an incident report But the problem

36
00:02:13,451 –> 00:02:17,570
is that the thalamus is programmed because of evolutionary biology,

37
00:02:18,230 –> 00:02:22,330
it is programmed to send the report to the amygdala or the security center

38
00:02:22,331 –> 00:02:24,610
by email, which is super fast,

39
00:02:25,090 –> 00:02:27,950
and send the report to the CEO by snail mail.

40
00:02:28,590 –> 00:02:32,690
So by design, our brain wants to know our re-endanger,

41
00:02:32,890 –> 00:02:36,530
because if we’re in danger, then we need to react before we really think

42
00:02:36,531 –> 00:02:41,950
about it and use over it. So your security center gets that information first.

43
00:02:42,990 –> 00:02:45,830
Then you have your amygdala, which is your security monitor.

44
00:02:46,530 –> 00:02:51,030
His job is to read that data that report and analyze the danger level.

45
00:02:51,410 –> 00:02:55,630
If the danger is high, then our amygdala hits the alarm and sends all

46
00:02:55,631 –> 00:02:59,850
these chemicals. We have adrenaline and cortisol and all the stress chemicals into our

47
00:02:59,851 –> 00:03:04,430
body. It also shuts down our CEO’s office because if

48
00:03:04,431 –> 00:03:06,550
we are in trouble, we need to fight,

49
00:03:06,551 –> 00:03:10,390
light or freeze, we don’t need to think about it.

50
00:03:10,970 –> 00:03:14,110
The final part of the brain then is your CEO,

51
00:03:14,270 –> 00:03:16,830
which is your prefrontal cortex where your thinking happens.

52
00:03:17,710 –> 00:03:21,850
What her job is is to calmly read the report and then analyze using

53
00:03:21,851 –> 00:03:24,570
logic. So we’ve had this happen before,

54
00:03:24,650 –> 00:03:28,830
and we were safe. It’s okay, we don’t need to be alarmed by this.

55
00:03:29,090 –> 00:03:31,290
But again, as I was saying before,

56
00:03:31,730 –> 00:03:35,530
your security monitor gets that information before your CEO.

57
00:03:35,531 –> 00:03:39,930
So, if you have a security monitor who is super excitable,

58
00:03:40,630 –> 00:03:42,890
then that panic button is already hit.

59
00:03:43,190 –> 00:03:46,730
And when the panic button is hit, it sends your CEO out to lunch.

60
00:03:47,270 –> 00:03:49,590
And the problem with that is just like in any job,

61
00:03:49,690 –> 00:03:52,530
the more you do your job, the better you get at it.

62
00:03:52,630 –> 00:03:55,870
And so if you have a CEO who doesn’t ever get to do her

63
00:03:55,871 –> 00:03:57,890
job, because she’s always sent out to lunch,

64
00:03:58,090 –> 00:04:01,170
because this body is always in a constant stress response,

65
00:04:01,730 –> 00:04:03,970
then the CEO doesn’t get good at her job.

66
00:04:03,971 –> 00:04:07,950
And the CEO’s job is the executive function needs.

67
00:04:08,430 –> 00:04:12,290
So executive function includes being able to plan and organize.

68
00:04:12,570 –> 00:04:14,950
So your time management, your task management,

69
00:04:15,210 –> 00:04:20,150
responsibility management. It’s also your ability to be adaptable and shift between

70
00:04:20,151 –> 00:04:24,970
situations and thoughts. This part of the brain sets priorities so

71
00:04:24,971 –> 00:04:28,010
that you can decide what to work on first, what can weight,

72
00:04:28,550 –> 00:04:30,990
and even priorities on what you’re thinking about.

73
00:04:30,991 –> 00:04:33,690
And then also that monitoring component,

74
00:04:34,150 –> 00:04:36,990
whether or not you’re keeping on track, how you’re doing,

75
00:04:37,190 –> 00:04:41,950
it’s that sort of meta cognitive function where we learn how to learn,

76
00:04:42,170 –> 00:04:46,290
we learn what makes sense for us. And then it’s also about controlling our

77
00:04:46,291 –> 00:04:49,430
emotions and our impulsivity and using working memory.

78
00:04:51,430 –> 00:04:54,010
So we develop soft skills in the brain.

79
00:04:54,430 –> 00:04:57,650
We can’t do that if our brain is hijacked by a stress response.

80
00:04:57,651 –> 00:05:02,670
So, you might have the data manager saying this place is dangerous and

81
00:05:02,671 –> 00:05:06,390
then your security monitor going, oh, I better hit the panic button and now

82
00:05:06,391 –> 00:05:10,810
you get into this hijacked response. The problem is that every time the panic

83
00:05:10,811 –> 00:05:15,850
button is hit, the panic button becomes more like a hair trigger and

84
00:05:15,851 –> 00:05:20,810
so less and less and less will lead to a stress response.

85
00:05:22,350 –> 00:05:25,250
So oftentimes, the problem may be your data manager.

86
00:05:26,410 –> 00:05:30,670
So if you have a data manager that has a negative confirmation bias,

87
00:05:30,890 –> 00:05:34,510
and basically what that means is your data manager thinks that the world is

88
00:05:34,511 –> 00:05:37,750
dangerous or scary or people are out to get you,

89
00:05:38,010 –> 00:05:41,550
maybe there’s social anxiety, and they think people aren’t going to like them.

90
00:05:41,890 –> 00:05:46,050
So then what happens is our brains are programmed to confirm biases,

91
00:05:46,270 –> 00:05:48,330
and it’s actually for protection,

92
00:05:48,950 –> 00:05:51,770
you if in, you know, way back when in evolution,

93
00:05:51,771 –> 00:05:54,330
if you ended up where, you know,

94
00:05:54,570 –> 00:05:58,210
you saw a certain type of animal and you learned that that animal was

95
00:05:58,211 –> 00:06:00,990
dangerous, then every time you would see that animal,

96
00:06:01,450 –> 00:06:05,310
you would be concerned about your safety and you might have your security monitor

97
00:06:05,311 –> 00:06:09,890
hit the button. The problem is that when you have a confirmation bias

98
00:06:09,891 –> 00:06:11,910
that’s negative and, and it’s,

99
00:06:11,930 –> 00:06:13,970
you know, the world is not all dangerous and scary.

100
00:06:14,090 –> 00:06:18,670
There’s lots of positive things, then you end up where your security

101
00:06:18,671 –> 00:06:23,250
monitor gets hypersensitive. And there’s a picture here of tuning forks because

102
00:06:23,251 –> 00:06:27,150
it’s very interesting. Scientists have started actually studying,

103
00:06:27,650 –> 00:06:32,390
we’re all, you know, energy. And so we can actually record how

104
00:06:32,391 –> 00:06:35,250
we vibrate, how the energy and our body vibrates.

105
00:06:35,750 –> 00:06:40,330
And positive energy when you feel joy vibrates at 520 hertz.

106
00:06:40,331 –> 00:06:42,790
And if you think about a tuning fork,

107
00:06:42,930 –> 00:06:46,450
the way a tuning fork works is if you hit the tuning fork,

108
00:06:46,990 –> 00:06:51,510
then another tuning fork that is programmed to the same

109
00:06:51,511 –> 00:06:53,650
level of hurts will vibrate.

110
00:06:54,250 –> 00:06:58,190
So like vibrates like. So if you have a positive confirmation bias,

111
00:06:58,550 –> 00:07:03,210
your body actually at the cellular level is vibrating at a higher hurts.

112
00:07:03,670 –> 00:07:07,850
And what will happen is you will notice the things in your environment that

113
00:07:07,851 –> 00:07:10,370
are vibrating at that same level. So again,

114
00:07:10,670 –> 00:07:14,910
the energy kind of explains how that phalamus works and the idea that if

115
00:07:14,911 –> 00:07:18,070
we believe that the world is is safe and supportive,

116
00:07:18,670 –> 00:07:22,650
then we’re going to notice things every day that are safe and supportive.

117
00:07:23,170 –> 00:07:27,850
You could have two people who have the exact same experience in a day.

118
00:07:28,090 –> 00:07:30,210
And at the end of the day, you say, how was your day? And

119
00:07:30,211 –> 00:07:32,450
if they have a positive confirmation bias,

120
00:07:32,710 –> 00:07:35,910
they’ll say it was pretty good day because they’ll remember the things that were

121
00:07:35,911 –> 00:07:39,530
good that confirmed that bias, where if they have a negative bias,

122
00:07:39,670 –> 00:07:42,330
they’ll say, oh, is the worst day. And then they’ll cite all the negative

123
00:07:42,331 –> 00:07:46,670
things that happened. And the person with the positive confirmation bias might be like,

124
00:07:46,690 –> 00:07:49,650
oh, yeah, I guess that did happen, but it’s not the part that they

125
00:07:49,651 –> 00:07:54,410
remember. The other piece that’s really important about stress is

126
00:07:54,411 –> 00:07:57,410
that it not only lives in our brain, but it actually lives in our

127
00:07:57,411 –> 00:08:00,530
body. And so there’s a couple different systems involved.

128
00:08:00,710 –> 00:08:04,090
One is our nervous system. So we have a sympathetic nervous system.

129
00:08:04,091 –> 00:08:07,270
That’s like the gas pedal. and it energizes our body,

130
00:08:07,430 –> 00:08:10,110
and it actually activates when we breathe in.

131
00:08:10,530 –> 00:08:13,850
So if you ever need a little pick me up of energy,

132
00:08:13,930 –> 00:08:17,370
you can go and breathe in real quick and then exhale slowly,

133
00:08:17,790 –> 00:08:20,830
breathe in real quick and exhale and energize your body.

134
00:08:21,530 –> 00:08:25,350
The parasympathetic nervous system is the brake pedal in our body.

135
00:08:25,590 –> 00:08:29,250
It relaxes our body, and it’s activated when we breathe out.

136
00:08:29,790 –> 00:08:34,530
So when someone is stressed, having them breathe deeply and take more

137
00:08:34,531 –> 00:08:38,490
time on the breath out is really important if you’re tired and you want

138
00:08:38,491 –> 00:08:42,270
energy spend more time on the breath in and then let it out really

139
00:08:42,271 –> 00:08:46,270
quick. The other part of our body that’s involved in the stress responses,

140
00:08:46,410 –> 00:08:50,990
the polyvagal nerve. This is kind of the highway that connects a stimulus in

141
00:08:50,991 –> 00:08:53,610
our body systems to our brain.

142
00:08:54,270 –> 00:08:59,290
So for example, they call it our social relationships nerve.

143
00:08:59,910 –> 00:09:03,130
And so, as you think about, you know, sometimes it’s even things that we

144
00:09:03,131 –> 00:09:06,530
don’t notice in our body, like our heart rate and our heartbeat and how

145
00:09:06,531 –> 00:09:08,910
we feel when we’re in certain situations.

146
00:09:09,910 –> 00:09:14,330
There was a very interesting study done about non-burble face,

147
00:09:14,331 –> 00:09:18,290
it’s a face study. So people would have different expressions and then they would

148
00:09:18,291 –> 00:09:21,690
ask kids, you know, what is this face telling you?

149
00:09:21,910 –> 00:09:26,690
And what was interesting was that students who have a hyperact stress response

150
00:09:26,691 –> 00:09:31,410
or students who are getting ready to go through puberty lost the ability

151
00:09:31,411 –> 00:09:35,030
to read facial expressions and especially for teenagers.

152
00:09:35,390 –> 00:09:38,150
You think about, you know, we’re all worried about them all the time.

153
00:09:38,290 –> 00:09:41,130
I’m a parent with a 19 in a 22 year old.

154
00:09:41,290 –> 00:09:44,390
I can only imagine that for probably five or six years,

155
00:09:44,710 –> 00:09:47,490
my face was always concerned because you’re worried about them.

156
00:09:47,491 –> 00:09:50,090
You want to make sure they’re okay. They’re safe. they’re doing what they’re supposed

157
00:09:50,091 –> 00:09:54,830
to do. The problem is that they only interpret happiness

158
00:09:55,870 –> 00:09:59,390
or obvious surprise or obvious sadness.

159
00:09:59,610 –> 00:10:04,670
Basically, any other face, so concerned or contemplative,

160
00:10:04,671 –> 00:10:08,150
all those different kinds of faces, they interpret as anger.

161
00:10:08,990 –> 00:10:13,610
So when they interpret it as angry, then that sends a message from their

162
00:10:13,611 –> 00:10:15,950
thalamus to their amygdala that says, hey,

163
00:10:16,090 –> 00:10:18,890
somebody’s angry at me. I better like,

164
00:10:19,070 –> 00:10:23,590
show myself up and be ready to fight and so it activates that

165
00:10:23,591 –> 00:10:27,930
panic button. So one thing that I’ve always encouraged teachers and parents to do

166
00:10:27,931 –> 00:10:32,310
is name your face. So when you’re talking to a student or your child

167
00:10:32,311 –> 00:10:35,150
to be able to say, hey, this right now, this is not anger.

168
00:10:35,370 –> 00:10:39,870
I’m just worried and helping them to make that connection between what your face

169
00:10:39,871 –> 00:10:43,150
looks like and what your emotion is.

170
00:10:44,050 –> 00:10:48,370
The other thing you want to do is connect stress to the stress lives

171
00:10:48,371 –> 00:10:53,030
in our body and it can impact the the vagal nerve also impacts your

172
00:10:53,031 –> 00:10:57,390
stomach and your bowels and see you think about students who have you know

173
00:10:57,391 –> 00:11:00,670
nervous stomach or maybe they get nervous about something in the end of with

174
00:11:00,671 –> 00:11:05,230
diarrhea. So you want to connect stress to the body because the other piece

175
00:11:05,231 –> 00:11:08,630
is we may not always understand exactly how we feel.

176
00:11:08,810 –> 00:11:13,090
We may not have the words to describe the emotions we’re feeling but anybody

177
00:11:13,091 –> 00:11:15,230
can tell what their body feels like.

178
00:11:15,510 –> 00:11:19,450
So asking, what does your body feel like when it’s stressed?

179
00:11:19,890 –> 00:11:21,970
And having them make that connection, you know,

180
00:11:22,050 –> 00:11:24,290
are you somebody who starts to get shaky?

181
00:11:24,550 –> 00:11:28,850
Are you somebody who gets hot? Are you somebody who starts to fidget or

182
00:11:28,851 –> 00:11:31,630
get like, you know, jittery or bounce a leg up and down?

183
00:11:31,670 –> 00:11:34,690
Like, what are the things that I could start to notice?

184
00:11:35,090 –> 00:11:37,850
Oh, gee, I’m getting hot. What am I stressed about?

185
00:11:37,890 –> 00:11:41,030
Maybe I’m stressed. And sometimes we don’t even know where stressed.

186
00:11:41,031 –> 00:11:43,550
Have you ever had a day at the end of the day where you

187
00:11:43,551 –> 00:11:46,750
sit down and all of a sudden you’re like man my shoulders are tight

188
00:11:46,751 –> 00:11:50,970
and I didn’t even realize that I was stressed all day so connecting the

189
00:11:50,971 –> 00:11:55,490
stress to the body feelings when you do that you’re able to start to

190
00:11:55,491 –> 00:12:00,430
change that hijack stress response because now when I start to feel hot before

191
00:12:00,431 –> 00:12:04,150
I hit the panic button I’m able to say okay wait a minute my

192
00:12:04,151 –> 00:12:08,530
stress is ramping up I need to intervene and calm my body down so

193
00:12:08,531 –> 00:12:11,870
that I don’t end up in a situation where I am out of control

194
00:12:11,871 –> 00:12:16,450
from stress. The second question that you can ask is what does your body

195
00:12:16,451 –> 00:12:21,090
look like? And this can be really helpful because that way there’s a cue

196
00:12:21,091 –> 00:12:24,050
that you can look for in others to understand,

197
00:12:24,550 –> 00:12:28,190
hey, you’re getting stressed. I did this activity once with teachers and one of

198
00:12:28,191 –> 00:12:30,270
the teachers said, well, when I get stressed,

199
00:12:30,410 –> 00:12:32,970
my eyebrows go way up and her teammates were like,

200
00:12:32,971 –> 00:12:36,770
oh, yeah, they do. And so the teammates were able to look at her

201
00:12:36,771 –> 00:12:39,910
and if they’re in a team meeting and her eyebrows disappear behind her bangs.

202
00:12:40,050 –> 00:12:42,830
They know, hey, wait a minute, she’s getting stressed. Maybe we need to take

203
00:12:42,831 –> 00:12:45,450
a temperature, take a break, take a breath,

204
00:12:46,090 –> 00:12:49,610
and let everybody get calm down before we move on.

205
00:12:50,190 –> 00:12:54,270
And then the third question that’s super important is what does your brain tell

206
00:12:54,271 –> 00:12:57,050
you? And it is specifically phrased that way,

207
00:12:57,270 –> 00:12:59,710
not what are you thinking, because what are you thinking?

208
00:12:59,790 –> 00:13:03,670
Assumes that your CEO is at her desk and making decisions about what you’re

209
00:13:03,671 –> 00:13:07,470
thinking. But when the stress response has hijacked your brain,

210
00:13:07,471 –> 00:13:11,530
your CEO is out to lunch. So the person who’s doing the thinking for

211
00:13:11,531 –> 00:13:14,290
you is your amygdala and your thalamus,

212
00:13:14,470 –> 00:13:18,690
they’re the ones that are sending the messages. And so asking what does your

213
00:13:18,691 –> 00:13:23,370
brain tell you separates a person from shame or control like

214
00:13:23,371 –> 00:13:26,630
that this is some kind of a character flaw that I have and it

215
00:13:26,631 –> 00:13:29,870
helps them to say, you know what my brain is telling me that I’m

216
00:13:29,871 –> 00:13:34,650
in danger, but I’m not. And so it helps to reconnect that CEO with

217
00:13:34,651 –> 00:13:37,570
the messages that a brain might sending that aren’t accurate,

218
00:13:37,990 –> 00:13:42,030
and it reduces that sense of shame that there’s something wrong with me that

219
00:13:42,031 –> 00:13:44,550
I’m thinking that everybody hates me or that,

220
00:13:44,710 –> 00:13:47,710
you know, I’m gonna be, you know, embarrassed or whatever it is.

221
00:13:47,910 –> 00:13:51,070
You can, you can separate yourself and say, that’s just my brain telling me

222
00:13:51,071 –> 00:13:55,330
that and it’s not true. So the second part of this connecting to the

223
00:13:55,331 –> 00:13:58,650
body is once you understand how your body experiences stress,

224
00:13:59,050 –> 00:14:02,550
then you say, what can I do? So how do I regulate that system.

225
00:14:02,710 –> 00:14:06,430
How do I get that parasympathetic nervous system to calm me down?

226
00:14:06,710 –> 00:14:09,450
And where can I go to be safe so that I can find a

227
00:14:09,451 –> 00:14:12,790
spot where I can relax that stress response?

228
00:14:13,490 –> 00:14:17,090
The other pieces that are super helpful is understanding what can others do and

229
00:14:17,091 –> 00:14:21,750
what should people not do? Some people don’t want to be touched when they’re

230
00:14:21,751 –> 00:14:24,050
when they’re stressed out. Other people really want to hug.

231
00:14:24,510 –> 00:14:27,310
And if you have somebody who does not want to be touched and you

232
00:14:27,311 –> 00:14:30,790
go to give them a hug, you can actually escalate their stress.

233
00:14:30,791 –> 00:14:35,390
So, doing this kind of a chart becomes like a social contract that

234
00:14:35,391 –> 00:14:37,410
says, hey, here’s who I am.

235
00:14:37,630 –> 00:14:40,190
Here’s what I’m going to do to try to control my stress.

236
00:14:40,310 –> 00:14:42,970
And here’s how the environment can help me do that better.

237
00:14:44,050 –> 00:14:46,850
So, here’s an example of what that looks like when it’s finished.

238
00:14:47,450 –> 00:14:52,150
So, in this particular case, this was a fourth-grade boy who was

239
00:14:52,151 –> 00:14:57,330
super, super anxious about math. And he had low-working memory in his

240
00:14:57,331 –> 00:15:01,750
executive functions. and so he would struggle to remember the math.

241
00:15:01,890 –> 00:15:04,550
He would do two or three or four problems and then he couldn’t remember

242
00:15:04,551 –> 00:15:08,250
how to do the problem again. He would get super stressed out and he

243
00:15:08,251 –> 00:15:11,010
would literally have like an internal panic attack.

244
00:15:11,550 –> 00:15:14,310
And so you can see here we looked at stage one,

245
00:15:14,490 –> 00:15:18,170
stage two, and stage three. So when he first starts to get stressed,

246
00:15:18,870 –> 00:15:21,950
he starts to have his hands wet, his face might get red,

247
00:15:22,150 –> 00:15:26,050
his body might freeze, and he might not respond to if he’s talked to.

248
00:15:26,570 –> 00:15:30,650
And, you know, this is where we end up disciplining students because we don’t

249
00:15:30,651 –> 00:15:35,070
understand there having a mental health moment. So if I’m trying to talk to

250
00:15:35,071 –> 00:15:37,990
a student and he’s not responding, I’m like, oh, you’re being in subordinate.

251
00:15:38,530 –> 00:15:41,510
So now you’re in trouble. Well, that’s not really what’s going on.

252
00:15:41,530 –> 00:15:45,170
What’s going on is he is in a stress response and that’s how he

253
00:15:45,171 –> 00:15:48,590
reacts to stress. When he starts to get more stressed,

254
00:15:48,591 –> 00:15:50,890
he doesn’t know what to do. Now he’s tapping his foot.

255
00:15:50,950 –> 00:15:54,590
His shoulders are tense. He might actually start talking back to you at that

256
00:15:54,591 –> 00:15:56,670
point, which at that point we say, oh,

257
00:15:56,770 –> 00:15:59,050
you’re being defiant and we discipline them.

258
00:15:59,051 –> 00:16:03,370
When the reality is again, he’s moving into an internal panic attack.

259
00:16:03,930 –> 00:16:07,750
The third stage is he just gives up his hand shake and at this

260
00:16:07,751 –> 00:16:11,110
point he can’t even hear. So you can see just from these stages of

261
00:16:11,111 –> 00:16:15,750
stress, if we respond to this person when they’re in that state,

262
00:16:16,230 –> 00:16:19,690
how successful are we gonna be? We’re not gonna be very successful trying to

263
00:16:19,691 –> 00:16:23,070
reason or trying to just tell him to get to work,

264
00:16:23,071 –> 00:16:26,510
what we need to do instead is make sure that they understand how to

265
00:16:26,511 –> 00:16:30,730
calm their body down and that we’re doing what is necessary so that that

266
00:16:30,731 –> 00:16:33,750
student can do that. So, for example,

267
00:16:33,890 –> 00:16:36,490
in this child,

268
00:16:36,730 –> 00:16:39,090
you know, the stage is short for the first one,

269
00:16:39,210 –> 00:16:42,110
move me to a quiet space. The second,

270
00:16:42,190 –> 00:16:45,610
you know, let me take a brief break and remind me to calm my

271
00:16:45,611 –> 00:16:49,230
body down. Gover maybe the steps that I’m supposed to be doing help me

272
00:16:49,231 –> 00:16:51,250
get started. And then, you know,

273
00:16:51,290 –> 00:16:54,130
the third face is, again, he’s in a void or so it’s like let

274
00:16:54,131 –> 00:16:58,330
me leave the room for a minute. Let me let me just go call

275
00:16:58,331 –> 00:17:02,690
myself outside of this room because being in that room continues to escalate the

276
00:17:02,691 –> 00:17:06,790
stress. Using nonverbal signals to help me remember to breathe.

277
00:17:07,250 –> 00:17:10,710
You know at this point if you remember stage three he can’t hear well

278
00:17:10,711 –> 00:17:15,230
and he’s really shutting down so a nonverbal signal can really help him

279
00:17:15,231 –> 00:17:18,830
remember okay I’m really I’m really in trouble right now I just need to

280
00:17:18,831 –> 00:17:21,650
breathe and And then there’s some things there that you can see that are

281
00:17:21,651 –> 00:17:26,510
what not to do. We often times escalate situations because we don’t

282
00:17:26,511 –> 00:17:31,210
connect stress to the body and we don’t recognize the physical symptoms

283
00:17:31,211 –> 00:17:36,010
of what’s going on and the fact that we need to have de-escalation techniques

284
00:17:36,011 –> 00:17:38,890
prior to ever trying to problem solve a reason.

285
00:17:39,930 –> 00:17:42,390
So here’s what a couple of them look like with students from a high

286
00:17:42,391 –> 00:17:45,890
school. So this is a student who you can see here,

287
00:17:45,891 –> 00:17:49,390
you know, fidgety, watery eyes, this student it’s sarcastic.

288
00:17:49,930 –> 00:17:52,830
When they get to stage two, now they get spiteful.

289
00:17:53,350 –> 00:17:56,690
And so, if you are observing, first it’s sarcasm,

290
00:17:56,830 –> 00:17:59,010
so maybe your little red flag goes up that hate is,

291
00:17:59,190 –> 00:18:02,050
could start into having a stress response.

292
00:18:02,770 –> 00:18:05,670
If they start getting spiteful, you know that it’s escalated,

293
00:18:05,910 –> 00:18:09,130
and if they get to a complete shutdown or don’t talk to me,

294
00:18:09,230 –> 00:18:13,570
they’re trembling, they’re crying, then you know that there’s no point reasoning with them.

295
00:18:13,690 –> 00:18:16,150
Instead, we have to help them calm themselves down.

296
00:18:16,430 –> 00:18:20,150
And you can see here, this person’s response is leave me alone.

297
00:18:20,790 –> 00:18:22,970
What should you not do? Don’t ask me questions.

298
00:18:23,070 –> 00:18:27,010
Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. Don’t breathe in my general direction.

299
00:18:27,110 –> 00:18:29,670
So, this student needs to be able to escape.

300
00:18:29,990 –> 00:18:32,870
And you can see that the calming techniques are escape techniques.

301
00:18:33,330 –> 00:18:35,750
Let me read. Let me go for a walk.

302
00:18:36,050 –> 00:18:40,790
Let me listen to some music. On the opposite end of the spectrum is

303
00:18:40,791 –> 00:18:44,110
this child. You know, when they are feeling anxious,

304
00:18:44,130 –> 00:18:46,330
they get nervous, they start to think,

305
00:18:46,350 –> 00:18:49,230
maybe they get confused at stage two and then at stage three,

306
00:18:49,330 –> 00:18:51,370
they’re shutting down. And you can see here,

307
00:18:51,510 –> 00:18:55,170
they have some techniques to do, but what they want the teacher to do

308
00:18:55,171 –> 00:18:58,130
is to help me guide me, listen to me.

309
00:18:58,750 –> 00:19:01,730
You know, what they shouldn’t do is pressure me or keep bugging me about

310
00:19:01,731 –> 00:19:05,930
it or just awkwardly stare at me. So this is a completely different set

311
00:19:05,931 –> 00:19:09,530
of needs for this student than for the previous one.

312
00:19:09,930 –> 00:19:12,130
Then you have some students who are like, leave me alone,

313
00:19:12,430 –> 00:19:16,310
but then ask things escalate if they’re not able to take care of their

314
00:19:16,311 –> 00:19:18,670
own stress and calm their body down,

315
00:19:18,910 –> 00:19:23,490
then they need some help. So a couple things you can think

316
00:19:23,491 –> 00:19:28,130
about when you’re working with students or your child around trying to calm the

317
00:19:28,131 –> 00:19:32,130
body is that, you know, when you remember the panic button was hit,

318
00:19:32,610 –> 00:19:35,430
cortisol, adrenaline, all these chemicals flood the body.

319
00:19:35,510 –> 00:19:38,530
And at that point, the animal side of us takes over.

320
00:19:38,531 –> 00:19:41,890
We’re going to fight, we’re going to run away or we’re going to freeze,

321
00:19:42,050 –> 00:19:45,870
whatever we decide is our, you know, best mechanism for being safe.

322
00:19:46,730 –> 00:19:51,350
Water can actually metabolize cortisol. So one thing that can be really helpful is

323
00:19:51,351 –> 00:19:54,810
to give the, the kid a glass of water and just give him a

324
00:19:54,811 –> 00:19:57,110
minute. Let him drink some water, breathe,

325
00:19:57,310 –> 00:19:59,950
try some of the, the calming techniques that they have,

326
00:20:00,250 –> 00:20:03,450
and that water will speed up the amount of time that it takes for

327
00:20:03,451 –> 00:20:05,930
a body to calm down. And I’ll give you an example.

328
00:20:06,110 –> 00:20:09,710
I was working with a school for very at-risk kids and they had a

329
00:20:09,711 –> 00:20:12,510
runner who’s not like on the track team but like took off and ran

330
00:20:12,511 –> 00:20:17,070
out of the building. So the principal and I this child

331
00:20:17,071 –> 00:20:19,830
was like way down the street. So we got in the car and drove

332
00:20:19,831 –> 00:20:22,430
down the street. Normally what would you do?

333
00:20:22,610 –> 00:20:24,810
You’d put the window down and you’d be like what are you doing? Where

334
00:20:24,811 –> 00:20:28,030
are you going? Well that would just escalate him. So instead what she did

335
00:20:28,031 –> 00:20:30,710
was she rolled the window down and she said man, you never told me

336
00:20:30,711 –> 00:20:35,130
we’re such a great runner and the kind of looked at her like yeah

337
00:20:35,131 –> 00:20:38,110
and she said you know you’ve run a really long way you’re far away

338
00:20:38,111 –> 00:20:41,230
from the school. So you realize you’re gonna turn around and run all the

339
00:20:41,231 –> 00:20:44,690
way back and the kid kind of looked behind him and realized how far

340
00:20:44,691 –> 00:20:47,450
he’d gone and she said you want to ride back I’ll just give you

341
00:20:47,451 –> 00:20:50,370
a ride back. So we got in the car she handed him a bottle

342
00:20:50,371 –> 00:20:53,550
of water we said nothing on the ride back.

343
00:20:53,670 –> 00:20:56,550
Then she got to her office she put him in her office and said

344
00:20:56,551 –> 00:20:59,090
hey I just have something I need to do real quick.

345
00:20:59,470 –> 00:21:02,850
Gave him a couple more minutes let him finish the and then when she

346
00:21:02,851 –> 00:21:05,950
walked back in, she was able to say, so tell me what happened,

347
00:21:06,170 –> 00:21:10,010
what made you want to run? And now the kid unloaded everything that he

348
00:21:10,011 –> 00:21:13,290
needed to say. So you can see that understanding stress,

349
00:21:13,490 –> 00:21:15,930
and how we deal with it to prevent escalation,

350
00:21:16,170 –> 00:21:19,290
can make all the difference in the world in helping a student process that

351
00:21:19,291 –> 00:21:23,030
stress and process the behaviors that they did because of it.

352
00:21:23,690 –> 00:21:28,350
The other thing that’s kind of interesting is that our eye position actually activates

353
00:21:28,351 –> 00:21:30,530
different areas of our brain. So,

354
00:21:30,531 –> 00:21:35,130
when we are looking up, we are activating our CEO in the prefrontal cortex,

355
00:21:35,290 –> 00:21:38,390
which is why when you ask somebody a question sometimes they go,

356
00:21:38,770 –> 00:21:41,330
um, and they look up. It’s just an automatic thing that says,

357
00:21:41,670 –> 00:21:44,270
hey, wake up CEO. In the middle,

358
00:21:44,330 –> 00:21:46,770
if we’re looking around outside our eyes,

359
00:21:46,890 –> 00:21:49,750
ears, nose, who’s in charge, phalamus,

360
00:21:49,850 –> 00:21:53,450
he’s getting all of the information. Our data manager is on overdrive saying,

361
00:21:53,490 –> 00:21:55,530
hey, what’s going on in our environment? What are we hearing?

362
00:21:55,590 –> 00:21:58,030
What are we seeing? And he’s busy writing that report.

363
00:21:58,031 –> 00:22:02,730
When we look down, our limbic system is activated,

364
00:22:03,010 –> 00:22:05,930
and so you’re amygdala and that’s security response,

365
00:22:06,370 –> 00:22:08,930
and so you think about when you get in trouble,

366
00:22:09,030 –> 00:22:12,250
what do you do, or if you’re ashamed, you oftentimes without even thinking about

367
00:22:12,251 –> 00:22:16,610
it, you look down. So another piece that’s really important to help in calm

368
00:22:16,611 –> 00:22:19,030
that stress brain is to look up,

369
00:22:19,330 –> 00:22:23,950
because that will take away that limbic system constant reinforcement,

370
00:22:24,490 –> 00:22:27,430
and it’ll who the CEO to say, hey, time to come back from lunch

371
00:22:27,431 –> 00:22:30,270
and start having a conversation with this body of yours.

372
00:22:30,770 –> 00:22:34,090
And so another thing that I’ve seen work really well is to create a

373
00:22:34,091 –> 00:22:37,930
calming corner with a bean bag or something that you’re kind of lying backward,

374
00:22:38,250 –> 00:22:42,570
reclined a little bit. You can put some fun relaxing pictures on the ceiling,

375
00:22:42,830 –> 00:22:45,570
so it gives you something to look at. So you know,

376
00:22:45,930 –> 00:22:48,650
you drink in a glass of water, and lean in back, looking up,

377
00:22:48,690 –> 00:22:51,270
and all of a sudden that body temperature goes down,

378
00:22:51,271 –> 00:22:53,770
that body stress response goes down,

379
00:22:53,771 –> 00:22:57,350
and it allows us to reason our way out of stress.

380
00:22:59,370 –> 00:23:03,530
So in understanding how we can help students,

381
00:23:03,870 –> 00:23:06,310
that name it on it, control it, that name it on it,

382
00:23:06,490 –> 00:23:09,510
control it plan is a reactive solution.

383
00:23:09,830 –> 00:23:13,390
It’s planning for stress. It’s saying, here’s how I experience it,

384
00:23:13,391 –> 00:23:16,170
here’s how I’m gonna call my body, and here’s what I need from my

385
00:23:16,171 –> 00:23:20,250
environment to call my body. But the way that our brain learns,

386
00:23:20,251 –> 00:23:23,810
If we want to be proactive to avoid stress,

387
00:23:24,190 –> 00:23:26,430
is to understand we learn through repetition,

388
00:23:27,050 –> 00:23:29,370
experience and emotion. So,

389
00:23:29,371 –> 00:23:31,650
you know, you think about learning math.

390
00:23:31,970 –> 00:23:34,790
We regularly daily practice math facts.

391
00:23:34,890 –> 00:23:37,730
It’s that repetition, it’s that experience of every day,

392
00:23:37,990 –> 00:23:40,610
and maybe it’s the emotion of getting a good score.

393
00:23:41,470 –> 00:23:43,550
If the emotion is high enough,

394
00:23:43,790 –> 00:23:46,250
then we don’t need as much repetition. So,

395
00:23:46,251 –> 00:23:49,470
you know, I have two kids. I don’t need 12 kids to remember the

396
00:23:49,471 –> 00:23:54,090
birth experience and completely understand the first few weeks of trying

397
00:23:54,091 –> 00:23:56,150
to take care of a baby, it was highly emotional.

398
00:23:57,450 –> 00:24:00,890
So our brain learns through this repetition experience and emotion,

399
00:24:00,930 –> 00:24:03,710
we’re kind of like a highway. So when we’re born,

400
00:24:03,910 –> 00:24:06,310
our brains just a giant field of grass.

401
00:24:07,050 –> 00:24:11,590
And then through repetition, we start to build roads on our highway

402
00:24:11,591 –> 00:24:13,730
with off ramps. So for example,

403
00:24:13,810 –> 00:24:17,770
when I’m first born, I cry when I’m wet or when I’m hungry.

404
00:24:17,771 –> 00:24:20,370
And that’s my when I’m wet or hungry,

405
00:24:20,630 –> 00:24:25,110
then I cry. But then that then from crying is replaced with when I

406
00:24:25,111 –> 00:24:29,350
cry, my mom comes to me and either feeds me or takes care of

407
00:24:29,351 –> 00:24:32,970
my needs or changes my diaper or my dad comes and picks me up.

408
00:24:33,530 –> 00:24:37,990
So you start to develop these pathways in your brain when then plans.

409
00:24:39,150 –> 00:24:41,350
You know, sometimes we develop really bad offerings.

410
00:24:42,110 –> 00:24:44,530
So you know, as adults, we might say, man, I’ve had a hard day.

411
00:24:44,570 –> 00:24:46,810
I need a drink, right? We don’t really need to drink.

412
00:24:46,990 –> 00:24:49,310
It’s probably the worst thing for you because it’s a depression.

413
00:24:49,650 –> 00:24:51,950
However, we get on this like automatic,

414
00:24:52,150 –> 00:24:54,790
man, I’ve had a bad day get off at that exit and I’m going

415
00:24:54,791 –> 00:24:59,130
to do something that’s unhealthy. As we want to be healthier,

416
00:24:59,490 –> 00:25:03,190
we need to think about what are the offerings that lead us to opportunities,

417
00:25:03,510 –> 00:25:05,550
to better choices, to happier life,

418
00:25:05,890 –> 00:25:10,750
but it takes time and repetition and emotion and celebration and experience

419
00:25:10,751 –> 00:25:15,530
to get there. So you can use something called a when-than-plan to help

420
00:25:15,531 –> 00:25:18,530
students start to build those highways in their brain.

421
00:25:19,590 –> 00:25:24,390
So repeated experiences build those off-ramps and it can be really hard to resist.

422
00:25:25,010 –> 00:25:27,910
So you know, sometimes we have students who, for whatever reason,

423
00:25:28,090 –> 00:25:32,350
their life has continually taken them to the wrong exit on the highway.

424
00:25:32,670 –> 00:25:34,830
But just like if you’ve ever been on the highway and you have to

425
00:25:34,831 –> 00:25:38,350
use the restroom, you want to get off at the fastest exit you can

426
00:25:38,351 –> 00:25:40,910
find to go to the restroom. So let’s say you get off in an

427
00:25:40,911 –> 00:25:43,470
exit and you go to a horrible part of town and you end up

428
00:25:43,471 –> 00:25:46,010
getting mugged or your car gets stolen.

429
00:25:46,410 –> 00:25:48,670
Well then the next time you get off at that exit and you end

430
00:25:48,671 –> 00:25:51,470
up with the same outcome. The next time you get off at that exit.

431
00:25:51,910 –> 00:25:56,110
So some people’s lives have been driven to the wrong exit.

432
00:25:56,170 –> 00:26:00,270
However, what’s important to remember is what we are asking the brain to do

433
00:26:00,271 –> 00:26:04,610
when we’re building a new exit is we’re asking that brain to stay in

434
00:26:04,611 –> 00:26:07,570
pain longer. So if you have to go to the bathroom,

435
00:26:07,571 –> 00:26:09,870
maybe the next exit is not for five miles.

436
00:26:10,350 –> 00:26:14,290
You have to stay uncomfortable but until you get to the exit that takes

437
00:26:14,291 –> 00:26:16,910
you to the better part of town where you’re not going to have your

438
00:26:16,911 –> 00:26:21,030
car stolen or get beat up. So as we think of those highways in

439
00:26:21,031 –> 00:26:25,230
our brain, we need to think about how do we do it enough that

440
00:26:25,231 –> 00:26:29,990
repetition and that experience and that emotion so that that exit becomes

441
00:26:29,991 –> 00:26:33,990
our automatic off ramp and the exit to the bad part of town gets

442
00:26:33,991 –> 00:26:37,790
overgrown and it’s more work than it’s worth to go off that exit.

443
00:26:38,530 –> 00:26:41,310
So what a win then plan looks like is you think about what are

444
00:26:41,311 –> 00:26:45,650
the things that trigger your stress? So in this particular example,

445
00:26:45,930 –> 00:26:49,790
this was a student who got super stressed when they got stuck and forgot

446
00:26:49,791 –> 00:26:53,530
what they just learned, or if they were being told to use a certain

447
00:26:53,531 –> 00:26:57,790
method and they didn’t understand that method or they liked the methods that they

448
00:26:57,791 –> 00:27:01,330
used. And we see this a lot in math because math is taught,

449
00:27:01,331 –> 00:27:05,030
you know, students are taught to solve math problems in multiple ways,

450
00:27:05,110 –> 00:27:07,410
using multiple different processes. Well,

451
00:27:07,450 –> 00:27:12,070
sometimes a kid might like one process over another and really resist using a

452
00:27:12,071 –> 00:27:15,310
different process and it stresses them out because now they don’t feel capable.

453
00:27:15,390 –> 00:27:19,730
They don’t feel knowledgeable. Maybe they don’t understand the lesson or they need to

454
00:27:19,731 –> 00:27:22,010
get their math completed or they just don’t get it.

455
00:27:22,050 –> 00:27:25,830
So these were the stressors that would lead this child to shut down.

456
00:27:26,370 –> 00:27:29,790
So if you remember, your CEO is out to lunch when you have a

457
00:27:29,791 –> 00:27:33,890
stress reaction. So, if the when statements are the things that cause a stress

458
00:27:33,891 –> 00:27:38,470
reaction, then if you get into the moment where you start to

459
00:27:38,471 –> 00:27:41,810
feel that stress and you start to send your CEO out to lunch,

460
00:27:42,430 –> 00:27:45,050
you need an intervention. You need something right then.

461
00:27:45,270 –> 00:27:48,630
So, in this particular case, that’s the then part of the when then plan.

462
00:27:49,170 –> 00:27:51,530
So, if I get stuck and forget what I just learned,

463
00:27:51,890 –> 00:27:54,710
I’m gonna write the steps to the problem and I’m gonna have the teacher

464
00:27:54,711 –> 00:27:57,650
check that I have them down and help me think of ways to remember

465
00:27:57,651 –> 00:27:59,850
them. So it seems simple, you know,

466
00:27:59,851 –> 00:28:02,390
if I don’t understand the lesson, I’ll raise my hand and ask.

467
00:28:02,770 –> 00:28:07,310
But remember when you get into that stress and the stages of stress escalate

468
00:28:07,311 –> 00:28:09,370
and for some people they escalate super fast,

469
00:28:09,490 –> 00:28:12,950
they go from 0 to 3. Other people can live in mild stress for

470
00:28:12,951 –> 00:28:16,170
a long time. But when you get to that point where you’re truly at

471
00:28:16,171 –> 00:28:20,630
a crisis point, you don’t have the mental acuity all the time to reason

472
00:28:20,631 –> 00:28:23,450
through. And so having this written down,

473
00:28:23,451 –> 00:28:26,870
so what we did is we did when then plans and then we had

474
00:28:26,871 –> 00:28:31,170
them taped to the desk. So that way the student has their name at

475
00:28:31,171 –> 00:28:34,930
own it control it plan that says, okay, this is how I experienced stress

476
00:28:34,931 –> 00:28:39,050
in my body. So now they’re starting to get more self-aware of how they

477
00:28:39,051 –> 00:28:42,370
experienced stress. So when they start to feel those physical symptoms,

478
00:28:42,371 –> 00:28:44,590
they can look down at their desk and say, okay,

479
00:28:44,950 –> 00:28:49,350
which one of these when statements is happening right now and what should I

480
00:28:49,351 –> 00:28:53,250
do? And so these when then plans can prevent stress and they can also

481
00:28:53,251 –> 00:28:57,250
become an intervention and to calm that body down before we’re out of control.

482
00:28:59,410 –> 00:29:03,350
So hopefully this was interesting to you and gave you some practical suggestions of

483
00:29:03,351 –> 00:29:07,130
things you can do, and a little bit more understanding about how the brain

484
00:29:07,131 –> 00:29:11,010
processes stress and what happens when we have a hijack stress response.

Leave a comment

Sign in to post your comment or sign up if you don't have an account.

Recent Posts

Engage with JAKAPA