Stress is different for everyone While what happens in the brain and the body is the same for all of us, the precipitating factors are very

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2 Stress is different for everyone While what happens in the brain and the body is the same for all of us, the precipitating factors are very individual. What one person experiences as stressful might not be for someone else. So stress is actually not about what is happening, but about how we REACT to what is happening. That means that stress is about the person, not the situation we can t control anything, honestly we can only control how we respond 2

3 What stresses people out is very individual but there are certain common themes for people with ADHD. Some of us are stressed out by organization, planning, management trying to keep a handle on everything in our lives 3

4 Some are stressed by time either because we have no time awareness so we re late all the time; (now and not now), or because we don t do well when we re rushed (REALLY common for kids/families), Or because we hate time pressure situations (some kids thrive on the competition, others shut down completely) 4

5 Some of us are stressed out by the challenges of communication, especially with the emotional intensity of ADHD 5

6 Some are stressed out because we aren t managing our lives or our selves the way we wish we could, or think we should 6

7 And some because the pressure of responsibilities is weighing on us all the time; Or maybe because other people in our lives aren t handling THEIR stress very well! 7

8 8

9 We consider the 6 key challenge areas that almost All families with Complex kids have to deal with. all the challenges you might be facing that could be causing stress in the first place! To be: Emotionality & Impulsivity School Challenges Life Logistics Relationships Impact on Parents Organization And most of us experience a lot of stress in at least a few of these areas! 9

10 let s start at the beginning What is stress? really, Stress is about energy when the brain feels threatened, it releases hormones hormones produce Energy When we sense danger the body responds in a fast & automatic process known as the fight or flight reaction, the stress response. When the we become stressed, the body produces hormones such as cortisol and these hormones send energy to our muscles, increasing heart rate & blood pressure & breathing rate. Cortisol Racing and Blood runs to the Feet Amygdala Hijack leaves the frontal lobe and moves to the primitive brain no longer able to access reason in quite the same way Stress is a normal and automatic physical response to something that makes you feel threatened or upsets your balance in some way. The stress response is the body s way of protecting us. When it works, it helps us stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save our lives giving us extra strength to defend ourselves, or getting us to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. While it s helpful in some ways, there are two key problems with stress: 1.beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to health, mood, productivity, relationships, and quality of life. Long term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Early warning signs of Stress Increased alcohol Increased caffeine Increased Sugar/Chocolate Disruption of sleep What are some of the long term impacts of stress? Pain of any kind, Heart disease, Digestive problems, Sleep problems,depression, Obesity, Autoimmune diseases, Skin conditions, such as eczema First problem. Second problem 10

11 The second problem is that The body doesn t distinguish between physical and psychological threats; real or imagined When you re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life ordeath situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be on most of the time. The more your body s stress system is activated, the easier it is to trip on and the harder it is to shut off. So your Brain reacts identically to the guy with the gun 11

12 As it does to the stress of late taxes it s like a toggle switch on or off 12

13 May be hard to see it this way, but. Stress is not caused by the thing that is happening, its caused by OUR reaction to it our thoughts and feelings around it Remember that I said earlier that stress is about energy the cortisol gets released and your blood starts going to your feet as your body begins to heat up This is actually called catabolic energy that flight or fight energy that we get when we are threatened, or triggered. 13

14 So let s start with the first, ideal action for managing yourself in the face of emotional upset: Stay Calm, and Avoid Entering the Stress Cycle: When an upsetting event occurs, our brains assess the danger. If it feels threatening enough, our primitive brains take over and we enter into a Stress Cycle. Our brains literally start thinking about our feet, and we respond in one of 3 ways: Flight, Fight or Freeze. Once we are in this cycle, we can t really think reasonably, and we are not operating from a place of higher brain function we are stuck in our primitive brain. As parents, we don t have as much to offer our kids when we are in this cycle unless, of course, we re trying to help them escape an attacking grizzly bear! But for the average meltdown, the more reasonable we can be as parents that is, the more we stay connected to our higher brain function the better the outcome will be for everyone. So, HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT when your child is swimming on the floor in the grocery store, embarrassing you more than your parents embarrassed you when you were a teen? 14

15 There are 3 aspects to managing stress MORE of course, but for the purposes of this conversation, we want to focus on 3 Practice Calm Escape the Stress Cycle when you re in it Address your Challenges First focus on yourself, and STAY CALM. Sometimes, you just can t prevent your child from getting upset it s going to happen. We often say that you CAN T CONTROL what happens, but you CAN CONTROL how you RESPOND to what happens. So take some deep breaths, try to ignore the people who might be staring at you, and focus all of your attention on keeping yourself calm. You might need to take a time out for yourself, or sit down and prepare to wait. Whatever it takes for you to start dealing with the situation with a feeling of composure. A huge piece of this is to focus on yourself and your child and try to forget about the judgment arrows that you feel piercing you from the outside world. 15

16 2nd way to Manage Stress Is to ESCAPE the Threat cycle There are 4 Steps to Breaking Free from the Stress Cycle once you re already in it: First, Recognize the Threat Pay attention to your reaction, and notice that you are beginning to lose it. Acknowledge that you re stressing and decide you want to do something to stop the cycle. Next, Reset your Brain Take a deep breath, drink a few sips of water (seriously not soda or coffee the primitive brain recognizes the water as a sign of safety, like at a watering hole). Take a moment to pause and re group. A few moments of pause can shorten the meltdown, not prolong it. Then, Choose a Perspective When we are stressed, we are usually telling our self a story that doesn t really help the situation, like all these people are looking at me, or this kid is a spoiled brat, or I just can t handle this anymore. Those messages only makes things worse. So seriously, we mean this make up a new story that could be helpful. For example, I want to help my child and not worry about what other people are thinking, or my child is really having a hard time here, or I can do this, I just need to stay calm these are all stories that can be helpful. (we ve got a blog for you to read about this, too we ll share it at the end of this module) Finally, Re direct your Action Start Again, this time with your new story as your guide. Use the new story to make some conscious decisions about how you want to move forward. The focus, this time, is to operate from your higher brain function, not from your primitive brain! 16

17 Once you learn how to start escaping the stress cycle what happens after that is magic It s about understanding your triggers, what stresses you, what threatens you and instead of reacting, you respond If you can break the stress cycle, you have access to the problem solving part of the brain More ability to access Cognitive Function which is a BIG deal for those of us with ADHD, who are already starting with challenges in that area. If you are able to respond with something other than stress, research shows you can be More productive More satistisfied More financially stable More conscious & engaged in life 17

18 At Impact, we ve developed an Action Model to manage all of the complications that ADHD life throws at us It s a 5 step process for addressing any challenging situation that comes with ADHD or frankly, with life because while we designed it for parenting, we ve realized that it works for every challenge we face which means it s a great way to navigate ourselves out of potentially stressful situations. Once you learn to stop getting triggered, The way to navigate stressors is by tackling them directly and clearly, using the Action model, which includes the 4 Critical Response Areas for planning action Which are Activating the Brain, Positivity, Shifting Expectations and Using Systems & Structures I can t go into that in a lot of detail here there s information below about the ADHD Parent Manual that really gives you this model in a usable way. 18

19 Pitch start 19

20 20

21 Want to tell you about something we ve created that will help you manage the stress of living with or raising kids with ADHD. 21

22 22

23 23

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