hello and welcome to the autism 360 podcast the 360 method a podcast where we talk about everything autism 360. each week we’ll be catching up with what’s going on in the program chatting with team members and talking all things mindset as well as exploring relevant ideas that autism parents think about so i’m your host ella bailey and each week i am lucky enough to be joined by the delightful renee welcome back renee hello it’s great to be back ella i have missed our podcast and all our wonderful parents out there so hello everyone yes welcome to you our lovely listeners um we care about you we care about your thoughts your experiences of the podcast so please whether you’re a program member or not please do reach out to us at hello autism360.com we would love to hear from you and that is where parents can also drop us questions comments anything that you’d like to be addressed on the podcast so before we start um i’d like to acknowledge the radical people of the eora nation on whose land i live and work and from where this podcast is being broadcast today today’s podcast does not substitute for medical advice um if you’re worried about yourself or your child please do reach out to a medical or allied health professional.
Topic of the day: Breaking the cycle Of stress and anxiety
So today what are we talking about renee so today we’re looking at i think which is a very common topic stress and anxiety so i think everyone can relate to that particularly parents um it’s it’s a really important topic so we’re going to look at how you can overcome that how you can manage that and yeah really reduce those those feelings if you are struggling with stress and anxiety yes i know it is such a common one for parents isn’t it we’re getting a lot of parents on the program at the moment who are really feeling that sort of not quite halfway through the year feeling and feeling quite um overwhelmed with everything that’s going on it’s something that i certainly see a lot of in the program so what are your main thoughts that we’re going to be chatting about today yes so look you know this is one that i think everyone deals with on some level and um if it gets to that point where you really are struggling obviously reach out and get some more support but today we’re going to share some tips with you how you can manage that.
Tip #1: When running empty, where is your cup right now?
So my first tip is look i think sometimes when we are running on empty that’s when things really do get to us you know it’s like when we’re feeling good and our cup is full we’re able to deal with things so much better and i think a lot of the time our parents are just really running on empty they are giving so much of themselves in every way in so many directions um that they’re just running on empty and when we’re at that point obviously everything feels bigger seems bigger can start feel overwhelming and um and our stress level is obviously going to be higher so my first tip is is to look at you know first of all where is your cup right now look at you know if you’re going to gauge that are you a bit on empty are you a bit halfway maybe you know you’re doing quite well and it’s sort of almost full but just check in with where you are at the moment and then the key is to look at how you can fill your cup up okay and the thing is is that as parents i think sometimes we think it’s selfish to do things for ourself or you know we there’s that guilt of oh no but i’ve got so much to do i couldn’t possibly go out and have a walk um once you know once a day or um find that time just to you know for me but it is so important because we can’t pour from an empty cup and if you want to be at your best and be able to keep giving you need to replenish that cup you need to fill yourself up and find those things that help you feel good so exercise things like that you know can you get out and just find 20 minutes to just walk outside get some fresh air um maybe it’s doing some meditation i often say to parents at night look you know when you’re in bed at night five or ten minutes just to have some meditation time for yourself they’re things that we can fit into our day you know i know a lot of parents don’t have a lot of time so it’s just looking at where you can find that time for yourself to replenish yourself if you’re sitting on social media and things like that not really going to be quality time to fill your cup up it probably leaves you feeling a bit more empty if you’re honest at times because then there’s that comparison about oh well all these people are living these great lives you know um and and i’m dealing with this so i just wouldn’t make that time you have for yourself quality time look at you know where can i get those small chunks of time for myself to fill my own cup up because when you do that you know when you feel good and your child’s being difficult it’s like oh i can handle that you know i’m not totally i’m not feeling depleted like you know i’m gonna break it any moment so my first tip is to fill your cup up and look at what you can do and make that a priority because you’ll be a better parent you’ll be a better partner you’ll be you know a better person you’ll be happier and everyone benefits from that so i think that it’s an obvious one but it is one that i really encourage you to just look at what can you do regularly to manage yourself your state all of those things are super important what do you think ella that is a super interesting point and my thought was do you think parents know innately where their cup is or do you think it takes time to learn how to read yourself to know how stressed or not stressed you are what do you think what do you see yeah look i think it’s one of those things that when you start being mindful of it you become a bit more aware so anytime i ask in the group session where are you right now everyone knows straight away they’re like i want empty my cup has disappeared usually not great um and it’s just taking that time to just actually check in with ourself and go where am i okay i need to manage this and not when things are at that breaking point but have things regularly to fill it up that is that is the difference so that each week you go well i know that’s for me um i’m not saying be unrealistic like go off and have you know a three-hour lunch things like that nice if you can catch up with friends and things but just look at what are those things that really fill you up and make some time for that during the week make that a priority yeah yeah so that that is my first tip for today.
Tip #2: What are you focusing on?
The second one is like what are you focusing on okay because whenever we feel like you know we’re going into anxiety or stress or um that sort of negative mindset it’s usually when we’re focusing on what’s missing or what’s lacking in some way and this is where things like social media like i just mentioned can really make that so much worse because all of a sudden we’re focusing on this child’s doing that someone says child’s doing this and and i do hear a lot of that on the program like people comparing their children to what other people are doing our you know their where they’re at so i think the key is to look at rather than what’s missing what’s lacking um to turn your attention on to what is working well for you and your child um what are your achievements and what you know what can you build on that is positive because when you shift your mindset and go well actually my child’s got really lovely qualities they’re really kind they’re very caring you know they have got all these lovely gifts that um is unique to them and i think when we focus on those things we we we feel so much better we feel happier and there it reduces a lot of that anxiety about worrying about our children or you know what what’s their life like all of that stuff that we project into the future so i think it’s just looking at you know what can i be grateful for and um coming back to focusing on those positive things rather than what’s missing to what what’s working for us oh well actually you know what when i start focusing on all those things there’s a lot that’s going really well and i’ve actually got a lot to be grateful for so i think that’s something that a lot of us get caught in that trap so i really encourage you to focus on what are your achievements what have you what’s your child achieving what are their lovely qualities and and what are you grateful for so shifting your attention you’ll notice you’ll instantly feel better and what we focus on is what grows the more you’re focusing on that the more you’re going to see that as well rather than all those things you know that feels like it’s not how you want it to be or is missing in some way what do you think yeah i think um it’s so interesting what you said about that social media thing and i think um that that experience of fomo that people get that fear that they’re somehow missing out that they’re i don’t know being held back in some way is so exacerbated by that social media thing and i like to reclaim fomo and turn it into a jomo the joy of missing out on things that aren’t for us you know reclaim reclaim that experience of you know what maybe their life is like that maybe it’s not it’s social media but even if it was the joy of missing out on things that aren’t for me and claiming what is ours you know i love that’s my thought i love that so good and um you know just by shifting our focus it really changes how we feel um so you know try it and just see how you instantly feel better so our mind is very powerful.
Tip #3: Projecting the future
And the last one is really um you know anxiety is really just fear that is projected into the future when we’re focusing on what we don’t want or what you know what we’re worried about for the future and this is something i see a lot of parents on the program doing where they’re really worried about all these things in the future um and really looking at what they’re scared of happening so one of the things i like to do is get them to look at we do a future vision session where we step out towards the end of their life and just actually see what you know if you were to have achieved everything you’ve wanted living your best life what is it that you see and you feel in the future for you and your family and as soon as they go out to that place it is just beautiful you see that instantly shift their focus they feel peaceful they feel calm and they see that bigger picture again and i think that’s so important because we can get a bit stuck in the weeds like this is never going to change my child’s never going to get this or whatever all those things that are going on so i would suggest first of all take a step back look at the bigger picture again look at that future that you want to work towards because what we’re focusing on is what we’re moving towards so the more we focus on what we don’t want what we’re scared of the more we’re actually moving in that direction and creating that so shift your focus even if you have to literally get your head and go we’re not going that way we’re going this way what is it that you want for your future for your family and really just stay focused on that you will instantly feel better more positive more in control but you’ll also be creating the things that you want rather than moving in the direction of what you don’t want or what you’re you know fearful of so that is a really powerful exercise obviously we won’t do the whole exercise here today but um you know maybe it’s one you just want to try at home and and step out and just see that bigger picture again what is it that we want this is our you know us living our our life that we want to move towards our vision for our family and really then break it down okay what do we need to do towards that that’ll just give you that different perspective so um i think that’s an important one as well absolutely.
Elle’s Book suggestion: The Confident Mind Dr N, Zinsser.
I’m reading this excellent book at the moment which i think you would really like it’s called the confident mind by dr nate zindler zinzler rather and he talks so much about the neurological underpinnings of things like envisaging your future of the things about not focusing on on what you want and it’s so interesting the more that we um establish those neurological pathways those neuro neurobiological tracts thinking about the things that we that we do want that we do want to focus on that we do want to move our lives towards the more our brain responds and becomes efficient in creating that reality for us absolutely right how’s our brains it is amazing and we all have a reticular activating system which is like our filter system so once it’s programmed to look for something it will find more of that so it will find a way to achieve those goals once you have those goals um and so it’s so powerful to really as you said to focus on those things because that your mind will find a way to help you achieve that rather than moving in the direction of what you don’t want um and it also comes back to what you’re focusing on because when we’re focusing on the lack and the negative our reticular activating system looks for more evidence of that so again that’s why it’s so important to shift our focus because then we’re programmed to look for things that are working and what we want and more positive things and that breeds that success cycle um so yeah it’s it’s great sounds like a great porkela yes it’s such a good one absolutely yeah so there they would be my top tips
Tip #4: Self Talk
I guess one last one i just wanted to point out was our self-talk um because self-talk is really powerful as well and so i guess i’ve got four tips today love it but um i do an exercise with people in the group where we go through their day and they actually close their eyes and look at what do i say to myself throughout the day when i’m getting ready when i’m going through the day and looking at how positive or negative that self-talk is because if you’re constantly saying to yourself i’m so stressed i’m so anxious my anxiety you know those things are actually really creating more and more of that whatever we’re saying to ourselves we are programming ourselves so we need to really keep that self-talk positive so i would really encourage you to have an affirmation something that where you’re saying to yourself over and over again that something like uh you know i am safe and all is well in my world that’s just a really beautiful one that i think resonates with a lot of people another.
Ella’s tip: What your role in your child emotion
Nice one might be i’m feeling calmer and karma every day now at the moment maybe that doesn’t feel real but the more you say it the more you are programming yourself at the subconscious level and that becomes your new reality so you start saying those things so if you go into that i’m so stressed no stop i i’m feeling calmer and calmer every day so that self-talk really important and i would really encourage you to write down an affirmation something that feels good to you and use that as often as you possibly can yeah yeah so um what about you ella what are your tips for today well i mean there was a lot of areas that i feel like we could talk about in terms of stress and anxiety and i wanted to kind of mention the relationship that parents and their kids have kind of in reference to stress and anxiety so my um my clients talk a lot about the role that their stress and anxiety plays on their children’s stress and anxiety and i think that that is you know part of the journey of being an autism parent or you know a parent in general i would say um and understanding okay well what role do my own emotions play in my child’s emotions absolutely right it’s such a big part of the puzzle so i kind of want to bring in all right well we’re stressed we’re anxious we’re kind of elevated what’s happening to our kids where are they at how is it affecting them so there’s some really interesting research uh by dr steven porges and he’s put forward a couple of theories around the way that um not just parental or caregiver um agitation stress levels but really any interrelational stress levels are affected by um uh by each other by anybody who we’re in relationship with in in whatever form that might be so that could be a teacher or a psychologist it could be a colleague and most primarily especially for children and in our context it’s that carer-parent relationship so he talks a lot about co-regulation um and the polyvagal theory which you can google it it’s you know this isn’t that’s not the time but um i want to kind of um get our parents to have a think about okay when my child was an infant um we were so uh connected with how that that child was feeling and we knew instinctively or you know with practice and understanding them ways that we could use our own regulation to regulate our child so the most common example of this is something like breastfeeding or cuddling and rocking or humming and singing to a child having eye contact skin to skin contact a cuddle any of those things were so key to regulating our child’s emotions right and so there’s a whole lot of complex hormonal stuff that goes on there but the key endocrine element that goes on here is the release of oxytocin and so oxytocin is our bonding and calming uh chemical we love oxytocin over here we’re big fans and um oxytocin can continue to be released by any interpersonal um positive interactions for you know the length of our child’s um development so often after they lose that really physical physiological dependence on us to help them move around feed themselves those sorts of things we also can get in this cycle of not realizing that they’re still really emotionally dependent on us to regulate them they don’t need us to move them around anymore but they need us to move their emotions around so my big things are have a look into where your emotions are at with uh with respect to your child does you know when you’re you’re feeling anxious and stressed you’re in a rush that kind of thing what does your child’s behavior do when you’re feeling super zen you’ve just had i don’t know a long weekend full of chocolates um you’re feeling like you can handle anything how’s your child’s behavior looking what do their meltdowns look like are they shorter because you’re able to bring them to you and soothe them what does that mean you know um there’s a really interesting uh process called neurosection which um lac rene mentioned before goes on at a kind of pre-conscious level which is your child’s um neurobiological receptors in their brain um called neurons kind of vibrating to use a kind of metaphor at a similar frequency to yours right they have this sense of okay this person is calm they’re they’re reading your facial expressions subconsciously they’re reading your body language the tone in your voice to know am i safe or am i unsafe in this situation so be conscious of the message that you’re sending them you know be aware that you are their emotional um their emotional bedrock you know and use that to help both yourself and your child so i’d really um urge you to look into um your own emotions your own stress levels and see how you can um connect with your child to co-regulate um and to make the most of that connection that you really can have with your child through co-regulation because it can be incredibly powerful and also incredibly um unhelpful if we’re not super aware of it so that’s kind of my little um adjunct there but we have a really.
Interesting question um that i’m going to ask renee from one of our lovely listeners her name’s rachel um and she’s from fremantle and she asks i feel like i have so many plates spinning that when my son who’s 12 can’t cope with something i don’t have time to talk him through it and he ends up escalating further any advice what do you reckon well i think it comes back to um that maintenance of of um managing yourself to start with to the point where you know we’re talking about filling our cup up so that when we can cope better just in general with things so you know if you are taking that time out for yourself and as ella said like you know our anxiety levels actually infla impact our children i know myself when i’m um in the past if i’ve been really stressed or anxious my children are mucking up like and it’s crazy you know like i’m sure every parent goes yeah so i can see that direct correlation so i think the key is to get manage yourself ongoing manage your state um because when you’re managing yourself filling your cup up consistently you are able to manage things better and it’s not getting to that point where you just can’t be there for your children because you’re so stressed out or um you know you’re not coping yourself and that’s why it’s really important to manage your own emotions your own well-being self-care extremely important because it will help you go oh you know what i actually have got something to give here because i’m not running on empty and it sounds to me like maybe that’s what’s going on is that you know maybe rachel you are feeling like you’re a bit on empty so i would look at what can i do to to fill myself up regularly look after myself because that’s where you can have more time and energy for your son without feeling like you’ve just got nothing left to give so i think that would be the um the key thing there obviously prioritizing our time and being organized things like that come into that as well but i i feel like the biggest thing with that is probably just filling your cup up um so that you’re able to give more when you know whenever your son needs that yeah absolutely and i think um the only thing that i would add rachel is that um examine your plates how many plates do you have why are they there are they serving you are they serving um mr 12 year old and um what are the structures that are underpinning that how are you creating your life to yourself and success mr 12 year old up for success in terms of being able to cope you know there’s a lot of pressures on families and i think if we can at least really critically engage with the things that we’re adding into our life that you know our big rocks that renee talks about examine your big rocks can we throw some of them out we love to throw out a big rock over here and i think um you know really addressing it at that fundamental level do you know what is the this big shift that we can make um is really going to have the most massive trickle-down effect rachel i hope that helps please um reach out to us if you would like to um get some more detailed advice or you know get some coaching sessions happening we would love to be able to support you um so finally renee did you have any quickfire action points for our parents this week well i you know i always like to ask the parents what is the biggest thing that you’re taking from today’s session uh or what we’ve shared today i’m sure there’s more than one but just want you to reflect on that for a moment and also what can you action from that today so even just putting into place at least one thing that you go right you know i know that i need to start doing that or i’m going to action that straight away so my question is what can you action from that today uh get that happening you know that momentum creates momentum so just even making one change can really make a big difference great and i think um uh i think i would say that um if you are worried about this kind of thing um the most important thing you could do is to slow down you know if we can do that.
even just um a few minutes to give yourself some time to think that’s going to be a great step in the right direction so thank you so much for listening to the autism 360 podcast 360 method today we will see you back next week um and until then 360.