In today's show we speak with Dr Yvonne Quinn, a clinical psychologist who specialises in resilience and wellness and helps kids and adults be the boss of their worries.
We talk about how feeling worried or anxious sometimes is perfectly normal; that most people will have worries at different times of their lives. And how after all the massive changes that Coronavirus has had on life, it is understandable that many kids will have experienced some worries and perhaps some anxiety during this time.
Buster and Buddy learn about the science behind the feelings we get in our body when we have worries, and how kids can take charge of these worries with some great tips and tools...letting them get back into the Drivers Seat of their worries!
And remember to Stay Healthy, Stay Happyand Stay Well!
Michelle and her team have a collective 50years experience working with kids as teachers, entertainers and parents!
Check out our website to see more about the team, our guests, the topics we talk about, our competitions AND how to send us in your stories, jokes, comments or ideas for the podcast!
With thanks to Zapsplat and Audio Jungle for the music and sound effects.
Hello and welcome to The Kids Are All Right!, a weekly podcast specially for kids, that's all about health, happiness and wellness. I'm Michelle and here with me are my co-pilots on this podcast, Buster and Buddy.
Hey. Hey, guys, it's Buster here!
Hey! Buddy checking in too!
And we are on a mission to help you all feel great and live happy.
Each week we speak with experts who have changed advice to share on how to feel in our heads, healthy in our bodies and happy in our lives.
Oh, and we'll also be chatting with people who've got really interesting stories to tell or have cool jobs or like a really cool attitude to life. Yeah!
And kids, this is your podcast, so we want to hear from you.
Your opinions, your questions, your stories.
Oh, yeah...and your favourite jokes, because laughter really is the best medicine!
Whatever is on your mind, we want to hear. All you have to do is record yourself on the voice recorder on an adult's phone and then email us into us. And you might just hear yourself on this podcast.
Yeah! Woooah, let's get started!
So, guys, I'll have to be honest, I'm feeling pretty tired today. Yeah. Why is that, Michelle?
Well, I've been studying a new course and I have an exam coming up soon, so I've had to spend a lot of time getting ready, which means lots and lots of late night study.
I hate exams. They get me so nervous and I worry so much that I won't be ready for them that I feel kind of sick at my stomach as the exams get closer and closer and closer. Sometimes I don't even want to eat the night before and I always, always love to eat!
Yeah, I get like that sometimes too, like when I've been off school for the holidays and then I have to go back and even though I love school, I worry I'll miss home and my family, my mouth goes all dry, my stomach pains and sometimes I even feel a little bit dizzy in my head.
Yeah, that's called being anxious and it's feeling nervous or worried about something. But you know what, feeling anxious sometimes is perfectly normal. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life, even adults. In fact, if you think about it, it would be a bit weird if you never felt worried or anxious about anything.
Yeah, you'd have to be living with your head right up in the clouds if you never had any worries.
Yeah, if you don't get worried, it will be like you don't care about anything or anyone. So when you think about it, worry, it means that you care, huh?
I never thought of it that way before, Buster.
And guys, you know, when you think back on the last year or so, it's really crazy times we have been through, don't you think? Like the way Coronavirus has affected every country in the world and pretty much changed everything about normal life. So it's really not that surprising that many kids have found that they have had extra worries on their mind and felt anxious at times.
Yeah, it has been crazy alright. And I did worry about a lot of things like when was I going to be able to hug my grandparents again, or catching coronavirus, when can I go back to having my playdates or when could I even just have a normal birthday party again?
Exactly. So it's important to understand that feeling, worried or anxious at times is very normal. But also that we learn some tools that help us to be the boss of our worries. So we thought we'd ask you kids what kind of things give you that worry feeling in your stomach?
There's many things you could be worried of, like getting lost in the shop or something.
I think I remember I wasn't going to get some of my work for religion done. I think I worried about that last. It kinda made me feel under pressure.
I felt worried when I started a new school .
Sometimes I might worry cos I'm under pressure. Sometimes I might worry about like the safety of my family or my friends. Sometimes I might worry because I'm under pressure to do something.
At the start of lockdown, I felt worried that one of my family would catch Coronavirus.
Sometimes when I'm like presenting a project in front of the class, my hands start shaking and like, I just get a lot, like really nervous, I guess.
Oh, yeah. Oh, so all the other kids have things that they worry about too, it's not just me.
So that's why we're delighted to have Dr. Yvonne Quinn as our guest today. She is a psychologist and has worked with kids for many years and knows a lot about the kind of things the kids sometimes worry about and what we can do to take charge and be the boss of our worries. Welcome to the show, Dr. Yvonne.
Thank you. It's great to be here.
So we've just been talking about having worries and how to deal with them, and that's kind of what you do. You help kids with their worries and you're a specialist in resilience and wellbeing. So what does resilience mean?
Resilience is a really big word. But what we talk about when we we use the word resilience, it's really about how we deal with hard things. So we know that hard things happen to everybody. Life can be really hard at times. And that's just part of being a human being. And resilience is really about how we how we cope with those hard things when they happen and how we move forward.
Yeah, and Michele was telling us earlier that feeling worried or anxious, that's something that's actually very, very normal. Is that right?
Absolutely. You're so right. Buddy. Feeling worried is a really normal experience. And I've worked with people of all ages to help them take charge of their work from little kids all the way up to old grannies and granddads who need help managing their worry.
Wow. So they get worried too.
Absolutely. Even grannies and granddads worry sometimes.
I've heard, is this correct? That our brains are pretty much the same as the brain of the caveman times.
I know. Can you believe that our brains are that old, but they're really clever actually. So thousands of years ago when we lived in caves and when we had to hunt for food, life was much more dangerous. And so we needed a way of keeping ourselves safe. And our body has this really cool alarm system called the Fight, Flight or Freeze system that has really helped us to stay safe and to live and exist for as long as we have. So for a minute, I want you to use your mind and imagine that you are out in a Savanna and you're hunting for food, OK? You're starving and you come across a sabertooth tiger.
Yeah. Could you imagine?! So our body is so clever and our brain is so clever that it switches on this alarm system. And when this button gets switched on our body, it does all sorts of really clever things. So it makes our heart beat faster and it moves all of the energy down into our legs that we can run faster. And so this is so we're able to fight the tiger or run away from it. So this is a really, really clever thing that we've got in our bodies. And it has helped us to stay safe for thousands of years.
Oh, yes. So you're saying, that even though it's thousands of years later, our brains are still pretty much the same as a caveman brain?
Yeah, and that's good and bad. So we've still got this part of our brain, the fear system. So this system still gets switched on and off. And we need to we need to be able to keep yourself safe sometimes. So imagine if we were about to cross the road and we didn't look and a car was coming....our brain automatically switches on the system that would give us a bit of a fright and we would jump back onto the footpath to keep ourselves safe. So we still need this part of our brain and it's really important. But over time, our brains have actually changed. And we now have this other part of our brain called this thinking part of our brain. But now the thinking part of our brain can also switch on this fight or flight system.
Wow. Our body is actually trying to protect us, to keep us safe when we get those anxious feelings.
Absolutely. It is our bodys' really clever system of keeping ourselves safe and we need it. But what we also need to be able to do is we need to be able to take charge of it. And remember, we don't live in caves anymore. So life is not nearly as dangerous as it once was. But now the problem is that our thinking brains can think about things being unsafe. So, for instance, imagine if you were about to do a maths test and you think you don't know the answers, you get pretty scared and your thought switches on the alarm system in the same way as a tiger might. And so you end up having all of those feelings in your body, your heart might race, your palms might get sweaty when actually you're not in danger at all...you've just got a math test to do. So when I meet children, one of the first things they often ask me is; I really want you to help me get rid of my worries. But we know that we can't do this because worry and stress comes from this, the system in our body. But what we can do is we can learn how to take charge of it and we can learn how to be in the driver's seat.
Wow, that's amazing. But what can I do when I have so many worries racing around my head so fast that I can't even think straight.
That is such a good question. So the first thing that's really important to know is that when our alarm system gets pushed, so we were in a fight or flight state, that unfortunately the thinking part of our brain switches off. So the first thing we need to do is we need to calm our bodies down because it's only when our bodies are calm that we can even start to use our thinking brain. And I often tell boys and girls that one of the most helpful things we can do is to breathe or to move our bodies. So our breath is a little bit like having a superpower, actually. So our fight or flight system can get switched on, and our breath can actually switch it off, but we need to breathe in a certain type of way to breathe in a certain type of way.
But, I know how to breathe...In and Out?
Absolutely! And that's what we do, just breathe in and out. But the thing we also know is when we get worried, we're going to breathe much faster. And so the thing we need to do to calm our bodies down is we need to take slower, deeper breath.
Yeah, because when I get worried or scared, I get shaky and I start to breath really, really, really, really, really fast.
Exactly. And that actually makes our bodies even more stressed. So the superpower is breathing deep, slow breaths. So I often tell boys and girls that it's about breathing right down into their bellies. And for me, an easy way to help me to do this is to put my hands on my belly and take a deep breath and put my hand on my belly. OK, put your hands in your belly and you take a big breath in through your nose. And you might feel your belly filling up like a balloon.
Yeah. I feel like it might pop, ha!
And then you breathe out nice and slowly through your nose again. Yeah. So you're doing it, breathing in through your nose and out through your nose.
And I'm going to do that all the time!
Well, that's a really important point, actually, because if we want to get really good at this, it's like learning how to do anything. We need to practice it at times when our body is calm. And I get the boys and girls that I work with to practice this a lot throughout the day, so that when you actually get worried, your body already knows what to do.
That's a really great tool to actually have, because sometimes when you're in the middle of all that worry and your heart is racing, it can be really hard to know what to do.
Yeah, it's quite scary. Yeah, exactly.
So that's why our breathing is really useful. And the other thing, just to help with our bodies getting calm is we can shake it out of our bodies. So moving or jumping or shaking our arms and legs, all of that can help us get rid of all of that fight or flight energy that we have in our body.
Yeah, because sometimes when I'm really nervous or I'm really anxious, it's like I just want to explode. So if I run around or shake.
Yeah. And it's because your body is so well able to fight or to run. But if we don't need all that energy, we need to kind of shake it off. Sometimes I just ask the boys girls to just shake, shake your legs, shake your arms, do a bit of jumping or some jumping jacks and that moves it out of your body. And then once our bodies are calm, then we can start to talk to ourselves in a way that can be really helpful. So, for instance, if we're feeling really scared about, let's say we've got to stand up in front of our teacher and our friends, and that can be really scary.
I get really scared.
Yeah exactly and you know, most people don't like doing it. And how we talk to ourselves can really help us or it can hold us back. So, for instance, imagine, Buddy, if you are about to stand up in front of all your friends and you say to yourself, in your mind, I'm so scared, I can't do it, everyone's going to laugh at me. Yeah. What's going to happen?
Well, my voice is going to get really shaky and probably get really nervous and get, you know, I'll be afraid to do it in the future.
Exactly. But imagine if instead of that, you just said to yourself, I know I'm feeling scared because I can feel it in my body right now because my heart is racing a bit faster. But I also know that I can do this and I know that when I do it, I will feel really proud of myself. So how would that help if you told yourself that instead?
Well, already I'm saying it in my head and it actually puts a big smile on my face and I actually feel so much more confident doing it.
And remember, you are in charge of what you think in your brain so you can decide to tell yourself that you're going to be OK or you can decide to tell yourself that things are really scary and you can't do it. And it's much nicer to tell ourselves that we can do it or things aren't as bad as we. And remember, that's the other thing about the worry, the worst job is to make you feel like things are really awful. That's its job, but it doesn't always get things right. So it's your job to use your clever brain to think I know that's not really true or I know that I can do this. So I often tell boys and girls it's almost like sitting in the car and having a chat. So the worry might start off being in the driver's seat. But you're going to say to it, that I'm in charge here and I know that I'm scared, but I also know that I can do it. And I know that things are never as bad as you tell me they are. So you need to tell the worry to get into the back seat.
It's great to understand the science behind why we feel anxious sometimes, it really makes it much easier to make a plan of the different things that we can do to help ourselves feel better. But it's probably still a good idea to talk to your mom or dad when you may be feeling worried or anxious about something.
I would absolutely agree, Michelle. We know that talking to people about the things that are hard, so our worried feelings or our sad feelings is one of the best things we can do to keep ourselves well. But we know sometimes for boys and girls that they might be afraid to tell their moms and dads because they're worried that moms and dads are busy and they don't want to worry moms and dads. But telling somebody about how we feel, even just doing that can help us. And for moms and dads, the most important thing they can do is they can listen. So all we need them to do sometimes is to listen to us and to say, I know it's hard, but I'm here and I can help you. Because sometimes we can't make things better. You know, sometimes things are hard and we don't have a way of making things better. We don't have a magic wand. So that's why for boys and girls, so important.
Dr. Yvonne, thank you so much. I just know there'll be loads of the kids listening that will have found this really, really helpful.
You're so welcome.
Dr Yvonne, can I ask you our favourite question that we aske all our guests?
OK, so it's called Big Me to Little Me!. So basically, if you could go back in time and speak to little Dr. Yvonne, what would you say to her?
Oh, that's a really good question. I think what I would tell her is that you are braver and stronger than you know and that you can do hard things.
Wow. That's an amazing answer. oh, before you before you go, what's your favourite animal?
My favourite animal is a giraffe because I love long eyelashes!
Ha ha! Brilliant! Thank you so much.
You're so welcome, lovely to chat today, guys.
Wow, I feel so much better after talking with Dr. Yvonne. Now I understand that it's really normal to feel worried or scared sometimes, that it's because my body has an amazing security system. My brain is like a fierce warrior on the lookout for danger and wants to protect me by being ready to switch on my fight or flight reaction, which thousands of years ago gave humans the extra energy to either fight or run away from the saber tooth tiger.
Yeah, but life now isn't half as dangerous as it was back in Caveman times. And we definitely don't have any saber tooth tigers running around. But we still need the fear part of our brains to keep us safe in other dangerous situations we could get into now.
And Dr. Yvonne tells us that the problem now is that the thinking part of our brain has developed so much that it can think there is danger when there isn't any and switch on this fight or flight response.
Yeah, so that's why when I'm nervous or worried about something, it's just all that extra fight or flight energy that makes all those funny things start to happen in my body, my heart thumping, my body sweating, feeling dizzy, the yucky stomach pains.
Yeah, exactly. But now that we understand what's going on in our bodies, we have some great tools we can use to take charge of these worries and be in the driver's seat again. Dr. Yvonne says two really, really important things we can do when we feel our worries taking over, is breathe and move.
Yeah. I move a few slow breaths through your nose, down into your belly, and then slowly back out of your nose again. Yeah, Dr Yvonne says this kind of breath is kind of like a super power cos it turns off your fight or flight switch and let our bodies calm down. Oh, that's amazing!
Yeah, it is amazing. And oh, it totally makes sense that by moving I can get rid of this extra energy and stop all those not nice things happening in my body. All I need to do is shake my arms and legs, do some jumping or some running to get rid of the extra energy!
Yeah and Dr Yvonne said once we calm our bodies down, then we can use the thinking part of our brain again instead of the fear part and that's how we can get back into the driver's seat, take charge of our worries by telling them they can stay in the car if they want what they have to get in the back seat and be quiet! I love that!
Oh, it's that time of the show again, guys. It's my favourite time of the day.
No, it's my favourite time!
OK! It's both our favourite time of the day. It Joke Time!
So we've learned loads today, laughed lots, and now it's time to give our brains a massage. Are you guys ready for this week's Mini Mindfulness Moment?
Hi, everyone. I hope that you're all doing well. My name's Louise and welcome to this episode of Mindfulness Moments. So today's Mini Mindfulness Moment is called Candle Breathing. Imagine you have a beautiful candle in your hands. What does your candle smell like? Breathing in now and smell the candle. Breathing out and blow the flame, seeing it flicker. Breathing in and smell your candle, breathing out and blow the flame, seeing it flicker.. Well done. You did so well. Remember, you can do your Mini Mindfulness Moment any time you like. See you next time.
So, guys, that's almost it for today. Thanks to all the kids who sent in their audio clips this week, if you have something you want to tell us a story, a question or your favourite joke, we'd love to hear from you! All you have to do is record it in the voice recorder app on a parent's smartphone and then email it to us. And the email is in our show notes.
Or you can check out our website, www.TheKidsAreAllRight.ie for more details about sending in your clips and you'll find loads more info about the show and every guest that we have on the show.
We hope you really enjoyed this week's show. If so, rate, reviews, subscribe and tell all your friends about it.
Exactly. And remember, try to Be Healthy,
and Be Happy.!
See you next time on The Kids Are All Right!