Managing Anxiety about School Shootings & Other Traumatic Experiences with guest Stacie Boyar, LMHC, MS Ed
About this Episode
With so many scary things happening in the world today, it’s easy to understand why kids are struggling with anxiety. On this episode, Dr. Amy and Teri interview licensed mental health counselor, Stacie Boyar, LMHC, MS Ed, who shares tips and specific strategies for managing anxiety. She’s uniquely qualified to give advice on this topic as a therapist in Parkland, FL who worked with teens from the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.
We talk about effective therapies for anxiety like CBT and EMDR and also learn at-home breathing and grounding techniques that we AND our kids can use whenever we’re feeling stressed or anxious about anything at all. Join us for this fantastic conversation with the author of You’re Not the Boss of Me, a book for teens on conquering anxiety.
Stacie is a licensed mental health counselor with a master’s degree in education. She specializes in anxiety, depression, and PTSD and her clients are predominately adults. Stacie has written a book outlining tips and techniques to combat anxiety called You’re Not the Boss of Me. She also has a podcast called Namastacie where she guides listeners through breathing and grounding techniques to help lower anxiety. She’s the author of the book, You’re Not the Boss of Me!: Tips, Tricks, and Tested Techniques to Tame the Brain and Keep Anxiety Away.
Connect with Stacie
Mentioned in this Episode
Link to Stacie’s book on Amazon: You’re Not the Boss of Me!: Tips, Tricks, and Tested Techniques to Tame the Brain and Keep Anxiety Away.
Link to Stacie’s podcast Namastacie where she guides listeners through breathing and grounding techniques to help lower anxiety
LearningRx is a worldwide network of brain training centers offering cognitive, reading, and math remediation and enhancement for all ages. LearningRx has worked with more than 106,000 clients who have learning struggles and disabilities, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, autism, and age-related cognitive decline. Visit www.LearningRx.com or call 1-866-BRAIN-01 to learn more.
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Read the transcript for this episode:
Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms brought to you today by LearningRx Brain Training centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore, here with my co-host Teri Miller coming to you as usual from Colorado Springs, Colorado. We’re excited to bring you a conversation with our guest today coming all away from south Florida, Stacey Boyer.
Stacy’s a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in anxiety, depression, and PTSD. She’s the author of the book You’re Not the Boss of Me about tips for conquering anxiety, and she’s also the host of a really cool podcast called NamaStacie.
Teri Miller: I love that name. NamaStacie.
Dr. Amy Moore: I do, too.
Teri Miller: So super fun. So, Stacy, I’m just super glad to have you here and, um, wanna dig into all the incredible information you have about anxiety, which is so relevant right now, so needed. But before that, if you could just give us a little bit of your background and what brought you to where you are.
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me today. Um, yes. As you said, I’m a licensed mental health counselor. I began as a teacher years and years ago. And when my younger daughter went to school for the first time kindergarten, I thought, oh, let me go back to school as well and do what I really wanted to do.
And that’s when I decided to, um, get my degree in mental health counseling. And, uh, I had a private practice in south Florida, as you mentioned, but then of course, when COVID hit everything went by a telehealth. So I’m exclusively providing telehealth for my clients. Um, and yes, I went ahead and wrote a book during this crazy COVID time.
And it’s sort of associated with my podcast, which gives tips, uh, how to deal with anxiety.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, well, what a coincidence. I was a teacher before I was I, before I was a psychologist. So, um, yeah, and I, I kind of did the exact same thing. Um, just said there’s something going on that we’re missing here and I gotta figure out what that is and yeah.
Stacie Boyar: So, yeah, absolutely. And I, I mean, honestly, I wish that schools even starting in elementary school would teach these kinds of things to help with anxiety. And this way kids would have the tools to deal with things that happen to them and what they can do. And, uh, unfortunately it’s not really taught in schools.
Dr. Amy Moore: No. And in fact, it’s not taught in teacher education programs either. You’re going into special ed. Right? And so the traditional mainstream classroom teacher has very little training, um, in psychology and in how to help children, co-regulate their emotions. And so it’s so needed. Um, absolutely. So…
Teri Miller: I feel like the, like this topic even, um, I think like with my older kids, That this wasn’t a topic that was even discussed. So my oldest kids are like 28, 27, 25. And that wasn’t something when they were in school that we talked about that was brought up that anxiety. Wasn’t this worry just for your regular kid, just like you’re talking about Amy, that was more of like a really special issue, a kid with really big problems. And now it’s something that we hear about. We’re seeing more. Are we more aware? Is it more of a problem? Talk to us about why are we seeing so much more anxiety right now, Stacy?
Stacy Boyar: You know, I think if one good thing maybe came out of COVID is maybe it destigmatized anxiety a little bit because everybody was experiencing it. And that’s sort of where this whole idea came from to write the book and to start the podcast because kids were expressing such anxiety and in my case in particular, my daughter was going to sleepaway camp and everything was shut down, but they were able to keep the sleepaway camp up and running. And, but they had to stay with their group of 10 kids the whole time.
And during that time, my daughter sort of played this podcast to her friends because they were saying, wow, what’s like gonna our future gonna look like, and what’s going on. And this is, you know, at first it was fun to stay in your pajamas and go to school, but you know what? This is like, Ugh. So they started listening to the podcast and um, I decided, wow, let’s write a book about this and teach kids how to deal with what they’re going through and how to do the deep breathing, how to do the grounding.
Um, but I do think that because some famous people have come out, you know, Prince Harry’s come out, you know, saying that he has anxiety, maybe all of these people coming forward and talking about it more sort of destigmatizes it and makes it okay to talk about and get help for. Okay.
Dr. Amy Moore: Absolutely. So speaking of getting help, talk to us a little bit about what parents should be on the lookout for like, what are some red flags that can help parents differentiate between is my child experiencing anxiety or is this just the stress and worry that’s typical of this stage of life?
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. Well, I think if they’re seeing excess irritability, excessive fatigue, excessive, not motivated to do anything, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, not wanting to do the things that they used to do, not wanting to see friends. And I would even venture to. An obsession with social media too, because yes, there are good, some good things with so social media, but getting wrapped into that and living vicariously through others, um, is really serious too.
But the, the main ones are the fatigue. The not engaging with friends and family, irritability, sleep disturbance, um, not love doing things that they once loved, maybe doing poorly in school. Uh, those kind of would be red flags. Of course the suicidal ideation would be an extreme red flag, but a change in behavior from what they once were would be something to look into.
Teri Miller: Sure. I mean, obviously you’d wanna I’m imagining that you would recommend, gosh, I mean, get professional help, but I think in just that immediate in that interim, when you see your kids starting to go down this path, starting to show these signs of anxiety, is it, is it better to kind of push your kid? Like, no, you need to get out of bed. I know you feel bad, but you need to get outta bed. You’re gonna go to. Baseball practice or whatever it is, you know, you’re gonna go to this class. You need to go get some sunshine. Is it better to push your kid or just to kind of back off and say, it’s okay, I’m here for you, but you do what you need to do. What’s the immediate response.
Stacie Boyar: Well, I guess, you know, talking about depression too, and sometimes they do go hand in hand. So I, I do always encourage with my clients to get up and do something. Whether it’s a walk around the block, whether it’s just going in the backyard, but when you’re so deep in a depression, as you guys know, it’s so hard to even get out of bed, it’s hard to brush your teeth. It’s really hard to do anything. Um, but yes, encouraging all those things. Are you drinking enough water? You know, the basics. Are you eating the fruits and vegetables, not, you know, uh, dieting, but are you doing all those things that you need to be doing? Are you sleeping on a regular schedule? Are you following a routine? And as hard as it is, are you reaching out to those friends? Because of course we’re all humans. And even if we are introverted, we’re social beings. So reaching out to people is such an important, important thing to do.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. So talk a little bit about what parents can do in the middle of an anxiety episode, right? Like how can they help in the, when, it, clearly I can’t speak today! What can parents do? Right when this is happening, right? Where the, the child is experiencing either a panic attack or an anxiety attack, or just a heightened level of anxiety. Um, talk to us about some strategies that parents can use to help calm their kids.
Stacie Boyar: Yeah, well, you know, the deep breathing number one, and of course that’s something that needs to be practiced when you’re not anxious. So when you are anxious, you can easily draw upon it. And you know, we’ve all heard them, but they are so important whether it’s the square breathing, breathing up for four and across for four, down, you know, or the triangle breathing, whatever works for your child. Or if it’s just really teaching them to breathe through your nose, get that air all the way in your stomach. Puff your stomach out, breathe slowly out, slower out than you did in. Okay. Let’s do it again. But now when the, when the air’s in your stomach may, say something kind, say a mantra, say something that’s gonna make you feel good, then breathe out. So the deep breathing is number one. Um, of course grounding is extremely, extremely important.
Um, using your five senses to get yourself back in the moment, because of course, when we’re anxious, we’re thinking of the future and the what ifs and the what ifs and the what ifs and when we are depressed, maybe we’re thinking of the past. So ideally you wanna be in the present. So use your eyes maybe to see five things right in front of you.What are four things you hear? What are three things you smell? What are two things you wanna taste? What’s one thing you can touch just to pull yourself back into the present. So I think those two are most important in the thicker when you’re in the moment.
Dr. Amy Moore: So I, I. Thinking that, um, parents are saying, okay, that’s a great idea. How do I actually implement that? Do I say to my child, look at me, stop close your eyes, sit. Um, I mean, what would be their first step before they walk them through a breathing exercise or a grounding exercise?
Teri Miller: Yeah, that is so good. Cuz Amy that’s exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking of my youngest that has these kind of meltdowns and in the moment. There, I know, is no getting through to her.
Dr. Amy Moore: And I’m sure they’re in the middle of an amygdala hijack mm-hmm and that’s why Stacy’s saying it’s important to practice these techniques when calm so that then they can access those, but you gotta start somewhere, right? Yeah. Parents have to start somewhere. And so what is that imp? Is that important for them to be looking at you or sitting or laying down, or like, just talk us through that.
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. And you, and I think every kid and every child and every person is different, what’s going to work. Um, you know, there have been so many studies now that I, you know, not that you have that on hand with an ice pack or putting ice on that vagus nerve or behind their neck. Something is splashing water on your face. But I do. I love the idea of sitting with them, touching them somewhere on their knee, putting your arm around them. Okay, let’s do this together. Let’s take a deep breath. But of course, when a child young child’s in the midst of this, it is hard. It’s really hard.
Teri Miller: Yeah. That’s those are good things. So try to reach out, try to, yeah. Cool water. Um, even I’m thinking like a cold cloth behind her neck, maybe, you know, like in a soothing way, those are good ideas,
Dr. Amy Moore: Right. That ice mask, um, you know, that covers the eyes and the tip tops of your cheeks creates that mammalian diving reflex, right? Where it immediately lowers heart rate and blood pressure. And
Teri Miller: Whoa, I didn’t know that.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. That’s why they say splash your face with cold water or dunk your face into an ice bowl.
Stacie Boyar: Nice. And I have to say, I’ve read this so many times and I’ve said this to clients too, but I did wanna practice it myself. So I, um, and of course I’m just thinking of yoga and yoga’s a great thing for even young children and adults to get into, because it adds the breathing, but I recently did a yoga class where they give you frozen washcloths. They must wet them and put them in the refrigerator and they’re frozen. And so when it was done, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna lay this on my chest. And honestly, I, it worked, I felt such like a rush of relaxation, just kind of laying it there. So, you know, that might be something to try. My dog is I’m so sorry. I apologize. Let me.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. So I really like that idea. I mean, and plus we know that anytime you can shock a sense, right, that’s gonna ground you, you know, whether those reflexes are engaged or not. Right. It’s just the mere fact that you have shifted your focus from what you’re feeling anxious about to that sensation, right? Whether you’re holding an ice cube or walking barefoot in the snow, not that you can do that in Florida, but we can do that here. Right? Just step onto your patio.
Teri Miller: Yeah. Yeah. Nine months out the year.
Stacie Boyar: Love that. And you know, I, if they are in a state where you could communicate them asking them, you know, what is your fear? What are the chances that this is really going to happen? Um, if that does happen, is it really that bad? Let’s think of something that’s 180 degrees, the opposite. What’s something good that we can think about, you know, kind of questioning your own thoughts. But of course, when they’re in the midst of it, that’s hard, but once they’re calm down, calm down, maybe kind of talk them through it in a different way.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, helping them look for evidence for that thought, right? Putting that thought on trial. Okay. Yeah.
Teri Miller: Tell me about why, why teen girls? Why has that been a focus that’s really important to you? Um, and is the focus of your book? Um, that’s called, You’re Not the Boss of Me. Why that focus?
Stacie Boyar: Well, to be honest, it didn’t start out that way. Um, but again, getting back to my daughter in camp and how all these teen girls at the time, they were 15, um, are 14 enjoyed it. I thought, oh, maybe there is something there. Maybe they need to learn this. They don’t know anything about deep breathing. They don’t know about grounding. They don’t know, um, about, you know, using their own resources to relax themselves. So I, I found it really important.
I also, as we kind of discussed before I live a mile from, uh, Stoneman Douglas high school, which is in Parkland and when the mass shooting happened there, um, Great deal of trauma occurred to 14 year olds because they were in ninth grade, um, when this happened. And so I saw a lot of, uh, parents and children of that age in and out of our office.
Um, and that time we all decided to get trained in EMDR to help with PTSD. So it kind of stemmed from that occurrence, which of course affected the school, affected the community, and affected everyone for so long. And so, um, that’s what kind of brought it about, um, so of course with EMDR or with any kind of PTSD training, it’s not, it doesn’t wipe it out completely. It doesn’t erase it like it never happened, but the goal is to get rid of the PTSD symptoms. So it’s not affecting your life or causing you not to do things you wanna do. Um, so I think all of those things kind of played a part into working with 14, 15, 16 year olds and adults.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. So let’s spend a few minutes talking about EMDR. I’m a fan, um, refer lots of people, um, for EMDR, um, It was super effective for my child who had a traumatic injury. Um, he snapped off both bones in his leg, um, in a freak accident on a trampoline, and then just developed this intense fear of dying from that whole ambulance ride surgery emergency type event that he went through and, um, EMDR was super effective. So talk to our listeners about what EMDR stands for, what it is, how it works and when it would work, like what what’s it useful for?
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. So, um, it’s eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. And, um, if. I was in the office. I have these little things called tappers and you hold one in one hand and one in the other hand, and they vibrate, um, causing a bilateral stimulation. Um, a lot of practitioners use a light, which works the same. Um, when I am doing telehealth, I do a bilateral stimulation where your right hand is on your left shoulder and your left hand is on your right shoulder and you do a tapping motion. And I, I guess, you know, in thinking about it, it’s a little similar to, to tapping, which is now something people talk about too, but that’s something else. Anyway, you tap using bilateral stimulation. And, um, the idea is it’s not really talk therapy, so it’s, it’s not a lot of talking about the incident. Um, it’s focusing on I Messages, I’m gonna die, you know, and changing that irrational thought to what you want to believe. Um, and so it’s a lot of within yourself, thoughts, talking, what are you getting from that thought? What does that thought mean? And then reprocessing the brain to believe something different and believe something more accurate. And again, does it make the event disappear? No, but it makes the night sweats or the screaming or, you know, whatever the, it is it, it, um, abates that. So I’ve had some really good, um, results with that as well. Although nothing is for everyone. So not all people, uh, benefit from EMDR, but I think a lot of people do. And I think that’s wonderful that your son, uh, was able to go through that and benefit from that.
Dr. Amy Moore: Does there have to be a specific target or can it be used with general anxiety?
Staci Boyar: I believe that it can, um, because yes, a school shooting or a horrific accident that’s incredibly traumatic, but that doesn’t negate another person’s trauma, whatever they felt their trauma was through childhood. So yes, it could be something like a school shooting, but it also could be with, um, you know, familial incidences that cause trauma as well. Um, I’ve also done something called, um, RTM, which was, uh, dealing a lot with veterans. They seem to, uh, get a lot of results from that. And it’s a similar concept except you’re replaying it as a movie. It’s kind of hard to explain you, replay it as a movie and you replay it in black and white and you replay it backwards and you replay it smaller. And then you actually pretend it’s a movie and you pretend it’s far away. And, um, there seemed to be good results with that as well.
Dr. Amy Moore: And what does RTM stand for?
Stacie Boyar: um, oh my gosh. Now I have to remember the acronym for that. Oh, Traumatic, you know what? I’ll get back to you.
Dr. Amy Moore: I’ll look it up while you talk, how’s that?
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. I should know.
Teri Miller: We put you on the spot’s. It’s good though. I just haven’t heard that, so right away, I’m thinking. Yeah. What does that stand for?
Dr. Amy Moore: Reconsolidation of traumatic memories.
Stacie Boyar: Yes. Yeah. And I’ve actually used that with veterans, but also with, um, drug addicts that have had serious things go on and, and it’s, it’s worked for them as well.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. So, yeah. And then if, if parents are looking for specific therapy for their child, what, what therapy do you recommend? What should they be looking for when they Google counselors in their area? What methodology do you recommend for anxiety? What should they look for?
Stacie Boyar: I’m a proponent for a cognitive behavior therapy and, um, Again, talk therapy, positive therapy, motivational interviewing all those things are great before anxiety, um, cognitive behavior therapy, I think seems to get the best results and, you know, some therapists give homework and things to do when they’re not in the office to help, uh, with the anxiety.
But I certainly would recommend cognitive behavior therapy. Of course, with young children played, which of course I’m not in the office and that’s very specialized to do play therapy where they have the sand table and the games and the toys and for young young ones, um, that’s certainly best.
Dr. Amy Moore: So I get a lot of, um, parents who ask me, Hey, my child has been in therapy for six months and I’m not seeing any improvement. So talk to us about um, at what point should a parent say, I’m not sure this is a good fit or I maybe I should try somebody else.
Stacie Boyar: Well, and you know what I always say with my clients, you have to have the rapport with the client. You have to have that connection, and you’re not gonna have maybe a connection with everyone. And if you’re a child or you are not feeling that connection, that’s okay. And I think any therapist would understand, you need to find someone that’s suited for you. Um, I think with a lot of people with a lot of children, maybe it’s, it’s almost like a safe space, so maybe you won’t see progress at home, but this is a place for your that they feel that they have freedom and comfort to kind of express their emotions, uh, with a person that’s neutral and isn’t someone from their family. And I also think with younger children to maybe include the family or include the mom or have family sessions and really kind of talk about what the goals are and what you’re seeing and what you wanna see. Um, but again, if, if you’re not happy or comfortable, it’s it’s okay. And maybe there would be somebody else out there that would be better.
Dr. Amy Moore: I just wanna back that up. I didn’t mean parents of people that I counsel, I meant I would, right. That they would say, should I stop or should I look elsewhere? Right, right. Because they just don’t know what’s happening in the counseling room. Right. Right. So they’re, they’re wondering, you know, am I driving my kid, you know, once a week for this, and it’s not helping.
Teri Miller: Right because as parents we’re looking for those, you know, outward, um, sort of, uh, behavior changes or we’re, we’re looking to see their feelings be expressed in a more healthy way. We’re looking for them to get out of bed and actually get back into life. And so if we’re not, if they’re in therapy and we’re not seeing those things change, that’s probably a sign that maybe it’s not a good fit?
Stacie Boyar: I would think so, or maybe re talk about what your goals are and are you seeing, you know, a lot of therapists encourage the journaling or the waking up with gratitude? I mean, is, is the child doing the homework? Are they kind of comfortable with the therapist? Are they getting the, you know, and, and yeah, I guess it would be time to revisit it for sure.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. So I wanna talk specifically about social anxiety. Um, I’ve noticed it can be super intractable, like really hard, uh, to overcome really hard to treat, especially among teenage girls, girls. I know that COVID has exacerbated the social anxiety, right? I mean, you’re stuck at home for a year and a half, and now all of a sudden you have to go back into the world. You’ve lost your social skills, you’re all confused, but why are we seeing besides COVID? Why are we seeing so much social anxiety in teens, especially teen girls, and what do we do?
Stacie Boyar: I mean, honestly, I think it’s related to the social media and look what they’re looking at. These girls in they’re all bathing suits and all these places, and they’re all edited. And they’re looking at these images day in and day out, and they’re scrolling so fast. And, and I think that it’s really harmed teenage girls and in a big way.
Um, but I’ve also seen an adult, the social anxiety because of COVID. And they are concerned about getting outta the car and going to the grocery store. And, and it’s an uncomfortable thing. Although there are others that had social anxiety and love the fact that they can wear a mask and wear glasses and cover themselves up and a hat, and they feel like they’re invisible and that’s almost made it easier for them to go out and join the world.
Um, and for social anxiety, it’s exposure therapy, which is so hard, but go out for one minute, try it for two minutes and, and really getting out there and doing it, which is so incredibly, incredibly hard. And we are, we were stuck in the house for so long. It got easy, it got comfortable. And the truth is now that the world’s opening up and we need to go out again.
It is really hard for these teens getting back into school, getting back into the routine. Um, but exposure is the way to go really, right.
Dr. Amy Moore: To reiterate, the only way to overcome anxiety is to go through it.
Stacie Boyar: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. Because I think as parents are instinct is to protect our child from suffering. Right, right. Oh, you’re experiencing anxiety. Well, then don’t go. Right. So we allay our anxiety by avoiding the thing that causes the anxiety, but then that just actually feeds it. Right, right.
Stacie Boyar: That avoidance, right? Yes. And the truth is what we worry about. What is a statistic? Like I think it’s almost like 99% of the things we worry about never even happen. So the teens and adults who you’re spending so much time and energy worrying about the, what ifs, and if this happens, I’ll do this. And if this happens, I’ll do that. And none of those things are going to happen and you do have to put yourself out there and experience it to really realize that.
Teri Miller: Yeah. And I think for, I think for all of us listening to this, that is really a hard thing because I think if you’re the, if you tend to be the parent, that’s more, you know, hovering and protecting your kids. Then, okay. I’m gonna use one of my kids as an example. Um, you know, he doesn’t wanna go out and do new things with friends. He’s got two good friends that he does things with and that’s it. And he sort of complains about, I don’t have any friends. I don’t know how to make friends. I don’t know how to talk to people.
And so then I push him out into things like we’re gonna go to youth group, you’re gonna go to youth group and you know, you’re going experience this, and I know it’s hard, but you’re gonna go. Well, that sort of hovering parent perspective as he goes, I don’t wanna, and he’s really sad would be like, okay, never mind, never mind. It’s okay. It’s okay. You can stay home, buddy. It’s okay. Um, and then I think there’s the opposite then that super controlling parent would be like, you’re gonna do what I say and you’re gonna like it. You’re gonna go. And you’re gonna put a smile on your face, right? Like two very, very opposite ends of the spectrum. Where is the happy middle? To, to talk to us about kind of finding that healthy middle space of pushing your child that suffers from social anxiety, pushing them out there, not hovering, not control.
Stacie Boyar: It’s so hard and every child is so different. I know, but again, going with the statistics. So we have, what is it? 6,000 thoughts a day and 80% of our thoughts are like faulty, not accurate, not right. And so I wonder if that’s something to really explain to our kids. Okay. You’re having this thought that you don’t have any friends. Let’s talk about that. Is that really true? Is that really an accurate thought? Well, you have Johnny and you have Sally and youth group and you have Joey on the soccer field, you know?
Oh wait, I do have friends. So almost challenging those thoughts for them. And I wonder if once they are sort of pushed a little to do youth group or whatever it is if they find it, if they ultimately really have a good time and they’re happy that they’ve, that they’ve gone, you know, I’m, I’m against that, you know, authoritarian, uh, parenting, of course, isn’t good.
You want them to be themselves. And, um, but authoritative, maybe that little coercing and pushing really does benefit them in the long run.
Dr. Amy Moore: Along with conversation is what I’m hearing you say, right?
Teri Miller: Connection. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: So, um, we need to take a break and let Teri read word from our sponsor LearningRx. And when we come back, I wanna talk, um, about school shootings and that anxiety and fear that that creates for families and kids, because that’s a real fear. Right. That is happening. So let’s talk about that when we come back from the break.
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Dr. Amy Moore: And we’re back talking to licensed mental health counselor, Stacie Boyer about anxiety. So Stacy, you are uniquely qualified to talk about the anxiety and fear around school shootings because you’re in Parkland, Florida, right down the road from where the Parkland shooting happened. So talk to us about, um, how to address what parents are feeling. The fear about sending kids to school and what kids are feeling about going to school. It’s all over the media. Everyone knows. Um, what do we?
Stacie Boyar: You’re right. It used to be something that was abstract. When you’d have this fear, you could challenge those thoughts and say, well, yes, we see it on the news, but the likelihood of it happening by you is slim. Unfortunately, now I don’t think we can say that anymore. And just talking with people around here, we, you know, obviously knew people that were killed during the shooting in Parkland. And then a person also knows someone in the same area that was in, um, the shooting just recently. So it’s like to have people know of friends and family members that have this has happened to in several locations is really mind boggling and scary.
And what can you do? I mean, it is just an overwhelming thing to even think about, um, when talking about anxiety and getting over it, I talk a lot about, um, a container method. So we talked about grounding. We talked about breathing. A container, um, or not even the, the container, yes, but the safe space, having your own safe space.
So a visualization technique that sometimes helps with anxiety is having children or adults or teens visualize the most beautiful place that they ever dreamed of, whether they saw it on the internet. Or they’ve actually been to it and using again, their five senses to get them there. So if it’s the beach, what do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? You could make it as beautiful and as wonderful and as vibrant as you want, because it’s your safe space. So, you know, as much as we don’t want to have our children go out into this scary world, maybe we can give them the tools to relax themselves and make them feel good.
Um, when they are there mm-hmm uh, but it is it’s, it’s just, it’s a scary, scary time. Yeah.
Teri Miller: Well, you’ve got a tool that I think is probably would, would be really, really helpful to all of us, to teen girls, teen kids, um, dealing with that daily anxiety. Thing that comes up, whether it’s social anxiety, fear of being out in public, all the shootings and the violence out in the world right now. Tell us a little bit about that tool you’ve got available. Your podcast.
Stacie Boyar: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Thank you. So it’s called Namastacie. And on it, it isn’t an interview podcast. It just offers tips and techniques to help with anxiety, which some of the ones we talked about are on there in a million others, taping your dragon and, uh, safe space and building your container and different kind of breathing techniques that are really, really helpful for people when they are struggling. And for anybody. I think it’s a really important thing to have in your toolbox. It is important for each and every one of us to have a toolbox that works for us and everyone’s toolbox might be different.
Um, you know, having a, something to hold onto a lot of children, um, I’ve given them the tip to put something in their backpack or their purse or their pocket that they can feel, and they can touch whether it’s a crystal or a rock or a toy. And when you’re feeling anxious, put your hand in your pocket or your backpack can touch it and try to just focus on that and nothing else that’s going on. Is it cold? Is it sharp? Is it, um, prickly? Is it cool? Is it warm? And put all your focus on that particular item. Um, so yeah, there’s tons and tons of tricks to keep our mind away from things that are difficult and put them in a, in a safe, happy place, spell that.
Teri Miller: Will you spell that for us? For our listeners so that after they listen to this podcast, they can click over and listen to one of your soothing podcast anti-anxiety episodes
Stacie Boyar: Yeah, Namastacie, N A M A S T A C I E with little prayer hands at the end. And, um, there’s about 20 kind of tips to help with anxiety.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. Yeah. Each episode is like four to 10 minutes at the most, right. Where you do guided activities like those guided mindfulness techniques or calming techniques. Um, it’s a fascinating, um, Resource and free, right? Like it’s yeah, like having Stacie right there in your ears, uh, guiding you through, uh, these calming exercises.
Um, in thinking about the way that we help, um, children and adults get past anxiety by saying, what are the chances of this happening? What is the worst thing that can happen? What is the most likely thing that can happen? When we talk about the violence that we’re seeing in the world right now, it’s scary to leave one’s house and say, if I go to the mall, am I gonna be shot? If I go to school, am I gonna be shot? If I go to the movie theater, right?
Teri Miller: A block party.
Dr. Amy Moore: Right. If I sit outside at a restaurant is a drive by shooting going to happen to me? Those are real things that are happening. And if we can’t necessarily say what’s the most likely thing that could occur, right. Or what’s the worst that can happen in that scenario? Well, the worst that can happen is we get shot. So do we want to teach our kids tangible tools? Not just the, not just the calming escape methods, but like our bodies are designed to have this fight or flight response to help us get away or help us. I mean, do we, do we remind them of what they can physically do and how they’re equipped for that? Or does that just make the anxiety worse?
Teri Miller: Gosh, yeah. That’s such an interesting question.
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think having them realize that they do have the strength and the capability is an important thing and giving them the confidence it’s so important. Although, you know, then you think about the schools when we were younger, you know, we had fire drills or whatever, and I’m sure they still do. And all they’re having shooter drills. And you wonder, what is that doing to them? Although maybe it is making some, hopefully all children feel confident. Like if this happens, I can physically do this. It’s heartbreaking to even think about it and go there and say that, but okay. I can put my desk this way. I can put my backpack here. I can. So perhaps that gives them the tangible thoughts and tools to get through. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. I know. It’s tough. Right? I saw. I can’t remember her name, but I saw a psychologist do a Ted talk and she specializes in school shootings and research school shooting research. And she said, we have to stop doing shooting drills because we’re telling the shooters what’s gonna happen. Oh my goodness. Because something like 80% are students, current students are former students in that school so they know exactly what the process is gonna be. Yeah, so that was an interesting perspective as well. Right? Like you want your, you want the kids to know here’s how we can protect ourselves, but at the same time you’re teaching the shooters exactly what the kids are gonna be doing and where they’re gonna be hiding and how they’re gonna be hiding.
Teri Miller: No, you still gotta think that still is helpful. There is still protective measures. It’s still better than kids running around in chaos. You know, I mean, some of the incidents that happened many, many years ago, and that was the scenario, there were kids running around in chaos and there was so much more destruction. So, I don’t know. I tend to think, Hey, let’s, let’s still, you know, create safety plans.
Stacie Boyar: Well, and I guess that they have installed better security systems or, uh, glass that can’t be broken through. I mean, I, I think some measures have been put in place, which are positive mm-hmm, but it’s an awful thing.
Teri Miller: Yeah, absolutely. And it is, it’s a terrifying statistic in this country that those kind of mass shootings. Why? I don’t know, but it is, it is scary. That anxiety is real. It’s not just in our heads as parents, not just kids, our heads as parents, and we as parents have that anxiety too. I mean, I think we’ve, we’ve been saying a lot about, Hey, these are things you could let your kids listen to. No, you know what? As a mom, I need to deal with my anxiety because it is very real. That I’m scared sometimes to let my kids go out into public places, you know?
Stacie Boyar: Yeah. And I find myself and, and probably a lot of people, you kind of look for the exits now, which is nothing that I really had ever done before. Like Hmm. Okay. That, and if I need to get outta here, I can go that way. And that’s, you know, an awful thing that you have to think about now, but again, that puts the power. Maybe we feel, then we have the power to do something. If God forbid something happens.
Teri Miller: It’s like, it’s both right. Let’s know where the exits are, let’s know the safety plan and so that we can still go out into that public scenario, the concert, the high school event, the airport, the whatever, so that we still can go out. Let’s also learn the self soothing anxiety calming methods, so that we’ve got both things working together. Is that
Stacie Boyar: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I, I, you know, interestingly enough that I had, uh, one client that during the mass shooting in Parkland, they were, and there’s so many stories of children cuz it’s a huge high school. They were all kind of shoved in a closet. Uh, which I think they still do is one of the things. So it’s the entire classroom, whatever it was, 25 kids in a closet. And um, so, uh, this one girl was kind of crushed in the closet and. She got out, thankfully and now months and months later, maybe even a year later, she went on a field trip and, um, had to, no, there was a fire alarm at the hotel.
So at the Parkland shooting, a fire alarm, ironically went off before the shooting and then the, the shooter actually pulled the fire alarm. So a lot of noises, even before it actually happened. So now she’s on a field trip. Um, at a hotel and the fire alarm goes off at the school at the hotel and she experiences this horrible numbing in her arm and the whole weekend just such pain in her arm.
And what happened was we came to the realization through EMDR actually. And, and after that, that she was in this closet crush, there were kids sitting on her arm pushing on her arm. So now when she heard this fire alarm for the first time, since then she had this, this sensation in her arm again, and we kind of worked through that and, uh, got rid of that.
But you know what these kids are experiencing, they don’t understand and it’s, it’s so layered. Um, but you’re right. Having the tools and the strength to know I can go into the closet, I can do this, I can do the deep breathing. I can do the grounding. I have a huge toolbox of things that I can do. Um, hopefully puts their mind at ease a bit.
Dr. Amy Moore: Sure. And when you look at the number of days that kids go to school and the number of schools that are in the country, the chances of it happening are still slim. Yeah. Right. I mean, we hear it because it’s so tragic when we hear it. Um, but we can still use those statistics, um, as part of that evidence, um, against the daily fear. Right. That can it happen? Yes. The likelihood of it happening is low, but here’s what you can do.
Stacie Boyar: Yes exactly. Mm-hmm all right.
Teri Miller: Alrighty.
Dr. Amy Moore: Stacie, is there anything that you still wanna share with our listeners that you haven’t gotten to share today?
Stacie Boyar: Well, thank you again so, so much for having me, you can join me on Namastacie, the podcast, and You’re Not the Boss of Me geared for teens, um, and working through anxiety, which is a workbook, a journal, a manual with some little stories in it too.
Um, might be something else your teen can put in their toolbox to help them. But again, thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure.
Dr. Amy Moore: Oh, we’re so glad that you were with us today. Um, you just shared some actionable tips that our listeners can take away, um, to help their kids and themselves even.
Right. So we appreciate your insights and your wisdom today. Um, if you’d like more information listeners about Stacie, um, her website is Namastacie.com, N A M A S T A C I E.com. You can find her on Facebook @StacyBoyertherapy and on Instagram @Namastacie_Boyar. And we will put those links and her handles in the show notes as well as, um, a link to find her book on Amazon.
So thank you so much for listening today. If you liked our show, we would love it as if you would leave us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. If you would rather watch us, we’re on YouTube and you can find us on every social media channel @TheBrainyMoms. We’d like to thank, um, our sponsor today, LearningRx! Look,we know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.
Teri Miller: See ya!