Not By Chance Podcast

Parental Stamina:  What it Is and How to Build It - Allison Posell

March 05, 2020 Dr. Tim Thayne Season 1 Episode 15
Not By Chance Podcast
Parental Stamina:  What it Is and How to Build It - Allison Posell
Show Notes Transcript

Allison Posell is interviewed about a parent's stamina. Having been both a parent and a therapist, she shares her own stories of endurance. By the end, listeners will better understand how to create a sustainable lifestyle which will be realized in increased stamina.

Speaker 1:

What's life giving to you? What have you done this week has given you energy or that has given you sustainability for the journey ahead?

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

welcome to the not by chance podcast. This is Talmage Tim , thanks son and podcast manager today, dr Thanh . We'll be interviewing Alison Posel . This was recorded in 2019 during the homework bound advance. Today's topic is stamina. Dr Thane will be introducing her a little bit more. So we're going to just jump into this.

Speaker 4:

All right. I'm Tim Fain with the not by chance podcast and it's where we talk about intentional family living and we bring in different guests who have a perspective on how to actually do that. And so today we have Alison L a Homeward bound transition coach and a therapist. She's been practicing , uh, mental health counseling for 18 years. Uh, she spends a lot of our time working with entire families, sometimes teams and individuals. And prior to being a therapist, you were a nurse in the air force, which is really interesting to me. I'd love to dive into that. So, yeah,

Speaker 1:

but in the bigger perspective of what we do in our work, I always really do believe in repurposing my pain for something functional down the road. Otherwise I wasted and if it's going to be that significant, I'd rather not waste it.

Speaker 4:

Wow. So you're talking about everything from the physical to the emotional to the the family and to the individual. That's awesome. Well, today we're going to talk about something I think we all are going to be interested in. It's stamina. Yes . So I would like you, first of all, just give us your definition of stamina.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Can I tell you a story first about why I think it's important? It's near and dear to my heart. I know there's a new Mary Poppins movie now, but the first Mary Poppins, some people are probably, you know, too young to even know it existed. But anyway, some of us, do you remember that one? And there's a scene in it where Admiral boom, he's the retired Navy Admiral across the street and every day at six o'clock he shoots off his Canon . While a few minutes to six, the housekeeper looks at the clock and says post every one . And they all run to a space. One grabs the fishbowl , one grabs the China cabinet, one grabs the candelabra and then he shoots off the Cannonball . Everything goes arrived , but they catch it and nothing breaks. And then with actually, you know, Pat on the wall, everything straightens up and they go about their evening. And there's a lot of families that, that have these activities that are going on because of their children's behavior or what has been happening in their home where it's just, it just becomes second nature post everyone when something happens. And that happened in our family when we had a , one of our kids was um , one of our daughters had just a big struggle when she didn't get her way. And so she decided the way that she was going to show us was unhappy is she would take various items and flush them down the toilet. Candy, bars, balls, I mean, all kinds of things. I still can't eat a Milky way, just FYI, because that was one of the rappers that we always had to find, but it was on a second floor bathroom. So we would sit there and we would hear and see. The water began to trickle down onto the first floor on the couch, on the carpet, on a computer. And this was a repeated thing to the point that the minute you heard the change in the water, cause there's a difference in flushing. We were all post everyone that we didn't have to say it. We all knew someone grabbed the towels, someone moved the computer, someone moved the couch. We never want stop to think, why are we letting that behavior continue? Because we were in this reactive cycle of wondering what in the world is going to happen to us. Um, we never thought about treatment at the time because we were so , um, we were in survival mode. Just gutting it out, wanting to be okay and didn't know what else to do. So stamina at that point became very important to us because once we did realize, you know what, I don't think every family goes through this every day. What somebody flushes the toilet in their home. Um, we realized let's get her to treatment. And we were so relieved. I think she was too , she didn't have that pressure. But then we realized we were exhausted. We had no reserves and we thought, how in the world do you pick up from that? Because even 20 years later, if I hear a certain volume when the toilet flushes, I think Milky way bars messes computers and water. It's just something that doesn't go away. So the stamina became very important for us.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. And of course we , we deal with that all the time at Homeward bound, the stamina level of parents. So give us a definition of what stamina is in your [inaudible]

Speaker 1:

in your way of thinking. So stamina when I think stamina, I think strength. So it's this physical or mental strength to get things done or did you difficult tasks? We do difficult tasks all the time. You see , it takes stamina to do them over time in a way that you have something left over for when you need energy again. So it's being able to have this capacity to over long period of time complete a difficult task. It sounds like parenting, doesn't it ? I mean, even when they're 30 years old, sometimes it becomes different.

Speaker 4:

You know what I think of? What's that ? We're actually at our yearly advance here during this podcast and just last night we were challenged by, by someone to hang from a bar , uh, as long as we could. And I didn't want to do it. And we had one of our coaches who was up for that, Carolyn. So I'm sitting there thinking, I think I'm stronger than Carolyn. I think I can. I think I can hang on longer. We were supposed to hang on to that bar for two minutes and I thought I can, I think I can do that. At least I can. I can hang on there longer than Carolyn can hang on there. Right. So we get up there, started hanging on the bar and stamina comes into play. Now I'm starting to understand what was going on. I might be able to beat Carolyn and arm wrestle, but she kicked my rear. When it came to stamina, she kept holding onto the bark . I fell down. I don't think you guys saw that and I'm so glad nobody else thought that, but that that's , I'm just now clicking. I love this definition because it's doing something very difficult over a long period of time. That's correct. That's the difference. Awesome. So what are the signs that you're running out of stamina as a parent?

Speaker 1:

Well, let me start out. Of course I have to start out with another story. Okay. Because before we run out, we are maximizing our capacity. We are doing great things, and I learned this from something called Starling's law back in biology in college when we had to, well, we had to kill a turtle. I hated that. But what I learned from that was when you stress a muscle, it, it functions better and it becomes more productive. Then we moved that to the ICU and as we began to prepare patients for open heart surgery, we need to know how much pressure their body could handle in their heart pumping at the same time. And we would measure with periods of fluid, just a little bit of this, a little with that. And it got to the point that we, the heart would be pumping so well and we knew exactly how much pressure the anesthesiologist had to maintain the next day. An open heart surgery. But then they would say give them a half a CC. Not , not very much. I mean it's just a little bit. And one of our patients had a cardiac arrest. They were doing great and this much more. They all at once like that everything was good and then everything was bad. And so that's one of the struggles. And realizing how do you know when you're at your endpoint is because right before you're at your endpoint , you're at your maximum performance. And it's so easy to miss because things are going well.

Speaker 4:

This is called Starling's law. You know , I literally, this is so interesting cause I literally experienced that yesterday hanging on that bar. Um, because I think I'm doing pretty well and in a very rapid just amount of time. I went from doing pretty well to falling from that bar. And so I , I experienced that

Speaker 1:

it doesn't take much at all just all of a sudden. And if we, if we knew right before we were about to crash, it'd be a different story. But we don't, that's when the crisis hits and you realize I am in trouble. And sometimes those my family

Speaker 4:

now w and what's the big danger of that? I mean you think about what's the reality when that crash happens in a family system, let's say, and you're , you're kind of a max capacity. You're handling things okay and then all of a sudden you're not, what, what's kind of the outcome of, of that scenario?

Speaker 1:

Well, for us, we run a mess. We didn't think we needed help because we were really, we thought doing well, we're being very reactive to life. Not proactive, but we didn't think we needed help. We didn't have two people wrapped around us. We didn't have a therapist in, we didn't have any extra support for us to encourage us. Matter of fact, people were kind of thinking, your family is a little crazy. We thought we were a little crazy, but didn't everybody move their computer? When you know a toilet flush upstairs, I mean you begin to lose your sense of normalcy. So we had to from a very, very tired place, reach out for help. And that is very difficult to do because at that moment it is. Yeah,

Speaker 4:

that's, that's really good. So let's talk a little bit about um, some of the, some of the um, outcomes I guess of this crash. When, when you're losing, when you lose that stamina, what , what kinds of things happen?

Speaker 1:

Well, let's use a word from the business world because I really love it. Burnout. When you're burned out, you're at the end of your emotional, your physical, your spiritual capacity and you're at that place where you're thinking there's just, there's just nothing left. Now there's one definition that says it's really just all about lack of self care and just self neglect. I really liked it. I really liked that was a little too responsible on my part for the moment. But the point, getting to the end of your rope, it's really where you are and when parenting is not a nine to five job and you feel burned out, that makes you feel even less capable for the work ahead, thereby decreasing your stamina even more so when we're thinking about, it's not if I feel burned out as a parent, it's not that I don't love my kids, it's not that I don't want what's best for my kids is that I am tired, I'm exhausted and I don't know what else to do because nobody else steps in and says, Hey, I've got your job for you. Take a couple days off. That doesn't happen. And I would guess

Speaker 4:

a lot of the support network around them may not really understand what , uh , what it feels like to be at. They're truly at the end of their rope, so to speak. And, and, and so they're watching the flailing happen over here. [inaudible]

Speaker 1:

absolutely. Sometimes they even gossip about it cause they're like, Ooh, they were great and now they're not. What do you think happened? You know, it becomes that kind of headline news and it's almost embarrassing for a family because sometimes you don't see it coming either. So one of the ways there , there's several ways that we can look and see what's happening. That may be our stamina is dwindling and one is when the healthy people become unhealthy. And I think that's really important, particularly when you have siblings that have been healthy and you send one of the children off to treatment. Um , there's an example where I'm working, worked with the family or the treatment team suggested we think he needs to go to inpatient or um, therapeutic boarding school and, but not go back to the home. Well the mom can get it out, right? Cause that's, we like to get it out. It's that grit. We talk about his parents and they brought the son home, but the older sister could not handle it. She had this massive anxiety reaction. Day three, the kid is home, her brother's home, she says, I am going to go live with my grandparents until he somewhere else. So now we're looking at not only one needy child in the home, but his second one and then a stress on the parenting system because now two children are in distress, which puts the parents in distress. So when the healthy people become unhealthy, I need to look it up. So that's one good sign . Um, the another one is when we're more concerned about survival then sustainability, because all we would say is we just have to get through this or what can I do for you? I just have to survive. I don't even know. Instead of asking the question, is this sustainable? Can I sustain this over a long period of time? If that answer is no, I'm nearing the end of my capacity or my stamina. So is, is it about survival or is it about sustainability? So which question you ask , um , might point to the fact there might be less damage than you thought. If you are isolating from activities and relationships that are life-giving, then maybe it's time to step back and go, Hmm, there's nobody pouring into me. I'm isolated, I'm embarrassed. And that's also a sign that you don't have any energy or you're getting getting near the end. It's not uncommon to see marriages get into stress . And I think a lot of therapists would see that when there's a child that has some bigger issues, are taking a lot of energy in the family, the marriage often takes the hit and you'll hear it with the spouses and their frustration. So that is a concern because now not only, and mom and dad aren't okay in the marriage isn't okay, their parenting changes. And a lot of the principals we work with with homework bound, yet they're no longer unified. They don't have the energy to nurture the support for their children. They don't have the energy to even stay consistent. And that begins just a big, the bottom dropping out of,

Speaker 4:

it's like a , it's like a cascading effect, right? So it spills over that first level and, and you have the negative effects of that. But that's not all, because we're connected, you know, as a family system pretty tightly, and that's going to cascade down to the marriage and it's going to cascade further. And like you say, if you think about those chocolate fountains, that sounds great. Have you seen those? What it does? I think it fills up this cup. This one's full and this one's full. So when you get a little more over the top right, it's going to cascade down to that next one and it's already ready to spill. Right. And I think that's the visual that I'm starting to get. That is why it ends up cascading into lots of areas of life, multiple people starting to have mental health issues. Marriage is starting to struggle. And so yeah, that, that to me, I am a metaphor kind of guy and I, although chocolate's a lot better than any kind of, you know, collapse that we're talking about here, but I think we can visually see that in our lives. Um, so, so let's talk a little bit about , uh , how do we catch this early? I mean, it seems like everything we've talked about in our podcasts have been, well, if you can think of that this is coming ahead of time, what do you do about it so that you don't have this multiple layers of collapse in your physical health? I mean, talk about just an individual, right? You're going to see your health decline, you know, your, your patients go down. You're all of these things just inside the individual, let alone then the fact that that individual on for me, on my family and then here we go. So how do we detect this in ourselves soon enough and what do we do?

Speaker 1:

Well, detecting it soon enough again is difficult to do because right before we, before we crashed , we're doing great or we think we are. So I encourage people and hopefully with myself to be more proactive than reactive. So what do I know to be true for me to have stamina in any circumstance coming down the pike? Um, I do know that one thing that we always talk about with people is follow your treatment team recommendations. If you are bringing home a student against your treatment team recommendations, I really want to encourage you to be prepared, be proactive, and have all the things in place that you need as a parent to be able to manage the stress that this is wanting to bring to you and your family. Um , follow that treatment team recommendation. If you don't have a treatment team, get one. These people have a different, I have us , um , on the, on us, in our families and they're able to see from a different viewpoint. They can see the places where we might crash that we just don't have that vision yet and really trust them and be wrapped around it . So that's one thing really follow the treatment team recommendations I think is so terrible .

Speaker 4:

Can I throw something in there because I know what you're talking about as an outsider perspective. Yes. That the can see some things that you might not be able to see because you're the one living it . Right. And it's kind of like, I don't another metaphor, the frog that was boiled at one degree at a time and pretty soon it was too late and , and so you don't realize this is happening, but someone from the outside, he's kind of in tune with, with your family. I think about , uh, inside families. I think we're in tune with each other. We can, we can be some of the early detectors of someone getting close to that end of , uh , their stamina and, and you can be the one to, to be the warning voice that we're getting close. We need to do something different

Speaker 1:

and earlier is better. I'm a little bit at your ability today might not mean much, but if my child brings home a bad grade on a test the next day and somebody else acts out and it's been a hard week, it goes to whole different level, particularly in a family that's been under stress for a long period of time. So of course we need to eat well. Yeah . And we need to exercise and we need enough sleep, which is more than four or five hours a night. I know, I know. I think everybody goes to that point. Well great, I flunked that. But it's being able to have that, that is so, and the research is deeply immersed in saying that that is necessary for us to do well. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep , approach to this with your body, your mind, all of that. Yeah. You got to take care of the whole person. There's a family that I'm working with where the daughter was doing great and then she went off to see her older sister at college, took her cell phone and they didn't have the internet limits in the dorm room. So she was on the phone all night long, crashed three days later. I mean, the next three days, this isn't what happened . So we went back and she was, she didn't get her eight hours of sleep and this is one child that she doesn't get that eight hours of sleep. The whole family, if they're not careful, they all go post everyone you know and manage the old behaviors. So we want to be very aware of those. Just a little bit of change makes a big difference. Um , so we want to, of course, the wraparound, which we'll talk about all the time in Homeward bound, is having those healthy relationships around us. Healthy and nourishing relationships and people that have that good view of us or people to whom we are well known. If we don't have those, then we're kind of fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for a little more failure. Somebody needs to have good eyes on , on who we are and how we respond in our moments of stress because that will trickle down as you say, into our families. Uh, one of the things that I love that I read about this is great. It's on mental visualization. It's that , and you know, I have to mull over things. This is one of those that that I was thinking sometimes it thinks I think about, you know, a five minute escape to someplace else and it's helpful. It does change what happens up here, but then it says your brain doesn't even know the difference if you think about going somewhere versus doing it because the , the impact can be the same. So I thought, you know, you mentioned chocolate was really the one thing that if I think about eating it, does that mean I'm still going to gain weight? So I really wasn't buying into the visualization at the moment, but I do think it was very, very helpful. Um, and I personally look at your , look at your schedule, look at your schedule. Yes, let's do therapy, right? Yeah . Do you have any margin in your schedule? And so, so here's what I blame Jeanette on that . Oh, blaming schedule for anybody. Think about when the kids come home from treatment, they know that parents want to structure their time, but often they make them over-scheduled . And if you have an introverted child or shy extroverted child and you throw these kids into a schedule, that would make us hyperventilate. You're only adding to the stress. So think about your life as a Microsoft word document and you go to type it up and you say, Oh, I can put all this on one page, but wait, if I narrow the margins, I can put more on what page. So I narrow the margins. Right. And then wait , I only have two more sentences. So then I go customize the margins and I go to print and it says this is exceeding the margins listed on this page. Are you sure you want to continue? I'm thinking this is telling me something somewhere in our

Speaker 5:

lives when we keep pushing to the edge and we lose our margin , um , we need to keep those margins. You're saying word count is more important than a one page. It's the word count on that page. As long as it stays within the margins. Okay . That the , the margins that are best for us. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So what we can fill in and still have margin. So if we lose our margins , um, and that's a struggle. So how do we, how do we be more proactive? We keep our margins. That's schedule kids' schedule, our own schedule. What else do I have there? Um, let me, let me ask you to just kind of a homework bound question. Okay. Um, so as a transition coach at Homeward bound, how can someone in that role potentially be a , uh , overseer of this in , in any way? Is there any any role for that person to play in? In the process of kind of watching out for stamina and and do we look at that had Homeward bound? We have to. What are the questions these people

Speaker 1:

are our parents ask , how do we know when we have to go back to treatment and that that's ultimately some of their concerns. Since relapse is such a big concern, they want to know if they relapsed . Do we have to go back to treatment? But let's back up just a little bit. When I first meet my families and they're talking about their focuses on their child, typically and I share it , I'm so glad you're focusing on your child because that is why we were brought together. What I want to encourage you and I want you to know is that while you are watching your child, we're all watching your child. I've got my eyes on you because I know that for you to maintain the stamina you need for what is happening, not now. We're excited now it's a good day. There is a testing phase coming down the road and for you to be prepared for that, I want you to know that I'm going to be watching you, not in a creepy way but in a way that can encourage you to say, you know what brings, what's life given to you? What have you done this week that has given you energy or that has given you sustainability for the journey ahead. So if we keep watching our parents and for the stamina, that's important. Then also looking at the stamina of the child because if you have rigid parents, high pressuring parents or parents that that didn't do as much work as some of our other families have done, then there becomes an increased issue with the child that all of a sudden they become the identified problem again in the family and their stamina is limited. So then let's talk about the chocolate fountain. The whole family now has a struggle with stamina. So when we watch stamina, if the family stamina really decreases, then we have some other safety issues. And those are some of the big concerns that we have about if we have to go back to treatment. But stamina is such a vital part of watching what's happening with the family and being that voice to encourage people not to be angry or you know, you did this wrong, but what's bringing life to you today? And when we celebrate the progress that they make, we're actually giving them courage, which is encouragement. Great job. You did something today that you haven't done in six years. You did something today you haven't done since

Speaker 5:

your, your son and your daughter came home. That actually gives them some life to be sustainable so they can prepare for the days ahead and so noted , noting that progress not perfection really is part of helping that stamina for them to remain proactive. Alison , I think I need you as my coach anytime. I think you, I think you would be an amazing coach at helping me and anybody out there really understand the importance of this. You've lived it and you now you've, you've also coached people through this. So thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Amazing information. Very practical. It's going to help us all

Speaker 6:

do this better. So thanks again. Thanks , Tim.