When in Doubt, Shake It Out
Kati Morton, YouTube star and licensed marriage and family therapist, talks about how our mental health has changed during the pandemic. She offers practical, usable advice on how to release the anxious energy that’s been building up inside of us these past 9 months. Plus, why we need to start having open, honest conversations with our kids about what’s going on with the pandemic. “I’d encourage you to not sugarcoat it. You can say it’s really scary. I don’t understand a lot of things. I’m not a scientist. This is what they’re telling us. This is what we’re doing. This is why we’re wearing masks. This is why I was sad the other day. We need to put context to it.”
You can follow Kati Morton on Twitter and Instagram @katimorton.
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Interested in learning more about Kati? Check out the links below:
- Subscribe to Kati’s YouTube channel, where she posts new videos every Monday: https://www.youtube.com/user/katimorton.
- Listen to Kati’s podcast, Ask Kati Anything: https://www.katimorton.com/podcasts.
- Keep up with all of Kati’s work on her website: https://www.katimorton.com/.
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Kati Morton 00:04
Hi, I’m Kati Morton, and you’re listening to GOOD KIDS. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. And today I’m going to talk about how we can manage and cope with all this going on during this global pandemic.
Due to COVID, our mental health has changed a lot. I think that the first thing that I’ve noticed with my patients and my viewers alike, is that if we were already struggling, we’ve had a really tough go. It’s been really difficult. Because so I know the science behind it. So I’ll try to explain why. Because sometimes I don’t know if this helps anybody else. But when I know the reason behind, I’m like, Oh, I’m not making this up. I’m not completely crazy, or losing my mind. I mean, it can feel like that. And that’s fine, too. Because things are crazy. However, what is happening is we have a threat to our safety, and potentially our life, and the safety and life of those that we care about. And technically speaking, we call that if we fear for that we call it PTSD. So, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, if you’ve been hyper vigilant if you’re like, Clorox wiping everything that you’ve ever touched in your entire life, I totally get it. It’s we don’t know what to do with this energy, right? So what happens as our body prime’s us for fight flight or freeze? So we have a scary thing. What do we do?
Do we run? Do we fight it? We can’t really run from a virus right? We can’t even necessarily fight it. We don’t actually understand. I mean, I’ve been taking zinc. Is that helping? Nobody knows. This is just a guess. Have I Clorox wipe things? All the time. Is that helping? I don’t really know, right? We just don’t. It’s kind of a crapshoot. And we’re just trying to figure it out. And so because our body is gearing up for this action, right, let’s say that the threat was a bear and not a virus, oh, well, crap, I can run from that bear. And I can get my car and I can drive away. Flight is really easy. Am I going to fight it? Probably not. You know, that’s not a good choice. But see, I have options. But when it comes to the virus, we don’t. And so that energy that I would use to run away or to get away, is just hanging out inside of me. And that we’re not supposed to be in our stress response that fight, flight, freeze for very long, it’s usually short lived, which, you know, it makes sense if it’s that bear.
But having that energy run around in us all day, every day, leads to things like making us more irritable, I can’t tell you how many times I drive just barely like to the grocery store. And like 12 people honk. And I’m like, Holy moly, you guys got to get together. The good news is that there is a lot that we can do. To help us better cope. I think that when we’re feeling anxious, depressed, grief stricken, on edge, all of those are things that we can tackle. And there’s a couple of different ways we can do that. And the first is going to sound silly, but I’m telling you right now, if you get up and do this, you’re gonna feel so much better is shaking it out. Like literally, like you’re one of those things that the cars dealerships, that like balloon goes all the way down and comes all the way up, do a full body shake. And the reason is, remember that energy, I talked about being stuck inside of our system, we have to find a way to get it out. And that’s why I’ve been encouraging all of my audience members and my patients is to exercise in a way that feels good.
That leaves you feeling a little bit more energized, not exhausted, I don’t want anything hurting. But shaking it out gets that energy and that stress out. There’s this amazing psychologist by the name of Peter Levine that came up with a type of therapy called Somatic Experiencing. And it has been it’s really beneficial for my patients who have had trauma in their life, or struggle to be in their bodies, because it focuses on the fact that we need to move energy through. And it sounds kind of woowoo I know, but I promise you it works. And the reason that this came to be which I think is a really cool story. So I’ll try to keep it short but in like in the wild, okay, let’s say that you and I are deer’s out on a plane, and a lion comes out. And I’m sure I’m talking about two totally different environments and they don’t live in the same area together, but just bear with me.
So when we the deer know that there’s a threat, right? We run. And when we get to safety, he noticed on a safari that when they got to safety that is full body shakes, the deer did full body shakes. And that was a way to regulate their nervous system when they were no longer in threat. And I know that that sounds like but we’re not deer. But our nervous systems are very similar and the way that we have to expel the energy of that fight, flight, freeze. And so he thought, huh, I wonder if this would work with some of my patients who’ve been traumatized. And sure enough, having them shake it out from head to toe, made them feel better. So give it a go, I think that’s something that’s easy. It takes like, you know, 20 seconds, you can really give a good shake. And then another real antidote to the stress response that we’re experiencing is connection. So if you can make the time I know Zoom calls, people are doing those, and those are helpful. But we actually find in person, real contact with a person who loves us knows us cares about us eye contact, a hug, all of that is really powerful.
And it calms our nervous system down again, because that’s really the goal of what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to calm our nervous system, because it’s priming us for action, and we have no action. And so we have to find a way to help it. It’s almost like when you’re putting a child to sleep, you’re like, everything’s okay, good night, you know, you rub their back, you sue them and they go to sleep, and we’re trying to do that for ourselves, soothe ourselves calm ourselves down, so we can relax. I think when it comes to children right now, honestly, of any age, but particularly I think, I would guess probably around like, seven or eight, up to teen, you know, teens in high school. And I mean, everybody else, right? People are people. But when we’re younger, we usually get, there’s quite a few things we usually get by going to school, right? We get activity. So that movement, I’m talking about that shaking it out, we usually get to do that, like, all the time, I remember as a kid, I mean, I was super active in sports and stuff. So that’s just one thing, right? Even if, you know, they’re just little tykes, like scoring on the wrong goal, because they’re confused, they’re still running it out, right?
And that movement is really important. But then, you know, Flash forward to me in high school, I played softball and soccer. And we also have PE or recess when you’re younger, right? There’s all this activity. And I think that’s the one thing that if parents, and if kids can find a way to insert new activities, like there’s even, at the very least, let’s say you’re in an apartment, like me, there are video games out there that are active. I remember back in the day, like the Wii Fit, and there’s all sorts of ways that we can get some activity. I mean, YouTube’s a great resource, right? If you have an area in your rec room, that you can, like, do an exercise, play a game, do something that’s active, do that with, you know, make time for that, do that with your friends, if you can get connected on the internet, so you can talk to them about it. Or as a family or you know, anything like that, I really think the movement is the number one thing that kids are going to be missing, and I worry about that. And then if you think back, I also mentioned connection, and they’re not getting to see any of their friends anymore.
And so I do love the idea, if possible, have pods of like small groups, if we can get tested, and then we can have people in our bubble. And those are our people and we get to see them. I think that if there’s like another family, that both the parents are working from home, and you kind of have a pact that you’re gonna, you know, we’re only hanging out with these people, we’ll let you know, we’ll get tested regularly, however you can make it work. So you’re comfortable. I think it’s really important for children to be around children their own age. And then the last thing that I think is really important for all of us, but especially for children, and as we get into the younger ages of children, is giving them a story and an understanding of what’s happening. And what I mean by that is if children don’t have all the information, and I’m talking younger children, I’m talking maybe like eight and younger, if they don’t have all the information, and let’s say you just lost your job, and you’re really stressed out and you’ve cried at home, and something or you know, I don’t know, someone in your life got ill, and you’re really scared. Children pick up on that.
And we think we can hide it, we think oh, they don’t know what’s going on. Oh, they know. And they’ve known from the beginning, but they just don’t understand. And so instead of that the thing is when they don’t have all the information, the only thing they try to do is put a story together. And because they understand themselves, they always insert themselves into it. I must have done something to upset mom. Maybe I ran her late that one day when she was supposed to go to work. And that’s reason she got fired. You don’t know what children think. And so that’s why it’s important more now than ever. I mean, we should always be doing this. But really now we need to have conversations with our children regularly about what’s happening. give them space and time to talk about it. I know teenagers will be like, I don’t want to get out of my face or whatever, I’d assume something like that. That’s how I was. But just giving them the time and space that they need to, to ask you what they’re worried about and for you to give them a true story.
Kati Morton 09:57
And I’d encourage you to not sugarcoat it. You don’t have to make light of it. You can say it’s really scary. I’ve been scared. I don’t understand a lot of things. I’m not a scientist. This is what they’re telling us. This is what we’re doing this why we’re wearing masks. This is why I was sad the other day, we need to put context to it. And then the important thing is asking them, do you have any other questions? Or know that it’s okay that you’re sad. You can cry anytime you can come and tell me because that will prevent. What I’m really worried about is like, the ripple effect of this later, like mental health for all of us, especially children. Next year, or two years from now, however long this goes on. I’m worried that it’ll only get worse and so we have to really talk to each other about it. And be honest about it and, and leave space for conversation.
You can watch me every Monday I release a video on my YouTube channel KatiMorton I also have a podcast that goes out every Thursday, ASK KATI ANYTHING! You can follow me across all socials at @KatiMorton, thank you so much for listening to GOOD KIDS
GOOD KIDS is a Lemonada Media original. Supervising producer is Kryssy Pease, associate producer is Alex McOwen and Kegan Zema is our engineer. The show is executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. The music is by Dan Molad with additional music courtesy of APM music. Check us out on social at @LemonadaMedia. Recommend us to a friend and rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want to submit a show idea, email us at email@example.com. Until next week, stay good