227: The Trauma of Parenting and How to Heal, with Dr. Aimie Apigian, MD, MS, MPH

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Parenting itself can be traumatic — it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders to protect your child while also teaching them to live their truth and live it fearlessly. When you add in neurodivergence, you amplify the stress, anxiety, and intensity. And your body holds onto that stress, anxiety, and intensity — it doesn’t feel safe and it signals you not just emotionally and mentally, but physically as well. 

I’m honored to have the founder of The Biology of Trauma, Dr. Aimie Apigian, with me in this episode to discuss not only the trauma and what it may feel like for you in the ways your body is responding, but also the process of repair and healing. Listen in to also hear Dr. Aimie take me through two very short exercises to help relieve the stress and overwhelm right when it hits us the hardest.

3 Key Takeaways

01

Neurodivergent children may struggle to navigate the neurotypical system, leading to physiological breakdowns due to stress. It’s essential to understand and support their unique experiences.

02

The autonomic nervous system plays a crucial role in signaling safety and needs, both for neurodivergent children and their parents. Recognizing its power and understanding trauma responses can help parents cope with challenging situations.

03

Addressing biochemical imbalances through nutritional supplement plans can make children’s nervous systems less sensitive and improve their resilience. Check out the guide on traumahealingaccelerated.com for valuable insights into the three most common imbalances.

What You'll Learn

Highlighting the physiological breakdowns that neurodivergent kids experience due to not being equipped to handle the neurotypical system

Importance of starting small and building up, acknowledging that it’s okay to not be able to manage everything

Discussion on the autonomic nervous system and its role in signaling safety and needs for parents of neurodivergent children

Explanation of how trauma response overwhelms the body’s ability to process and take in what is happening

Acknowledgment that the autonomic nervous system is more powerful than the brain and central nervous system

Understanding the illogical or irrational behaviors caused by trauma responses as survival mechanisms

Feelings of compassion fatigue and not always being able to fulfill parenting purpose

Emphasis that trauma is not just psychological or emotional, but also a physical condition of the body

Differentiating stress (ability to catch the balls) from trauma (inability to catch all the “balls”)

Resources

Some of the resources may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

Dr. Aimie’s Free Bonus for Listeners: Steps to Identify and Heal Trauma

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Work with me to level up your parenting — online parent training and coaching  for neurodiverse families.

My Guest

Aimie Apigian, MD, MS, MPH

Dr. Aimie is the leading medical expert on how life experiences get stored in the body and restoring the body to its best state of health through her signature model and methodology, The Biology of Trauma™. She is a double board-certified medical physician in Preventive Medicine and Addiction Medicine. She has a Masters in Biochemistry and a Masters in Public Health. In addition to her medical training, she is also a Certified Functional Medicine physician and has training and certifications specifically in neuro-autoimmunity, nutrition, and genetics for addictions, mental health, and mood and behavioral disorders. She has several certifications in various trauma therapies including the Instinctual Trauma Response Model (an art trauma therapy), Somatic Experiencing (developed by Dr. Peter Levine), and NeuroAffective Touch (Dr. Aline LaPierre).

Dr. Aimie brings you The Biology of Trauma™: a new lens and a methodology that courageously both adds to and bridges trauma work and medicine by reverse-engineering the chronic effects of trauma on the nervous system and body on a cellular level.

Dr. Aimie’s personal life experiences lead her into trauma therapy training, first for her adopted son, and then for herself. A unique lens for understanding trauma has come out of it, joining the two worlds of neuroscience and trauma therapy uniquely. It became the thread that ties it all together in a way that clinicians and patients find understandable and easily applied within their daily life.

Dr. Aimie offers science-based solutions on how to rewire the nervous system with The Biology of Trauma. Accelerating the healing journey through recovery to resilience, presence, and aliveness. Dr. Aimie is the founder and CEO of Trauma Healing Accelerated, offering her foundational online course: “The 21 Day Journey to Calm Aliveness”, which is an experiential journey into the nervous system that is open to all as well as her 8 module certification course for practitioners, “Biology of Trauma” that teaches the protocols of addressing The Biology of Trauma on the different systems of the body.

Transcript

Aimie Apigian [00:00:03]: If I were going to toss you a ball, you'd be able to catch it. But what if before you even caught that ball, I tossed you another one, and then another, and then another? Things are coming at you too fast, and balls are going to start hitting you, falling to the ground. So as long as we're able to catch the balls, we call that stress. But the minute that we start getting overwhelmed and our bodies can't catch all of those balls, then that's the difference that changes to trauma in the body.

Penny Williams [00:00:32]: Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to the Beautifully complex Podcast. I am super excited to have Dr. Amy with me from the Biology of Trauma Summit and many, many other hats that you wear as well. And we're going to talk about trauma and parenting, this specific parenting journey that we've had raising neurodivergent kids. But I first want to start dr. Amy, will you just let us all know who you are and what you do?

Aimie Apigian [00:01:25]: Sure. Yeah. So, I'm Dr. Amy Apigian, and I am now doing online educational and experiential programs around healing stored trauma in the body. Medical physician. I'm double board certified in preventive medicine and addiction medicine and actually have two master's degrees master's in Biochemistry, master's in Public Health. So I am about as geeky as they come and love science and feel that that's been part of my journey around trauma, is not just taking it at face value and what other people have said about it, but really needing to understand the mechanism of, wait a second. How does stress and trauma actually become our physical health? And why do we get stuck in it? Why can the body seem to heal anything else? Like when we have a surgery or when we get cut, the body seems to be able to heal itself just fine, and yet when it comes to the trauma, it doesn't seem to bounce back and we find ourselves still reacting or feeling with unresolved grief or it just doesn't seem to heal itself in these areas. And why is that? So that's kind of been my study and my practice and what I get to share with people and help them find that clear path forward for healing.

Penny Williams [00:02:39]: Yeah. And I find that we have a shift toward really focusing on healing in mental and emotional health. Finally, we are starting to recognize that it's not just our physical health that we need help with sometimes, but it's all of our sort of well being, the whole package, right?

Aimie Apigian [00:03:02]: Yeah. And realizing just how much of that whole package affects our health. And I didn't realize the extent of that before, and I went through medical school. So if even going through medical school, I didn't learn that, of course this isn't common knowledge and other people wouldn't know just to what extent it actually takes a toll on our bodies and in what way specifically, which for me then gives me all of the hope. Because if I can know exactly what has happened, then I can know where I need to bring in tools and support to be able to reverse that damage and get my life, get my health, get my relationships back on track where I want it and not feel like I'm just along for the ride and there's nothing I can do about it. Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:03:47]: It's so easy to get stuck in that place of just along for the ride. I mean, I've personally struggled with that a great deal, especially once my kids were adults. Then I was like, now what? Right? And it's not that they don't need me still, and they happen to still be at home and part of my life, but a lot of the struggle that we had when they were younger is gone. And I'm not sad about that at all, right. But somehow it sort of leaves this void, maybe a void of purpose, almost. Yeah. So I want to first start, I think, by defining what we mean by trauma okay. And talking a little bit about that interconnectedness between that mental, emotional, physical health and how trauma impacts those things.

Aimie Apigian [00:04:44]: Yeah. And that's a great place to start, Penny, because I and many others have always seen trauma as something psychological, as something mental, perhaps emotional as well, because it obviously can put us into some negative emotions and spiral us down, but we've seen it as just that. Whereas what I've come to understand and see is no trauma is actually physical and there is a specific biochemical process. There are specific physiological changes that make us go into a trauma response. And if those physiological changes don't happen, trauma doesn't happen. And so trauma is actually a very physical condition of the body. You could call it a symptom, even like a chronic health condition, just like anything else that's maybe like an inflammatory or chronic digestive issues. Chronic trauma is a physiological biochemical process that's happening in the body. And when we can see that, it changes everything. So then we ask, well, then what is trauma? What can cause these changes in the body? And it's anything it doesn't even have to be an event. It's anything that, for any reason, at that time in our life overwhelmed our body and overwhelmed our body's ability to respond to it in that moment and feel like it could respond to it. So, as an example, Penny, if I were going toss you a ball, you'd be able to catch it. But what if before you even caught that ball, I tossed you another one and then another and then another and then another. Pretty soon your body is going to be overgrown because just things are coming at you too fast, and your body literally can't process all of that, and balls are going to start hitting you, bouncing off and falling to the ground. And so as long as we're able to catch the balls that are coming at us, we call that stress. And we're in this kind of, like, higher energy state where we're like, okay, what's going on now? What's happening next? And what do I need to do? And that's stress. But the minute that we start getting overwhelmed and our body starts dropping balls, it can't catch all of those balls, then that's the difference that changes to trauma physiology in the body. And same thing. What if I threw ten balls at you at once? You can catch one. Maybe. I don't know. Sometimes when ten things come at us at once, we can't do any of them.

Penny Williams [00:07:11]: Exactly. Yeah.

Aimie Apigian [00:07:14]: That then is the trauma response, because it literally is overwhelming the body's ability to take it all in and to process what's happening. And so what that does to the body is it actually changes our state of our autonomic nervous system. So we have a central nervous system, which is our brain, also, including our spine. And that is where there's the logic, it's the motor movement, so that if I think about moving my arm, I can move my arm. It's that level of control of the systems. But yet what actually keeps our body alive is the autonomic nervous system. But it doesn't just keep the body alive, it tells the body how to be alive. So not just telling our heart how fast to beat, but how forceful are we going to beat, how fast, how slow are we going to speed it up right now? Or is now the time to slow it down? So it's not just telling the heart to beat. It's telling it how to beat. It's not just telling our lungs to breathe. It's telling it how fast or slow to breathe, how big or shallow to breathe. So it literally is informing our body it's like the operating system of our computer. It's informing it how to be alive right now. And it's basing its decisions entirely on the internal physiology, the internal what we call homeostasis. So what we need to do to stay alive, that is the job of the autonomic nervous system. Which is why, Penny, it is actually more powerful than our brain and our central nervous system. Because in those moments, and I guarantee you that many in your audience will be able to relate to this, that we can decide something like, okay, I'm never going to eat that chocolate again. I'm never going to eat ice cream late at night again. I'm never going to right. And then three days later, we're back sneaking, hiding in the corner, eating our ice cream, and we're like I said, I'd never do this again. Why? Well, because your central nervous system, your brain, can decide something. But what's even more powerful than our brain is our autonomic nervous system. And it does whatever it feels like we need to do in order to survive. And so, yes, in that moment, our autonomic nervous system has decided that eating that bowl of ice cream is actually a survival thing, and we won't be okay if we don't do that. So we can then again, with this lens, we can start to have so much more grace towards ourselves and being able to realize that oh, these reactions that I have these responses that I have where I shut down and I just can seem to be going through the motions but not really feeling alive and with purpose. And I'm just going through the motions of life. This is actually my body's response. It's not a conscious decision I'm making now that I'm consciously aware of it. Well, now I can do something about it. But we have this trauma response that is based on survival. It's not something that we understand. Why would eating a bowl of ice cream be a survival thing? Logically, we don't understand, but we feel it, right? But we feel it. And if we try to not do those things that our body is like moving us towards, you will start to feel very anxious. You'll start to probably sweat. You'll probably start to go through all of these, again, physiological changes because your autonomic nervous system has decided, no, you don't understand. This is a survival thing. And that's the trauma response is it's a survival thing. And it's a survival thing when we feel overwhelmed and our body is overwhelmed with everything that's on our plate and everything that's coming at us.

Penny Williams [00:11:04]: Yeah, I love the analogy you used with the balls coming at you. And as you were talking about that, I was thinking back to instantly in my mind, my son at school and how traumatic that was for him. But now I have even a new level of understanding that because, and this is true for so many of our neurodivergent kids, all these balls are coming at them, but they're not equipped because they're not neurotypical. So they're in this neurotypical system, but they're not equipped for all those neurotypical balls. And the stress then causes them physiologically to break down because their nervous system has said, I'm not safe, I can't do this. Right? I'm not safe, I can't do this. And I've learned a lot of this after he had those experiences and some of it during, and really understanding that it's okay for some of our kids, it's okay for us as adults to not necessarily be able to manage what somebody else might be able to manage. It's okay to say, I can't catch ten balls. Let me try two first, right? Or let's start with just one with you really close to me. Let's start really small, right? Let's find what's doable and then we can build, right? And we talk so much on this podcast and I do in the work that I do as well about the autonomic nervous system because really it's that sort of compass, right? It's signaling you constantly with what you need and whether or not you feel safe. And for parents to understand that, especially parents of neurodivergent kids who I think often have an extra sensitive nervous system, it's so powerful for us to get that. And that analogy that you gave just really broke it down so simply, I feel like everybody listening right now is having just all these light bulbs and AHA moments. And it's wonderful because when we have that as parents now, we can really help our kids right now. We get it. And that's so important.

Aimie Apigian [00:13:18]: We may not even see all the balls that are hitting them. Their nervous system, like you say, is so much more sensitive, it's raw. There usually are not the filters that other kids have. And so they're experiencing balls hitting them, sensory balls hitting them from all angles that we may not even be aware of until their behavior melts down. And being able to see their behavior in that lens of, oh, your body just completely got overwhelmed and you're having to melt down. And this is what it needs. It needs that sense of everything just go away for a second. Yeah, just give us some time, give us some sense of safety. And that's where the parents can come in, right? Because that is who they get to be. They get to be that protector of those sensory balls and say, all right, I'm here to shield those, I'm here to protect you from those right now. And what is it that they need? Oftentimes it's a tight hug, right, so that their sensory system is feeling that instead of all these other things coming at them. And then we get to learn, oh, then there's tools that we can use that give them that sense of a tight hug all day long. So that doesn't just have to be me giving them a tight hug, right? They can have these sensory tools that help protect their system. And then of course, as parents, then we're not as traumatized because what can traumatize us is the unpredictability of their behaviors and we never know when they're going to melt down and what necessarily that meltdown is going to look like. And that sense of we are not safe then is what creates trauma for us as parents.

Penny Williams [00:15:05]: You and I were talking before we start recording about this, that I sort of had this epiphany this morning as I was looking more deeply into your work, about the fact that maybe what I'm struggling with right now in my own mental health journey is actually the trauma that I experienced and sometimes continue to experience in raising this kid and the deep compassion fatigue and just not always being able to fulfill that purpose that I know that I have for him. Right. Feeling less than sometimes. I mean, I could list a thousand things right now that have come up over 20 years of being this kid's parent. Right. But I realized that maybe I have some trauma here that I am needing to heal, that I need to recover from. And I really wanted to explore that with you, because I feel like I'm certainly not alone. I know I'm not alone. It's not just a feeling. Right. I know that our listeners here get that, too, and they're feeling that, too, and I can kind of illustrate that with a quick story. My son had a lot of school avoidance. It started in fourth grade. Suddenly, he couldn't force himself to go in the building. The first time it happened, he literally ran through traffic after my car to try to get back in. He just all of a sudden, his nervous system said, no, this is not a thing today. I cannot do this. Right. And we struggled with that all the way through graduation, and that was really tough for me as his parent, of course it was tough for him. Right. He's having a really hard time, so hard that he can't even force himself to walk into this building. Right. And I used to say, I have PTSD from this, because every time I dropped him off after that, for eight years, every day I pulled up to that building, my nervous system went berserk. I can feel it right now, actually. My stomach is tightening. There's a lump in my throat. I would get goosebumps all over my body. Just this rush of numbness, almost, that was hitting me, and it was my nervous system saying, oh, no, we may not be safe. Right. This may not be a good morning. So how do we sort of, in those moments, process that and get through that, but also now recover? How do we get to a place where it's not constantly still affecting us? Does that make sense?

Aimie Apigian [00:17:45]: Yeah. No, it makes a lot of sense. Right. And that's why you know that you're not alone, and I know that you're not alone, and this is part of the toll that happens on what I consider as the most amazing parents who are doing such an amazing job and have the hardest job. So, Penny, do you have a pillow nearby around you at all right now?

Penny Williams [00:18:08]: I do. Okay.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:10]: Grab that pillow.

Penny Williams [00:18:11]: Okay. I love interactive.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:13]: Yeah. I'm going to lead you through an exercise that I do in my 21 day journey.

Penny Williams [00:18:19]: Awesome.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:19]: Yeah. I just want you to bring that pillow and put it you said that there was something in your stomach that you felt just as you were remembering that and just put the pillow over that area.

Penny Williams [00:18:28]: Okay.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:29]: Yeah. And as you do, I'm just going to ask you to notice, like, do you notice that changes inside of your body now that you have that pillow there?

Penny Williams [00:18:40]: Kind of feels protective.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:43]: What does protective feel like to you?

Penny Williams [00:18:45]: A little more safe.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:47]: How do you know that it feels protective? How do you know that it feels safe?

Penny Williams [00:18:52]: It feels like a barrier between me and what might not be safe.

Aimie Apigian [00:18:57]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:18:58]: Also feels soft and comfortable.

Aimie Apigian [00:19:01]: What feels soft?

Penny Williams [00:19:03]: The actual pillow itself.

Aimie Apigian [00:19:05]: The actual pillow itself. And before you put the pillow, what did your stomach feel? Was it more of like a tightening? Was it like a twist? Or was it just sharp?

Penny Williams [00:19:17]: Pain tightening, tension tightening, twisting. Okay, not sharp.

Aimie Apigian [00:19:23]: Not sharp. And how is that tightening now?

Penny Williams [00:19:27]: It's almost gone.

Aimie Apigian [00:19:32]: Penny, all you did was put a pillow over yourself.

Penny Williams [00:19:34]: I know. How am I not known to do this for 40 some years?

Aimie Apigian [00:19:40]: All right, now let's keep the pillow there. And with your hand, your right hand is maybe a good one. Whichever one actually will experiment with both. But you mentioned also the throat. So go ahead and just put your hand to your throat in whatever way feels comfortable. Meaning we're going to just need to experiment and kind of touch around our throat and how much pressure, what location feels good. And you can explore whether it feels better with your right hand or your left hand. And what are you noticing now?

Penny Williams [00:20:12]: A release of tension.

Aimie Apigian [00:20:14]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:20:15]: Amazing tension.

Aimie Apigian [00:20:17]: From where?

Penny Williams [00:20:19]: Everywhere, actually. I feel like my whole body just kind of took a breath.

Aimie Apigian [00:20:23]: Yeah. For those who are listening to this, I literally saw that in Penny. Like, her shoulders dropped. Like, I saw her body just kind of like almost like a thank you.

Penny Williams [00:20:36]: Yeah. And what I noticed, because you and I can see each other right now, is that you put your hand up, you were calm, you sort of took a breath. And I co regulated to that. Right. Which is what we teach parents all the time, co regulation with our kids. And we just did that together.

Aimie Apigian [00:20:57]: Yes, we did.

Penny Williams [00:20:58]: It's pretty magical.

Aimie Apigian [00:21:00]: Pretty magical, how I describe this. And we get to do this for ourselves. This, for me, is where we actually start with trauma. Work with moms and parents is just simple stuff like this, because oftentimes what we find is that there's so much underneath the surface. Penny it goes so deep. It goes 20 years back.

Penny Williams [00:21:26]: Right.

Aimie Apigian [00:21:27]: And we can actually tap into too much too fast, and it's scary and it's messy, and we're like, this is why I don't do this, right?

Penny Williams [00:21:35]: Yes.

Aimie Apigian [00:21:35]: This is why I just pull myself together and get through without allowing myself to pause, without allowing myself to feel this, because I feel like if I let myself go there, I would be overwhelmed. And it's true. Many therapies actually goes too deep, too fast. And so this is exactly where I start with moms and parents. We're just going to actually just focus on our body sensations and come in and provide a sense of safety and a sense of support, and we just watch our bodies respond to that. And then, guess what? That's it for today. We don't need to talk about the past. We don't need to go into all the stories, because that's not actually where the trauma is. The trauma is this tension in our throat right now. The trauma is this tension, this tightening in my stomach right now, in this moment. And so how can I soften that, even just a little bit? How can I soften that? Because then that is how I slowly start to soften all of the trauma that has held me so tightly that I'm still in my reactions. And yet I'm doing it in a safe way, a very safe and gentle way, so that I can still go through the rest of my day. And I'm not falling apart. I'm not crying on everyone because I know that other people still need me. I still have responsibilities. So nice, safe way to start to do trauma work.

Penny Williams [00:22:58]: Yeah, I notice how gentle it is. My own son, in his therapy, he would wax and wane on how willing he was to engage, right? Because he always felt like he went there, he talked about all the bad stuff, and he left feeling worse. Then he went in, totally. And it's just striking me that it was that overwhelm. Like we do. We put up a wall to try to prevent overwhelm, and just this tiny, simple thing was really transformative. I can totally help my kids with this, right? I can use this for my own anxiety. I can use this for my own healing. Like, so many things just from those tiny two little activities you just taught me. It's amazing. And is this what we would call somatic therapy?

Aimie Apigian [00:23:49]: What I call somatic work. This is where I start everyone amazing work. That's important to do. And we do need to look at the biology. But even just this somatic work, like what you just did actually did change your biology. And those who go through my 21 day journey, which is my entry point for somatic work, and I teach 21 different somatic exercises just like these. They have 26% decrease in daily physical pain.

Penny Williams [00:24:16]: Wow.

Aimie Apigian [00:24:17]: 28% decrease in GI symptoms, 28% decrease in sleep issues. And so whatever we're doing here is actually changing our biology just with these exercises, which is pretty amazing. Which is pretty amazing. But even with that, there are some other things that we want to look at in terms of our biology. Things like magnesium deficiency, because most of these moms and parents are deficient in magnesium because of how much stress and trauma they've been under for the last several years. And magnesium is used up so much during stress and the trauma response. So we do need to look at some biology things. In fact, I would also recommend that for some of your parents who still have kids and their kids have a more sensitive nervous system, we do know several biochemical imbalances that will cause those sensitivities. So it's really important to look at the zinc, for example, or a copper to zinc ratio. These are things that when we identify them and we can put them on a nutritional supplement plan of just bringing in some things that will address those deficiencies. Their nervous systems are less sensitive, less raw. And so obviously that helps us as parents be less traumatized with the process.

Penny Williams [00:25:35]: Yeah. Calms the reactivity a little bit. And I'm imagining parents listening or saying, well, how do I know that? What do I do next to figure that out? And it's really working with an integrative med or functional med clinician right, to do some testing.

Aimie Apigian [00:25:50]: Yeah. And for those who are interested in those biochemical imbalances that I just mentioned, I do have a guide just on those on my website. So if they want to go to traumahealingaccelerated.com, right there on the home page, they scroll down to the resources section and there is a guide on the three most common biochemical imbalances and that would be the guide that I would want them to get. And it lays this out and includes the symptoms and traits of those who have these three different biochemical imbalances so that when they read it, they can kind of see where their children lie in whichever one. There are some people who have all three. So that's also a possibility. But it makes such a huge difference, especially when we can identify this when they're kids, because then their whole even growth and adolescence and going into adulthood is so much better with them being more resourced on a cellular level and so more resilient.

Penny Williams [00:26:44]: Yeah. And I want to ask one more question before we wrap up because I'm just imagining when my kids were younger, I was maybe less educated parent on all of these really interconnectedness of biology and behavior and that sort of thing. What do we do when we are in that overwhelm? What will we do when life is chaotic, kids are chaotic, there's so much to do and our whole system is just saying, enough. I just can't anymore. Right. Is there something that parents can do in those moments to kind of be a little protective? Almost, maybe?

Aimie Apigian [00:27:27]: Yeah. Well, let's do another exercise. Penny okay, so for this one, I call this one I have two names for this one, it's both The Push Away, but it's also Creating Space. So whichever one resonates. For those in your audience listening, feel free to use either name, whichever one you need. And what I do is I bring my hands up so as close to my shoulders as I can because we're going to push away this huge rock that's in front of us and it's so huge, Penny, that we're going to have to push very slow because it's bigger than us, it's thick. It's going to take all of our weight and strength to push this away. So I even kind of tend to ground my feet into the floor so that I can really lean into it. But we're going to need to go really slow because it's that big of a rock. And so start pushing and just moving your hands away, and you can feel almost like your hands digging into this rock as you try to push it away. Your arm muscles are fully engaged. We're at the gym, and we're doing weights, but you can see how slow I'm going. Like, you can almost slow it way down, probably slower than what you think you need to go. And when you get all the way out to the end, meaning your arms are fully extended, then you can pause right there until you just feel like your arms are ready to come down. And then you just gently lower your arms. And I have a spontaneous deep breath there, which is a sign that I've created some safety for my body. What are you noticing, Penny?

Penny Williams [00:28:58]: The same thing I noticed, like, resistance almost. I was engaging those muscles and kind of noticing the tension and then releasing it.

Aimie Apigian [00:29:12]: And how does your chest feel and your breath feel right now?

Penny Williams [00:29:16]: Relaxed.

Aimie Apigian [00:29:21]: So this is my go to for when that overwhelm hits me, and I feel like there's too many balls coming at me at once. I create space, give me space to breathe, give me space to think. And it takes, obviously, less than 60 seconds. But the effect on, again, my physiology, my biology, it gives me that window to be able to like, okay, what just happened? And what do I need to do? But without that pause, then my mind just starts to go into the hamster wheel spinning, and I'm spiraling, and I'm just going to be busy, but I'm not going to actually probably do the right thing because I haven't created the space for me to breathe and think first. But I also need something really fast. I don't have five minutes to go away and meditate.

Penny Williams [00:30:14]: Yeah. I'm just thinking that's quick enough that the kids can still be running laps around you and screaming, and it's okay for 60 seconds for you to just ignore it and do that exercise.

Aimie Apigian [00:30:27]: Yes. And you will have the clarity of mind then to be like, okay, I can see what's happening, and I can see what I need to do and be able to then do it with the calmness and yet the boldness of I have the clarity of what I need to do.

Penny Williams [00:30:44]: Yeah.

Aimie Apigian [00:30:44]: It's a powerful place to be as a mom.

Penny Williams [00:30:47]: Yes. Intentional and purposeful. We spend so little time in those spaces sometimes, but that's all we really want. Yeah. Awesome. Well, tell us a. Little bit about the Biology of Trauma summit, is that correct?

Aimie Apigian [00:31:04]: Yeah, I do. I put on an annual online virtual summit. And so this year, my goodness, I have interviewed over 45 experts, both in the trauma mental health, anxiety space. And so it's a bridge of both. So they'll learn things both on the trauma side, but then also on the medical and functional medicine side. There's going to be a lot of tools that are presented. So this will be also very educational, very practical. It's happening August 1 through seven. It's free, and so anyone can register and benefit from all of these experts coming together to share information and practical tools.

Penny Williams [00:31:40]: Awesome. I love online summits. They're such a great tool to really help people. I hope everyone who is listening will definitely check it out. Sign up, free, take part. We'll have a link in the show notes to that, as well as all the resources. We've talked about that activity I know that we just did with The Rock the Boulder. You have a video on Instagram with a similar activity, and I will link that up as well for folks so that they can have sort of a visual representation of what we were doing there, that they can practice that, too. And all of that's going to be in the show notes for the episode. And that's at Parenting ADHD and Autism.com two two seven for episode 227. And it has been such a pleasure, Dr. Amy. We have learned so much from you, and I so appreciate your time and your wisdom and the work that you're doing to help all of us to feel safe and purposeful. Thank you so much for being here.

Aimie Apigian [00:32:45]: Well, thank you for what you do, Penny.

Penny Williams [00:32:47]: Thank you. With that, I'll see everybody on the next episode. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at ParentingADHDandAutism.com and thebehaviorrevolution.com.

Thank you!

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I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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