What do lack of sleep, frustration, boredom, thirst, and hunger all have in common?
Have you ever been so frustrated that you felt like you couldn’t think? It has happened to all of us. When our brains are under threat, we do things we wouldn’t normally do. I know some excellent humans that get behind the week and, when frustrated, turn into entirely different person — honking and carrying on. One of these humans is my very own mother. She is one of those people that always thinks of other people before herself, but if you get in her lane after an already frustrating drive, she turns into a horn-honking maniac.
For those of you that have done baby duty or, for me, puppy duty, you know about the lack of sleep. After those sleepless nights, did you feel forgetful or like you couldn’t think? There is even a term for this — baby brain. The fogginess is due to the lack of sleep.
Finally, we have all been there: just plain bored. It reminds me of visits with my grandad. This doesn’t sound good, but I promise I had heard the stories many times over, but he would still call me out in a true granddaddy fashion. “Lauren, are you still with me?” I wasn’t, but of course, I would say yes.
There is a science behind what is going on in our brains in each of these examples. The oldest part of our brain is taking over for survival. Our amygdala is in charge, which is helpful if escaping a lion, but if driving, taking care of an infant, or listening to grandaddy, we need the thinking part of our brains. Our human brains see threats as frustration (I get this one, the driver), basic needs unmet (sleepy parent), or boredom (this one surprises me; I am in threat mode listening to grandaddy’s repeated stories)?
When our brains are in this threatened state, our amygdala takes over and sends us into flight, freeze, or flight mode. We can’t access the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of our brains) in this state. Therefore, the sleepless parent can’t find their keys, my mom honks, and I can’t listen to my grandad!
In the attachment, try to track some stressors you have. Being able to recognize stressors in ourselves will help our students recognize it in themselves. In our next post, we will drive into what this looks like in our students and then how to combat these stressors in ourselves and our students.