December 29, 2010

Guest Post: Managing Stress in the New Year

Christmas is over, and unless you are trying to travel to or from the blizzardy East Coast, the stress of the holidays has mostly passed. We're just a few days short of New Year's, and that means a return to our regular routines, including school, work, and the day to day business of running our lives. If you have a special needs child, the added stress of the holidays may be on its way out, but by no means will stress be absent from our lives.

Suzy, editor of SureBaby, a site for Moms and Moms-to-Be, has written the following tips for managing stress. These tips are good for all parents, but as parents of children with special needs, we need to reming ourselves to pay special attention to managing our stress levels. I know I won't be able to live a stress-free life ever any time soon, but I have seen how the stress of having a child with autism has begun affecting me not just emotionally but physically as well.

Parenting Tips for Managing Stress
How to relax when you have a child with special needs

Caring for children with special needs requires a lot of attention and energy. As a parent, you do your best to be always patient and loving, but caring for a special needs child can be time-consuming and stressful. In order to provide the best child health care you can, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Follow these parenting tips to manage your stress level and be as strong as you can.

Take a Break
When was the last time you did something for yourself? In order to manage your stress, you need to have "me" time. If you're constantly focusing on someone else, you're going to become physically and mentally drained. Take small breaks at first to ease yourself into the habit.

Small breaks during the day are good, but you also need to make time to relax for longer periods. Ask someone you trust, like a family member, to take care of your child while you go shopping or to a movie with your partner. If your child requires a lot of treatment and care, there are services available that can take over while you get the relaxation you need. Make sure you do something you enjoy. Some people need to get out of the house in order to let go, while others prefer to read.

Accept Your Limits
As a parent of a child with special needs, you always want to do more. Sometimes you may think you don't do enough, or feel like everything needs to get done in one day. However, you can only do so much, so try to cut yourself some slack. At the end of the day, don't think of all the things you didn't do. Give yourself permission to wind down and think of the things you did accomplish. Thinking positively will help you have a positive outlook for tomorrow.

Even if you can only fit in a 20-minute walk, exercise allows you to clear your mind and produces endorphins, which makes you feel happy. Exercise will not only keep you in better physical shape, it can also calm your nerves and relax you mentally.

Get Support
Support can come in many forms: friends, family, support groups, doctors. Being around others who understand your circumstances can help reduce your stress; knowing others have the same struggles that you do and learning how they deal with them can be comforting. But there are also benefits to leaning on those you love and trust. Feeling a connection with those you care about and having adult-to-adult conversations will help manage your stress.

Remember, your child isn't the only one affected by their special needs. Don't forget that you are entitled to, and require, a separate life (even if it's for only 20 minutes at a time). Make the time and effort to reduce your stress, and you'll be a better parent, spouse and friend.

What do you think of these tips? How do you manage stress?
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1 comment:

I love comments! Respectful disagreement always encouraged.


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