Nowadays, anxiety and stress are par-for-the course for parents having a child with issues. Research shows that anxiety and stress have a way of 'jamming the signals' of parents and result in not being able to accomplish their goals as (perceived good) parents.
Parenting a child that has special needs is a massive responsibility requiring even more multi-tasking than the hectic lives of parents. So, bring on the calm and try these five effective practices for parents of children with special needs that will fit into even in the most chaotic schedules:
- Create or join a support group for like-minded parents
Parents having a kid with issues can be very isolating. Some stress-relievers are as effective as receiving support from an individual who knows exactly what you are going through or even just hearing other people share their story. A support group can meet at the local hall, online or in someone’s home, and if there are no organisations in your area, begin it yourself! It is empowering to initiate the move and at the same time, you are helping others in the process.
- Try meditation or yoga
Being conscious of slowing down your breath can make you calmer, healthier and more capable of seeing things clearly. The additional benefit is that it will also give you more physical energy and get fit which likewise help overcome stress.
- Have a break
Be determined to pause, if only for a few seconds, before reacting to a stressful situation. Pause, take a deep breath. It can help you avoid acting carelessly and saying or doing things you will regret in the end. Instead, a break can give you time to think of a more effective way or at least a more thoughtful response.
- Be grateful
Grateful people are likely to enjoy more vitality, positive emotions, optimism and have lower levels of stress and depression. Next time if you feel tense, remind yourself to appreciate the little things that are going well.
- Do what you love
It is a necessity and luxury for you. Go outside and be focused on only yourself once in a while and do things you enjoy. It may feel self-indulgent to get a massage, see a movie, sign up for a cake decorating class or take a guitar lesson, but nurturing and giving yourself a “me time” and the reserve of patience and emotional energy that your have for your family.
If parents do not take care of themselves, they will not be at their best. Only when they are functioning well spiritually, emotionally and physically can they address the often constant needs of their children especially those that needs special care.