As the parent of a child with autism and an anxious child, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. Everyone tells me that I need to take time to myself, but I wonder how. How can I decrease stress when I feel stress all around me? How do you do it? Well, I did some research and found the following tips for helping decrease stress when raising a child with a disability.
15 Ways to Decrease Stress
I’d like to begin with the disclaimer that I am not a certified therapist and that not all of these tips work for everyone. Also, this post contains affiliate links, which helps me raise money to keep bringing you great content, but I only provide links to things that I have found helpful in my life. While not all of these tips work for everyone, if you can find just one that works for you, it’s all worth it!
1. Go for a walk by yourself.
This one can be a bit tricky, but if you have a husband/wife that will support you, exercise can really help, especially if you don’t feel like you’re forcing someone else to go and fighting for it the whole way.
2. Adult Coloring Books
Remember how it felt to color as a child? You just focus on one thing,which tends to take your mind off of what stresses you out. I find the spending some time coloring helps decrease stress in my life. I like the ones with animal designs the best!
Get yourself a relaxing CD or find an app that teaches you to meditate. It only takes about 5 minutes and meditation helps lower your heart rate by focusing on your breathing. As someone who frequently has tachycardia, the benefits of meditation have become increasing important to me.
4. Reach Out to Others
Oftentimes, as mothers, we lose friends because we stop communicating with them. This becomes increasingly difficult when you have a child that needs more of your attention. However, staying in touch with friends, family, and support systems like churches can be helpful if you just reach out, even if it’s just to vent some.
5. Just Breathe
I know it sounds silly, but sometimes we hold our breath without even realizing it. Take a few minutes to focus on taking deep breaths.
6. Get Some Sleep
Whe you have a child that wakes you up at 4 in the morning, this can be difficult, but lack of sleep can make us lose our minds. I’ve found that using lavender in a diffuser not only helps me sleep better, but helps my son as well. If that doesn’t work, go back to number 4 and see if someone can provide you with enough respite to at least take a nap.
7. Avoid Junk Food – Eat a Healthy Diet
Believe it or not, just eating the right foods can make you feel so much better. I know that one weeks were we’ve gone out to eat more than we should, both my husband and I feel kind of gross. When we eat a healthy diet, it really helps us feel better. I try to control my diet with Weight Watchers, but that’s a personal decision.
8. Get Your Yoga On
Yoga combines exercise with meditation. It’s a great combination if you want to decrease stress. Boost your endorphins while controlling your breathing! If you’re not used to Yoga, this Yoga for Beginners DVD might be helpful. Even better, you can stream it on your TV for free if you have Amazon Prime!
9. Listen to Music
Weather you’re jamming out or listening to relaxing music, listening to music can help nourish our souls. Turn on the radio in your car and play it full blast, or live stream some music on Pandora. Personally, I like my 90s Alternative Radio on Pandora. Pandora paid me nothing for this review – I just happen to like them because it’s free, adjustable to my personalized interests, and I’ve used them for years.
10. Join a Church
Religious communities have been a source of comfort and support for hundreds of years. I have found that the people at my church are amazing as support systems and have taken in my children as if they are their own. I could not be more grateful for my church community. If you find that they do not understand autism, I created a presentation to help my church learn more about autism and I’m happy to share it with you here.
11. Get a Massage
God bless anyone who would pay for me to go get a massage. I’ve only had one done a couple times in my life, but spa days are fantastic. I had one place that banned cell phone use so I had to “unplug” from the world for a while. The right masseuse can apply the right amount of pressure to release the tension built up in my muscles from the stress.
Journaling can really help if you have thoughts you need to get out that you don’t want anyone else to know. There’s a great release from just putting it on paper and writing out your thoughts can also help you process your feelings. Some journals, like this one, even contain inspirational quotes and ideas for what to write.
13. Get a Hug
Hugging not only helps you connect with the person you’re hugging, but helps release those feel-good hormones that actually make you feel better. Sometimes, when my son is having a particularly hard day, I’ve found that hugging helps calm him.
14. Get a Pet
So, sometimes pets can create stress, but there is another component to having a pet, like a dog or a cat, in that petting them can make us feel better. There’s a reason why they have therapy dogs for people with PTSD and other disorders. There are undeniable therapeutic benefits to being in close proximity to pets.
Sometimes I feel like I’m fussing endlessly at my kids. When I take the time to play with them and just enjoy their playful nature, we all win. Take the time to play with your children–board games, hide-and-seek, and whatever game you can invent together.
What do you do to decrease stress in your life? Share in the comments!