Are You Feeling Stressed???
Based upon the results, the mothers of children with autism “reported higher levels of stress both related to parenting and in their daily lives” compared to the parents of children with developmental delays. “What surprised Dr. Estes was that the children’s problematic behaviors, such as irritability, crying, agitation and inappropriate speech were the most stressful for the mother, rather than the daily caring tasks which mothers were able to cope with.” ( Source: www.apa.org)
Although this is only one study (and a small one at that), it does validate the stress you may be feeling as a parent of a child with autism. And although the study focuses only on the stress levels of Moms, we must not forget the stress and worry Dads feel, especially if they share in the role of primary caregiver. If you have a lot of stress in your life, check out the following tips:
7 Easy Tips for Avoiding Stress and Living a Balanced Life
1. Avoid negative people and negative attitudes. Although going to some of the Social Media sites (i.e., Facebook) can serve as a nice break in your day, beware of the frequent complaints and negative comments that are often present. Many people use Social Media to vent or complain about their lives. This can also be true for some radio and television shows. Being in these negative environments won’t reduce your level of stress.
2. Keep an open, positive mind. Look for inspiration. Collect positive quotes, scriptures, cartoons, etc. and use them as visual cues to inspire you (“Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.” ~by George Santayana) or to remind yourself that “This too shall pass”.
3. Remember it’s important to take care of yourself, so you have something left to give to others. As parents, we are needed 24/7. In order to have enough energy, understanding and patience for tomorrow, we must renew the body, mind and spirit today.
4. Do something you enjoy everyday for at least 30 minutes. Think about the things you enjoy doing that really light you up! What did you love to do before you became so busy? Are there new experiences you would like to try (i.e., learn to play the guitar, Zumba, yoga, etc.) Our local public library has a great selection of "how-to" videos, perfect for trying something new.
5. Spend time in nature. Taking a walk, hiking, or gardening helps me to be present, and therefore, feel more relaxed. Hopefully, spring will be here soon, so those of us living in Michigan will be able to enjoy the outdoors again!
6. Try meditation. Meditation is a great tool for reducing stress! If you have tried it before without success, keep trying. You may need to try a different kind of meditation or a different instructor. I have found Deepak Chopra’s meditation resources very helpful. Dr. Chopra suggests a Sanskrit mantra to use to keep the mind focused on the breath vs. chasing our wandering thoughts. If you would like more information about meditation or would like to try it, click here.
7. Live in gratitude. By focusing on all the wonderful blessings we already have in our lives (both big and small), we change the way we think and the way we feel. Suddenly, we feel lighter and hopeful again. Some people find it helpful to keep a Gratitude Journal. When I'm driving and begin to feel stressed, I find if I mentally begin listing 20-25 things I am grateful for at that moment, I can lighten my mood. For example, 1) I'm grateful for the sunshine on this cold winter day warming me through my car window 2) I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with such great families 3) I'm grateful for the great morning I had laughing with my family, etc.
Copyright Pamela McClure 2014