If you are the parent or guardian of a child with disabilities, you know the joy that can come in raising him or her. Reaching milestones you thought were impossible. Watching them accomplish tasks others said they would never be able to do and seeing the love and joy that you bring one another.
You also know the stress that can be present.
Parents raising children with disabilities sometimes feel isolated. They may feel as though they are going through this journey alone, with no support. To provide care, they often neglect their own needs. Time to themselves is a foreign concept.
As a caregiver, it is imperative to address the stress, to find peace. It is crucial for your overall health and for those that depend on you.
How can you find peace when it seems challenging to do so? Here are some ideas.
Join a Support Group
Finding a support group can be overwhelming. An invaluable first step is to become familiar with the types of groups out there. What would you like to obtain by joining a support group? Do you want to meet in person or virtually? Doing research upfront allows you to pick what fits your needs, making it more meaningful for you.
Deciding to go to a local group can bring on additional, overwhelming questions. Are there any around me? Do they address my specific wants or needs? What is the best one to join?
Look to the sources you have, such as your child’s doctor, counselor, or teachers. They are often a great resource to help you begin your search locally.
Listen to a Podcast
A support group may not be a fit for you; however, you still want to hear from someone else on a similar journey. Enter the podcast.
A podcast is a great tool to turn to and is available whenever you are. Turn one on while driving, exercising, or cleaning. There are many to choose from, offering support, ideas, and encouragement.
The website Embracing Life has a list of some of their favorite podcasts to get you started.
Engage in Exercise
There are many benefits to being active. Studies show regular exercise improves your mental health and mood. It also sharpens the function of your brain and has a positive impact on your sleep. These are all important as a caregiver.
The arrival of spring provides the perfect opportunity to take a walk. A great exercise to help with stress relief. Other ideas can be found here and include things like Yoga and Pilates.
Caregivers often consider self-care to be selfish. It’s not! It is a necessity.
To be there for those that depend on you, you need to take time to care for yourself. Self-care comes in many forms and is truly unique to each person. Penny Williams with Parenting Kids with ADHD and Autism has provided some great ideas to get you started.
You may want to consider a respite weekend. A respite weekend provides caregivers and those they care for the opportunity to take a break from their everyday lives. These weekends allow caregivers to recharge and rest. Echoing Hills provides respite weekends throughout the year in a safe, Christian environment. Learn more here.
Find a Support Person
The person you rely on will be unique to you. For some, this is a family member such as a mom, sister, or cousin. For others, it is a friend or someone else that is on the same journey as themselves.
No matter who it is for you, what’s important is to find the person there for you. The one you can talk to about anything. Someone willing to step in and help, especially when you need a break.
In those stressful situations, remember to take a breath, pray and try one (or more) of the strategies above. Recovering your inner peace will bring joy to you and those you love.