- Posted by Caravel Autism Health
- On July 30, 2018
- 0 Comments
Caravel’s autism health specialists work every day in the homes of families living with autism. They know firsthand how much is required of these parents – who need to bring more than the average amount of strength, perseverance and resourcefulness – day after day.
“The challenge can be daunting,” according to Nan Huai, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, BCBA-D, of Caravel Autism Health. “Many parents want to invest every possible minute into helping their child. But if you’re emotionally and physically exhausted,” says Dr. Huai, “it likely will make the challenge even greater.”
Dr. Huai says that self-care for parents is crucial to the wellbeing of the entire family. “The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be able to care for your child and increase your family’s overall quality of life,” according to Dr. Huai. Here are five ways to practice self-care that will have a positive impact on your entire family.
Make a habit of scheduling “me time”
The demands of parenting can seem never-ending, especially for those who kids need extra attention and support. It is a journey. You will need some rest along the way so that you can go on the next leg with more energy and strength. By carving out a small amount of time for yourself every day, you will get much deserved and needed rest for your journey.
This “me time” doesn’t have to be one big block. It can be broken up into smaller pieces. Take the scenic route and enjoy the view when you can spare a few extra minutes. Keep a routine of “me time” such as taking a walk or doing other exercise every day. Treat yourself to your favorite beverage. Settle into a comfy chair and do a few minutes of reading once your kids are in bed. Allow yourself to disconnect from your care-taking routine so that you can rest and recharge.
Move your body
It’s hard to beat exercise as a mood-booster. Keep that in mind anytime you try to convince yourself that there’s no time for it in your schedule. Take a brisk walk, even if it’s just around the block. Spend five minutes stretching. Turn up the music when you can and dance while you cook or do housework.
Explore meditation or yoga
Many find that yoga and meditation help decrease stress. At the same time, these practices can help you cultivate mindfulness and tap into your own personal strength and sense of power. The quiet reflection associated with brief meditation breaks can also boost your immune system and improve your focus. In addition to local classes, there are lots of videos and apps that can help you explore these disciplines.
Tap into the kindness of your village
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but when you’re a parent with a special needs child, others in your village don’t necessarily know how to help you. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Dr. Huai. “Most people are surrounded by people who are willing to step up. Help them help you by getting specific,” she explains. “Ask your neighbor if she’d be willing to pick up a few things for you at the grocery store. If your friend loves to cook, ask if he’d mind making you a dish that you can freeze. If you’ve got a few errands that need running, put the request out there to people who live nearby.”
Find community support
Connecting with other parents who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes is invaluable. They can provide peer support, group therapy, counseling, stress management and opportunities to share stories and resources. Search online for groups near you or reach out to Autism Speaks, which created the Autism Response Team (ART) in 2007. ART is specially trained to connect people with autism, their families and caregivers to information, tools, and local resources. For more information, call ART at 888-288-4762 (en español 888-772-9050) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.