How do we handle stress? Or does stress handle us?
Sometimes I feel like pressure controls me. When my heart starts to race, my hand begins to open and close, and my legs rock. I seem to twitch or kick my legs when I am stressed. It is like putting a child on your ankle and rocking him up and down for a pony ride. I seem to forget all my training and simple let it build up in me.
I know the things to do, and I teach my clients what to do when stressed. Somehow they leave my head when I am in the middle of my grandson’s meltdown or tantrum. I let it bother me when my grown children begin to fight. It is merely foreign to me when I am under attack or emotionally drained.
I find myself thinking after, “man, I should have done this…” I add more stress and blame myself for not using my skills. I have noticed this happens when I forget to take ‘me’ time. Self-care is so important; however, it is essential for the caretaker of a special needs child.
Some of the things I enjoy are simple and inexpensive. I go to the library- ours has a coffee bar, comfy chairs, and fireplace to help with relaxing and rewinding. When I need a reset, this is my go-to. I can even take my grandson, who loves to look at books, read, play video games, and make crafts. I understand that not everyone has this type of library, so that may not be a good option, but it may help get a good book, a cup of tea or coffee, and just get lost in someone or something else for a few hours.
I enjoy walks- our park has a nice walking trail. I can take my grandson, who will ride his bike and get his O.T. large motor exercises. We also take the time to do a few other activities ( some wear him out) like balance, stretching, jumping, and swinging.
At home, I do some deep breathing. I like to have my grandson practice his deep breathing with me. It helps stop meltdowns before they happen. We also practice grounding: an easy one to remember is the 5,4,3,2,1, which equals ( 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste). These exercises help both of us regroup or reset, if you will.
For alone time, I take a soaking bath or time out. This time out is for me to get a grip- remember my skills, use positive self-talk, and remember I am the grown-up. Remembering who I am and my goal helps rewind the clock and give me a new perspective.
Taking time for myself- sometimes looks like a new haircut, manicure, dinner out, or long drive. I love long car rides.
Remembering to take time can be challenging. However, if you think of the outcome for not taking that few minutes a day or week, it is essential for your child as much as it is for you.
I was in the hospital for a few days due to stress. Told I had a heart attack; however, after many. I found out it was stress. A life change was needed. This new was harder to adapt to than to hear. I began to look for ways I could change my lifestyle and still care for my grandson. It wasn’t easy, but it was needed.
I had to take a long hard look at myself, what I wanted, and what was important to me. The change was good. It took a while to get to a place where I was finally comfortable finally, and my grandson was thriving.
Stress is an enemy and a killer. Figure out how it is affecting you and what you can do to change that. Journal daily or jot down when your stress is high. What caused it, what could change, and how bad did it get?
I have listed a few things I do, but here are a few more:
mindfulness: refocus, reframing your thoughts, thought stopping
exercise- i enjoy walking or riding a bike
Yoga or Tai Chi
journaling- writing or drawing
art: adult coloring
muscle relaxation -In progressive muscle relaxation, you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. You work on your muscle groups in a specific order. (https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2225)