relaxation tips for parents of children with special needs

Why Do You Need Relaxation Tips?

Having a child with a disability can be isolating and frustrating. We want you to know that it’s natural to feel stressed. That goes for every parent. You are not a bad parent for needing some private time or having an activity for yourself.

In fact, decreasing your stress can be great for everyone around you. You may have heard the saying, “If Mama Bear ain’t happy, no one is happy.” Moods are contagious. for good or bad. Don’t let your bad mood affect everyone in your household.

Another reason you should try to squeeze in some You Time is the long-term effects of stress.  Your children want you in their lives as long as possible, but stress is bad for the body. We could write a blog on the effects of stress alone, but, luckily, the American Psychological Associaition has compiled a detailed list.

Let’s get to the good stuff. Note: not everything will work for everyone. If something isn’t working out for you after a couple weeks, do yourself a favor and try something else.

#1. Avoid Alcohol and Non-Prescribed Drugs

Do Not Cheat Yourself

Let’s get this out of the way early. These habits may not only inhibit personal happiness but could also cause extreme issues with you and your family.

Alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs – sure, these items may relieve your stress for a short while, but their long-term effects heavily outweigh the short-term ones.

If you are a highly stressed parent who is turning to the “short-cuts” for relaxation, you are walking a tight-rope, and if you fall you’ll be landing in substance dependence. We highly suggest you seek relaxation in other ways, like the ones listed below.

Seek Help

If you believe that the only thing that is making your life tolerable is substances, like alcohol or illegal drugs, GET HELP NOW! Call the drug abuse hotline at 1-877-457-5288. They have specialists available 24/7, and it’s completely free to you. If you can’t do it for you, do it for your loved ones. Give them a better life by getting help.

#2. Work that Body

relaxation tips for parents of children with special needs
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Working Out: The Most Versatile Stress Reliever

Exercising is the cheapest stress reliever out there. You don’t need to gym membership, fancy work out clothes or some expensive gadget to tell you that your heart is beating extra fast. Some ear phones and music player go a long way on their own.

You can do it anywhere. As long as you have your body moving, you’re doing some good. You can go for a run or even a walk around your neighborhood. You can dance around your house. Get a workout from a professional trainer free on YouTube.

You can fit exercise into any schedule. You can do it by yourself or with your friends and family.

We’re not suggesting that you become a body builder or sign up for a tri-athalon, but thirty minutes a day of body activity will do wonders lower cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase endorphins, which make you feel great.

The Benefits of Exercise Are Amazing

The greatest perk of exercise in terms of stress relief is that it relieves stress both in the moment and in the long term. It might be a struggle to initially get into the habit of exercise, but after about two weeks, your body will begin to crave it.

What’s more is that exercising improves your confidence. It will give you more energy and strength to perform as a parent. It will promote other healthy habits. It will even improve your bedroom activities, which also, let’s be honest here, also relieves stress.

#3. Daily Reflection

relaxation tips for parents of children with special needs
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Meditate

Don’t think of humming while sitting with your legs crossed (unless that works for you). Some people do yoga or tai-chi. Some people take a long bath. What’s most important about meditating is the act of doing nothing – and not mindlessly in front of the television.

As a busy parent, it may seem counter-intuitive to do less to feel better about your day. If you’re constantly doing and going, you’re not taking in the experiences or getting to know yourself better.

There are many different types of meditation, but they all share a few steps:

  1. Find an environment of nothingness. We’re talking a safe, quiet place, possibly with soothing noises (beach sounds, the sound of rain, etc.).
  2. Set an alarm. You will lose track of your time, and there is a chance you may even fall asleep or feel the urge to quit before it’s time. The time you set aside is up to you. You may have legends of people meditating for days, but you could do as little as five minutes to see a benefit. We suggest thirty, if you can find the time.
  3. Clear your mind. Forget your stressors and your responsibilities. This time is all about you. This may be hard for beginners, but just remember to relax. Relax the body. Only focus on your breath.
  4. Take it in. Our thoughts are constantly chattering. The goal isn’t take make them shut up, but to acknowledge them as they come and let them go. The practice of meditation is meant to build awareness. If you continue to meditate, then you’ll be able to gently take note of things as they happen to you and let them go.

After a while you will hear your alarm go off, and you’re done.

Journal

You can call it a diary, your notebook, or Kenneth – it doesn’t matter. It’s yours. What’s important is that you’re thinking over what is going on in your life. What is especially great about writing in a journal is that it’s like having a personal psychologist. It’s someone you can confide your deepest secrets to, even if it’s only paper.

You may learn more about yourself this way than through other reflection activities. Your hands have a way of getting carried away when writing. You start by writing what’s on your mind, then you write what’s in your mind.

For example, you begin your journal with how you’re upset with a friend because they baked some treats for a party when you were supposed to bake them, but then, as you continue writing and writing, you find out that you’re not upset with your friend at all, but that you really feel inadequate with your own cooking abilities.

This practice is referred to as brain-dumping.

Another perk about journaling is that if you continue doing it, you can look back and reflect on where you were a month ago or even a few years ago. It can be pleasant to see that you have grown. You might even find solace with your past self. And who knows, you may be able to sell your diary to a publisher. Journaling is the gift that keeps on giving.

If you are worried about someone reading your journal, you can literally burn the evidence. You won’t be able to look back, but you’ll be able to get what you need off your chest.

Think

If you don’t have the time to journal or meditate, we suggest just taking five minutes and thinking about your day. You could do it before bed. You will be surprised by how simple some of the stressors in your life are when you take an in-depth look at them.

Having this private time with yourself will help you de-stress. It can even help you understand how to prevent stress in the future.

#4. Start a Relaxing Hobby

relaxation tips for parents of children with special needs
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A Little Something for Yourself

A hobby is something you can share or keep to yourself. Don’t feel guilty about having an activity for yourself. It could be your excuse to get away for a little bit. What’s most important is that you are enjoying yourself and getting your mind off of the stresses in your life.

Some activities can be very costly, depending on what you are getting into. We suggest taking a class before you commit to a long-term hobby. Just because you think you will enjoy something, doesn’t mean you will continue to enjoy it after a month or so. Test the waters before you invest some serious cash into it.

No hobby is too silly. If you enjoy it, it’s worth doing.

Use Those Hands

Doing an activity with your hands can make you more confident and even make/save some money. Gardening is a great example. You can grow your fruits or vegetables, which are a lot tastier when you’ve grown them yourself. You can become a craftsman, build your own furniture and become your own handyman.

Express yourself through art. Don’t let people tell you that you need to be formally trained. Anyone can write poetry, paint or draw. Of course, if you are expecting a certain result, you will probably need the class. You may even be able to sell some of your work for a profit.

If the activity is safe for your child, he or she may be able to get some benefit as a stress reliever and fun self-expression. There are some arts and crafts that you can do with your child we wrote about here and crafts for children with Autism here.

One hobby that could really save you some cash is couponing. Remember to correlate your coupons with the sales, and you could save hundreds.

Get Out There

Start an activity that helps you get out of the house and have some fun. If there’s something that interests, you go for it.

Fishing, bird-watching and hiking are a great way to get in touch with nature and forget the worries of your job and other responsibilities. You never know what you will find out there. Remember to be safe and do your research before trying something new or going somewhere new.

The city offers concerts, museums and several activities you can enjoy, but some activities may little harder to find. For example, ghost-hunting or urban exploration are examples of more niche hobbies that might appeal to you.

Start Collecting

Starting a collection is a great activity that is on-going. Whether it be coins, figurines or PEZ dispensers, you never know when you will come into contact with one, so you’re always on the “hunt”. It’s something fun that is constant.

You will be surprised at how much time you enjoyably lose yourself in while organizing and caring for your collection. Having a scheduled search time even furthers the fun. Pencil in a day to visit pawn shops or garage sales with your child with special needs.

#5. Socialize

relaxation tips for parents of children with special needs
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Don’t Forget Your Friends

It can be easy to put your friends on hold when you’re focusing all your energy caring for your child with special needs. If you keeping canceling plans with your friends, you may find yourself without them. So, please remember to set aside time for those closest to you. You will be glad that you hired a sitter after you come home feeling reconnected and refreshed after a night out with friends.

It could be a good idea to seek out new friends who have children with special needs, so you have someone in your life who can better understand the struggles you are dealing with. This could also be a great opportunity for coupled family outings where your child can also make new friends.

Talk about Being a Parent of a Child with Special Needs

Confide in others the struggles that you are dealing with. Venting or getting things off your chest will make you feel like a weight has been lifted. Understand that having a hard time with raising your child with special needs does not make you a bad parent. You’re only human, and people will understand.

There are support groups for parents of children with special needs, and they can be a great way to share stories, get parenting tips and make new friends.

Donate Today

We’ve told you how to relieve your stress in your life. Help relieve some of ours with a donation. Even if you can only donate $10, that would pay for a dance class session for a student who can’t afford it. $10 is the cost of a beverage and a scone at Starbucks. Do us favor and make a coffee at home instead.

Register as a Volunteer

Sleep easier at night by doing good during the day. If you are local in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can register as a volunteer at Achievement Center of Texas. We are eager for more help and are willing to accommodate­­­­­ your schedule.

If you are especially eager to help with a certain part of the Achievement Center of Texas, we will accommodate that too. For more information click the button below.

About the Author

Charlie Haskell is a student at UNT. He’s a huge DC comics reader and has a guilty pleasure of campy film. He is volunteering as a blogger because he saw the opportunity to help those that couldn’t help themselves. You can find more information about Charlie at his website www.beardedjustis.com.

5 Relaxation Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs

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