I do some of my best thinking at about 1:00 – 2:00 AM because that is when the whole world is quiet for me. There are no other things that need my immediate attention and any loud house work would just wake up my family.
Most nights, this looks a lot like research into new therapy options for one of my kids, some nights it looks like quietly reading a book, other nights it looks like a nice long relaxing bath, and then there are nights like tonight, where I finally take the time to figure out how to use the web version of word press, rather than the app version of it. You see, I have never, EVER, used the web version of this program. I’ve always used the app version on my phone or tablet. I have large fingers and that’s not exactly easy.
However, when the world is quiet isn’t always when I accomplish things. When the world is quiet, I have a lot more time to think. Typically, when the world is quiet I lay in bed and think about all of the things in my life that are bothering me and come up with solutions to them. Or not. Sometimes they just swirl inside of my head and continue to bother me. Not very often, though. Most times I am able to work things out and move on. When I can’t work things out and move on, I turn my phone on to a song called “weightless” by Marconi Union. It is a stress reducing song that helps relax your mind. However, for some people, their time is constantly spent with thoughts and questions unable to be answered or figured out swirling around inside their heads when the world is quiet for them. Studies have shown that parents of special needs kids have higher stress, anxiety and insomnia levels when compared to parents of children with typical needs or people who do not have children. I’ve mentioned it in the past, but there are studies now that show that a parent of a special needs child has stress levels on par with or exceeding that of a combat soldier. Special needs parents don’t sleep very much. They worry all the time. I’ve never met a special needs parent who isn’t worried. Some are newer to being diagnosed and are worried about what others think of them. Some worry about the “looks” that they get out in public. Some worry about if they are doing everything properly for their child for therapy. Some worry about school. Aides. Bus drivers. Teachers. Friends. Activities. Outbursts. Will their child be liked or accepted? There are more worries in a day than I have room on this page to blog about…There was another similarity noted in the study I looked at. Combat soldiers often suffer from undiagnosed PTSD. So do parents of special needs children. That is why support systems are SO important.
Sometimes people tend to forget that others are there for them. Others have walked their path before. There are other people out there who have been where you are and would love to help you. Reach out.
There are very effective ways to manage stress even at home when you’re crazy busy and have a million things on the go. I will be having a series of stress management blog posts with various ideas on how to cut down or manage stress more effectively. For now though, I will reiterate what I’m positive you’ve heard a million times. Sleep more. Eat well. Drink enough water. Drink less caffeinated drinks. Exercise… that’s a big one. Did you know that exercise is THE BEST anti-depressant that there is? It is more effective than any medication available. Stress and depression are very closely related, and so it stands to reason that exercise would be the top way to eliminate or significantly reduce stress levels. So, next time you’re feeling stressed, why not try popping in an exercise video? It could even be something like yoga that the kids could possibly try out with you. Another really fantastic one that almost everyone can do is breathing exercises. Count to 10, breathing in on counts 1-5 and out on counts 6-10, making sure to exhale completely. Wait about 2 seconds then start again. If you do this a few times you will be amazed how drastically it can reduce stress or anxiety.
I would like to take this time to mention that, just like there are support systems in place for soldiers who suffer from PTSD, there are also support systems in place for parents who suffer from stress related issues. I have mentioned time and time again the importance of taking some time for yourself. If all you can do is find a support system like a parents group or a trusted friend, and sit down for a video chat over coffee after the kids go to bed, then that’s better than keeping to yourself. If you qualify for respite services through the government, you should really consider taking advantage of them. If you don’t qualify for them, you should consider setting up a time even once a month with someone you trust to watch your child or children so that you can go out and have a bit of a relaxing time. Go for a massage. Go for a walk. Go for coffee with a friend. Go to the park and just sit there and relax… just do something. Even if it is only for 30 minutes. You will feel so much better once you have taken that breather and you will be able to be a better parent because of it. You can’t pour from an empty jug. You can’t be an effective parent when you’re running on next to no sleep for longer than you care to admit and you’re fueled by massive amounts of coffee. It doesn’t work, and if it does work, it won’t work for long. Pick up the phone and call someone. Send a text. Reach out. Or, on the flip side, if you haven’t heard from someone you care about in awhile, reach out to them. Maybe they need someone and are afraid to reach out.
Until next time…
Take Care Of Yourselves. ~C