One in 64 children is diagnosed with autism. Coping with the diagnosis and everyday challenges can be stressful for parents. In honor of Stress Awareness Month and Autism Awareness Month, consider effective ways to reduce stress in April and throughout the year.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Your child may only eat a few foods, but you should eat a balanced diet. Whole, real foods fuel your body, balance your hormones and reduce the effects of stress. If your health insurance covers dietitian services, schedule a helpful consultation.
After running around all day, you may not feel like exercising, but regular movement releases endorphins that clear your brain, calm your body and lower your stress. Try running on the treadmill, dancing to music or doing other doctor-approved exercises as you relax.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
A good night’s sleep equips you to handle each day’s challenges. To achieve good sleep hygiene:
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
If you’re worried about your child waking up or eloping as you sleep, install a baby monitor or bedroom door alarm.
Go to your Happy Place
When you start to feel overwhelmed, close your eyes, think about your favorite place in the world, and feel the sand between your toes or the sun on your face. This guided imagery technique will instantly lower your blood pressure and your stress.
A few deep breaths help you slow down, take time to think and calm your body. Breathe in through your nose, hold it and exhale from your mouth whenever necessary.
Juggling doctor appointments and all your parenting and personal duties requires organization. Find an app, calendar or other tool that helps you track and stick to your daily schedule. Getting organized keeps both you and your child calm.
Engage in Self-Care
Every day, drink a cup of hot tea, read a magazine or call a friend. See your doctor for regular physicals, too. Even a five-minute break can remind you of your value and help you feel centered.
Ask for Help
You may not trust many people to care for your child, but try to find one or two trusted family members, friends or professional respite workers who can give you a break. You could also hire someone to clean the house, run errands and ease your burden.
Connect with Other Parents
Find an in-person or online support group and chat with other autism parents. Then share helpful resources, tools and encouragement as you manage everyday life.
Manage stress as you parent your child with autism in these ways. They help you cope successfully with everyday life.