Flourishing Families Resource Guide for Families with Special Needs 2019

Page 6

The How and Why of

Self-Care for Caregivers Many caregivers live with chronic stress—the kind


Anne Malinoski

that gnaws at mental and physical health. It can lead to Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Even burnout, fatigue and strained relationships. Parenting a short session can help reset your mind, body and perspective. a child with special needs can be all-consuming, but Rood recommends the Calm app, or guided meditations on caregivers who practice effective stress-management can YouTube. improve the whole family’s wellness. “I’ve worked in a Exercise hospital environment for 30 years,” says Lisa Thompson, RN. “It’s very clear that when a parent is agitated, the child Try to be active for at least 30 minutes every day and reduce is affected. When the parent is able to do self-care, this daily sedentary time. Take a relaxing walk near your home or reflects to the child.” try a brief yoga workout. YouTube has floor Those who haven’t practiced selfand chair exercise routines for newbies. care in a while (or ever) may not know Find something enjoyable and commit to how to begin a new routine. It’ll look a daily practice, even if you can only spare different than it did before kids. There five minutes at a time. could be feelings of worry or guilt to Ask for Support acknowledge, address and ultimately Caregivers need occasional alone time. set aside. Remember: self-care is vital Express Gratitude: Write Maybe your babysitter said she couldn’t for caregivers and their children. Here down what you’re grateful for come back. Maybe your child’s grandparent are some ideas to get started: or say it out loud. Anxiety often declined to help. Put those painful melts away when you’re feeling Mindfulness experiences behind you. There is someone genuinely thankful. Awareness is an excellent place to start. who can care for your child while you slip Breathe: Thompson says to When we practice mindfulness, we away. Ask fellow parents and your child’s begin simple breath work by notice our thoughts, and examine the care providers to help search for respite care asking, “Do I hold my breath? Is feelings we have in response to those that meets your family’s specific needs. there tension in the chest and thoughts. “You can become aware of Treat Yourself abdomen?” Gently breathe into the positive and negative responses those tight or stuck areas and Once you find a reliable caregiver, don’t you have to certain thoughts and release by exhaling. hesitate to slip away for a massage or experiences,” says Erica Rood of Inspire pedicure. Go to happy hour. Walk through Balance Life Coaching. “Mindfulness Rest: Step away for a an art gallery. If it makes you feel centered also supports you in being grounded quick break when you feel and relaxed, it’s worth the effort! v in the present moment, rather than overwhelmed. spiraling into thoughts about the Motivate: Post an inspirational Anne Malinoski is a contributing writer and future or past, which tend to trigger quote where you’ll see it often. mother of two boys. Her older brother has unhelpful and unnecessary worry, special needs. fear or anxiety.”

Easy Self-Care Steps to Take Right Now

6 • SNRFSD.org • SanDiegofamily.com • flourishing families 2019