A huge problem today is that parents of children with autism are under an immense amount of stress, and there really aren’t a lot of practical tools out there that assist them. Most of the information you find is about direct support for your child, for their education, for ways of improving their behaviors. And that is absolutely essential, and very helpful to you. But what about you, the parent? Please read more about us on Huntington’s disease.
Do you ever feel on the edge of panic, like you’re about to lose your mind? Are you overwhelmed by the immensity of your responsibility for your child, all the things you need to do every day, all the decisions you need to make? You never expected your life would be like this. You had an idea that parenting would challenge you but with your child with autism, it sometimes feels like you’re completely stuck and paralyzed with fear, on the verge of a breakdown.
Something I’ve learned parenting my son with autism, who is now 21, is that these breakdowns that feel so hopeless and overwhelming can actually be leading you into a breakthrough that carries you to the next level of strength and confidence.
Here are three strategies for shifting out of fear and back into your strong, calm, and confident self:
The easiest place to start is getting connected with your breath. When we get stressed or overwhelmed we often hold our breath, or breathe shallowly. This only contributes to our feeling tense and anxious. Breathing slowly and deeply is a natural way to trigger your relaxation response, and you begin to feel better right away. So take a moment right now, where ever you are, and take a deep breath, inhaling to a count of five, then exhaling to a count of five. It can help to breath in through your nose, then out through your mouth, pursuing your lips like you’re blowing out a candle. Do this at least three times, and feel your tension melt away. And the more you can relax, the more you can handle.
- Be Present in the Moment.
Bring your attention to the present moment. Often what happens when you go into overwhelm or fear is you’re putting your attention on what’s happened in the past, or you’re thinking about the future. Bring your attention back to the present moment. Get really clear about what’s really going on, right here, right now. Life is lived in this moment, right now, so keep your attention on the here and now as often as you can, and you’ll be more available to your child, and you’ll be able to catch those amazing moments of joy that you might otherwise miss.
- Shift Your Thinking.
A third strategy to relieve your stress and overwhelm is to consider how you are thinking about things. Shift your mindset away from those helpless, hopeless thoughts that keep you feeling like a victim. This alone will free you to find that place of strength and confidence within you. I’m inviting you to make a conscious choice to shift the way you think about your child, and about yourself. You get to decide how you think and feel. It really is a choice. Often when you’re in the state of fear and overwhelm, you think it’s happening to you, you feel like you don’t have any control over your situation. But you actually have complete control over how you choose to think about yourself and your child. shift from the fear and the worry that comes with thinking of them as a victim, and begin to cultivate a more positive way of thinking. Shift your thoughts and open up to the possibilities for you and your child to thrive.