3 Steps to Staying Healthy when Parenting a Child with Autism
Parents of children on the autism spectrum are under huge stress and pressure. What often happens is that moms and dads forget to take care of themselves. Most of us are familiar with the safely announcement on planes about the oxygen mask, also known as the oxygen mask theory. If cabin pressurization drops, compartments containing the oxygen masks will open automatically. Passengers are asked to help themselves first, before helping others. For moms and dads this means putting on your own mask, before helping your kids.
Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy.
Step #1 Check in with you
Be aware of how you are feeling, what you are saying and how you are interacting with your child on the autism spectrum when they are having a challenging time. Remaining calm and supportive will help you better understand your child with autism, deal with their emotions and handle their frustration.
Step #2 Fill up
Raising a child with autism requires infinite patience. If you recognize that you are running on empty, do what is necessary to fill up. This means knowing yourself well and taking the time necessary in order to replenish. Is it yoga, music, a game of golf, or a good book that is therapeutic for you? If you don't know, find out. Invest in you and discover what works and helps you go from running on empty to running on full.
Step #3 Put yourself first
The three parts to to wellness are nutrition, sleep and exercise. They work best when they work together. We all feel better when we make healthy food choices, have a good night's sleep and are physically active, and yet, they are the first things to go when we are under stress. Prioritizing these will enable us to be the best that we can be when with our families, our children, our coworkers and within our community.