The Harmful Effects of Stress and What You Can Do About It

Stress

It is a known fact parenting is stressful, but parenting a child with special needs that may or may not have siblings also, DEFINES stress! I see it every single day with the parents that come into the facility. You are managing doctors visits, therapy visits, school issues, fighting insurance companies, making sure they get their medicine on time, and three million other tasks you have that does not even include your laundry list of things to get done for yourself or the household. All of that could also be combined with having a full or part time job eating up a lot of time also. I’ve been told by many of you that your self-care is virtually non-existent and your daily life is just defined by what you are doing for your loved ones.

I have even heard the sentence “But I feel guilty taking any time for myself”. You spend endless hours caring for your child, making sure they have the best of EVERYTHING and are getting everything in the world that they deserve, and then you even feel guilty for a second that is not devoted to caring or advocating for them.

You all make seriously busy people look like they are on vacation. It is a challenge in many aspects of life to find balance and with everything constantly changing, you are forced to follow it’s lead and try to keep up while keeping it all together. You’ve probably researched methods of reducing stress before and haven’t found time for that either. Truth is… stress will wear your body down over time.

Stress hormones circulating in your body constantly causes physiologic changes that can effect your overall health.

Chronic Stress can:

  • Raise your blood pressure
  • Increase your risk for heart attack or stroke
  • Increase your risk for Diabetes type II
  • Cause Heartburn or Acid Reflux
  • Cause digestive issues including: nausea and constipation
  • Cause Headaches or Body aches
  • Lower your immune system

These are just a FEW of the detrimental effects of chronic stress and are not to be taken lightly! Next will follow a few tips on things you can do to relieve stress. You may already be thinking, “Didn’t she just say she knows we have no time for self-care or ANYTHING and now we are supposed to try and incorporate more things into our day!?” If I were you, I would probably be thinking that too.

BUT…it’s important to note that if you ignore your health and are unable to balance or manage your stress, your loved ones that you are putting in constant and selfless effort into 24/7 will suffer too.

I put together just a few different methods that you may be willing to try to reduce your stress. These are simple and can be short in duration. If you don’t already do any of these, I encourage you to at least try ONE of them. It is at least worth the shot of attempting because spiraling down the stress tunnel will be never-ending and only result in other issues. So, here they are:

1. JOURNALING:

Ever thought of this one? Only requires a paper, pen, and 5-10 minutes of your time. Try picking a time where your day is LEAST hectic (do your best). It may be the morning for you or it could be when everyone is asleep at night and you are up with thoughts constantly circling your head. Writing is powerful. It allows you to recognize your thoughts and feelings but also to release those onto paper. I know for me personally, journaling helps me make better decisions and become more self-aware in what matters most.

2. MEDITATION:

Most of us have tried this and if you haven’t tried once, you’ve probably laughed at the idea of it. It is definitely challenging, but with repetition it actually gets easier. I use this website: http://www.positivityresonance.com/meditations.html. They take you through guided meditations and to be honest, I laughed the first few times…but then after MANY attempts at making it a habit it has finally sort-of stuck. Meditation can be hard, but it can definitely help reduce stress and slow your thoughts down.

3. EXERCISE:

Okay if you haven’t laughed at this article yet, you probably are now. I know it isn’t for everyone but if its something you WANT to do and haven’t gotten into yet, it is worth the try. This seems crazy, but exercise will actually INCREASE your energy levels even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. Not only does this help you keep up with your crazy lifestyle, it will help you sleep more soundly at night and you can be more well-rested.

4. ATTENDING A SUPPORT GROUP:

Yet again, you’re probably saying “when do I have time for this”. There are many local in-person groups and online groups. Research what is available to you, try it out. We have seen it at our own support group, sometimes even just sharing your story with others who have walked in your shoes is relief in itself. Other parents get it and will never judge you, and sometimes that can be the missing puzzle piece.

Lastly,

5. GRATITUDE:

This can be practiced daily in combination with any of these other things. You can write out a list of everything you are grateful for or you can even just spend a few minutes thinking of what you are grateful for. There are actually scientific studies based on these thought processes. Gratitude changes your mindset, your attitude, and can help you see what really matters in very stressful and hard times.

These are just a few of MANY things out there for you to try to reduce your stress. I challenge you to try at least ONE of them and let us know how it works for you. Remember, it is not only you that suffers when you are overwhelmed with stress; your loved ones can too so be sure to try and find that balance you are looking for. Hoping this helps you!

If you are interested in signing up for a local support group, we have one. We meet monthly and topics change month to month. If you would like to be added to our update list so you can see when our meetings are and what the topics are for the next meeting click the button below…

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Christine Astarita
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