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The minute you become a parent, your focus turns to take care of your new bundle of joy. And if your child gets diagnosed with autism, you might find it even more difficult to take time for yourself. However, a lack of self-care can create a downward spiral. You are likely to feel stressed out and overwhelmed when you are not caring for yourself, which makes it tougher to be an empathetic and patient parent. In turn, that can lead to increased anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and stress. So, it’s essential to set aside a little bit of time for self-therapy even when you feel like you don’t have a single second to devote to yourself. While there are many different self-therapy strategies for parents, it’s important to experiment with them to figure out which one works best for you.
Do you remember the airplane analogy in which they say you need to put your own oxygen mask on first otherwise you’ll be limited in how much you’re able to help others? One form of self-therapy for parents of children with autism is to prioritize yourself every once in a while. Sometimes, putting yourself first can be beneficial to both you and your child. So, do something life-giving for yourself. Even a quick 5-minute meditation can help you feel rejuvenated. You’ll be much better equipped to take care of your child afterwards.
Yes, just laugh. You deserve it! You probably know what’s most likely to make you smile. Whether it’s talking to an old friend or watching videos of cats and dogs on the internet or lists of text messages gone askew, carve out some time throughout your week to spend time with what you find funny. And enjoy it!
You are a superhero and asking for help won’t make you any less. So, don’t refrain yourself from asking the help you desperately need. Remember that the more often you engage the help of a trusted individual, the more time you will get for yourself. It will only get easier with experience if only you give it a chance.
The key to fully relish your life with an autistic child is the daily mindfulness practice that can help you become more present with the time you have at hand. Rather than replaying something in your mind that happened yesterday or worry about what might happen later today, you should focus on enjoying the moment that’s right in front of you.
Though parents of children with autism face many unique challenges, they are not necessarily doomed to a life of stress. “What ifs” can be the major reason you’re thinking you don’t have time to take care of yourself. So, acknowledge the fact that when you make self-care a central part of your life, the kindness you show to yourself will infuse in your own life and the life of your family with positive energy. Light a scented candle, take a hot bath, listen to your favorite music, or drink some herbal tea, do anything that makes you feel good. You’ve earned it!