Caring for a child with Cerebral Palsy is a lifelong and challenging task. Every single day, their needs are put before your own. As rewarding as it is to be a caregiver, there are natural emotions of frustration, exhaustion, and stress. Being a caregiver creates more vulnerability to these emotions and if not taken care of, can be detrimental to your mental health.
As you care for your child, you may be so focused on them that you don’t realize your own well being is suffering. Between therapy appointments, school, and extracurricular activities, it is easy to fall into a routine that revolves around the child. It’s important to find ways to take care of yourself in order to be the best version of yourself as a caregiver.
Utilize these tools to manage your stress levels:
As simple as it sounds, breathing can make a world of a difference in tense moments. Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, as it triggers a relaxation response in the body. It is something you can always come back to throughout the day. Practice mindful breathing to bring life back into your lungs and clear your mind.
Movement and brain health are naturally interconnected. While the brain is the control center for the body, the body also directly impacts the functionality and health of the brain. After undergoing stress, your body needs ways in which it can release stress hormones. This release positively impacts your mind, body, and soul. Take an hour or so to yourself to take a walk, go to a yoga class, or go to another physical activity that will make you feel personally fulfilled.
Most caregivers will not admit when they need a break. Parents of children with Cerebral Palsy often make the mistake of trying to do it all. This will eventually lead to burn out and the inability to be fully present with your child. Ask and accept help from others to give yourself time to unwind and focus on just you. Remember that it is okay to step away and do something that will benefit only you.
Using gratitude to combat stress can not only help ease anxiety, but it helps create an overall positive attitude. Having a greater sense of appreciation for the people and things in your life
will lead you to dwell less on negative events and empty feelings. Gratitude can be cultivated and grown through practice. Every day, write down a few things you are grateful for so when you are in the depths of stress, you can reflect and shift your mindset.
Living with Cerebral Palsy is not easy for any person involved. It is a never-ending rollercoaster of changes and emotions every day. With every difficult situation that comes your way, having supportive people around you makes it much easier to conquer challenges. At CCPM, we value the support of our community. We believe that both the caregiver and the child need people to understand, listen, and love one another.
The commitment involved with taking care of your child can strain even the most resilient person. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. The isolating fears and emotions are able to go away.
As a CP community, we are here for you. Reach out to us, we would love to connect with you.