Caregivers of children with autism experience high levels of stress………
Caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience
increased stress and more significant negative caregiving consequences than those with typically
developing children (Adib, et al., 2019). Many research studies have proven that this is true. As a caregiver to two sons with autism, I sometimes feel like the entire world is caving in on me! Stress can negatively affect your health and well-being. In fact, the brain actually changes its chemistry the more we experience stress.
Don’t worry though, your myHana team is here to help! During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been taking the time to read helpful articles, books, and webinars about ways to relieve stress without spending money. Here are my 5 favorite tips:
1) Place a tennis ball beneath the arch of your bare feet.
With a comfortable downward pressure, move your foot back and forth so the ball moves from the toes to the heel. Try this for 5 minutes on each foot. Pair this activity with some deep breathing.
2) Prescribe quiet~ yes, research has shown that being still and quiet is restorative for our body.
Take at least 15 minutes to lie down in a quiet location. Visualize yourself floating. Let go of your muscles and body. Feel your body as it touches the floor, bed, or surface you’re laying on. Every time a thought pops up into your head, breathe it out deeply and ‘release’ it. Let your body go entirely limp and imagine you are floating. Practice this often as your body is not used to ‘letting go.’ It takes a few times to truly let go of your body!
3) Be a cat or dog!
Kneel on all fours and tuck your chin toward your chest. Curl your back up toward the ceiling. This is known as the cat in yoga. Now, hold this position for a few moments and then slowly return to a flat-back posture. Exhale as you curl your back and inhale as you flatten it (dog position). Repeat 10 times. Muscles of our core (neck and back) can become tight as we experience stress, this activity helps to release tension in the body and boosts oxygen too.
4) Practice mindfulness.
When you’re having a difficult time with stress and anxiety, take a few moments to go to a quiet area. Use your senses to become aware of your surroundings. Find something that’s a certain color. For example, I use the rainbow to find an item that’s red, orange, yellow, and so on. Next, find something you can touch. Notice it’s texture and shape. Now, feel your feet as they touch the floor. Wiggle your toes and take the time to notice how that feels.
5) Candle-gazing is a technique I use often with my clients.
Sit in a comfortable position with the candle on a table at your eye height. Place it a short distance from your line of sight. Spend a few minutes concentrating on your posture and breathing. Now, look at the flame as you take deep breaths. Notice the outline and center of the flame. When you feel relaxed, close your eyes and visualize the flame or ‘see’ the image of the flame. Repeat looking at the flame with closing your eyes. I find that candle-gazing helps both myself and my sons to be still and quiet as we focus on breathing and calm.
What’s worked for you? Let me know by commenting below!
Nik Adib, N. A., Ibrahim, M. I., Ab Rahman, A., Bakar, R. S., Yahaya, N. A., Hussin, S., & Wan Mansor, W. (2019). Perceived Stress among Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A State-Wide Study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(8), 1468. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081468