Caregiver Stress and 5 minutes

May 16, 2008 Kyron 4 Comments

As parents of special needs kids, no matter the age, many of us do far more care tasks than we might otherwise with a child of the same age. Whether it’s because your child has physical limitations or intellectual limitations it’s really immaterial. The reality is that sometimes the toll of this care sneaks up on you and you don’t even realize it.

This past couple of weeks has been something like that. I think that it really hit home for me when I got a fundraiser mailing from the Alzheimer’s Association. On the back of one of their pamphlets was something well worth reprinting – it’s the 10 Symptoms of Caregiver Stress. Of course this for them is based on caring for an elderly loved one but it seemed so relevant to me I thought I’d just modify it some to show you how applicable it is to us.

  1. Denial – about the disability and its effects on the person.
  2. Anger – at the person with the disability or others about any number of things – the injustice of it all, the level of available treatments, the prognosis, the long term ramifications, the drain on your family’s resources, financially and emotionally and about a million other things - and that people don’t understand what’s going on.
  3. Social Withdrawal – from friends and activities that once brought pleasure
  4. Anxiety – about facing another day and what the future holds
  5. Depression – begins to affect the ability to cope
  6. Exhaustion – makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks
  7. Sleeplessness - caused by a never-ending list of concerns
  8. Irritability – leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses
  9. Lack of Concentration – makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks.
  10. Health Problems – begin to take their toll, both mentally and physically. Usually it’s not an overwhelming illness – just the feeling you just haven’t felt “right” in some time.

On this last day of the work week I’d remind you that an intregal part of caring for your child is caring for yourself. It’s always hard to “find” time to do this…so many demands on our time are always pulling at us looking for attention. Make it a priority to take some ‘me’ time this weekend, quiet your mind and relax. I’m not even talking a half hour – 5 minutes is a great start.

One of the ways I am working at taking time in my own life to try and change the stress is meditation. I know you all have this vision of me legs crossed, palms facing upward chanting UHM but it’s not that it at all. As it was originally explained to me by a great physical therapist is that it’s concentrated relaxation. One of the sites I have found most useful (and Forbes actually named one of the best of the web) is Learning Meditation.

Within the Meditation Room there are numerous available meditations for adults and children alike. Some are only 2-3 minutes long – some are as long at 10 minutes and there’s a wide variety in between. What I like is they are attainable even with only a short amount of time. The benefit to me has been noticeable and I hope it will be for you as well. It requires Real Player to listen to the audios or it has a printed version of the words that you can use while listening to your own relaxing music (think Enya, NOT Mettalica)

Mostly where I think it’s helped me is with my irritability (although my husband may argue this point icon wink Caregiver Stress and 5 minutes ) but I think it is starting to move over into the sleeplessness part of life as well. I seem to be having a slightly easier time of falling asleep. Who knows where it might benefit you? I know that no one should refuse themselves 5 minutes a day (at a minimum) to regroup and refresh. What have you got to lose?

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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. John says:

    I am a firm believer in the zen/meditation room
    In the basement I have a small studio designed just for that purpose. Granted it doubles as a recording studio and office, but it’s quiet space

  2. Kyron says:

    Hey John, as far as I’m concerned anywhere ya can lock yourself away for 5 minutes of peace is a good place!! :)
    ~Kyron

  3. I have a great “Bill of Rights for Parents and Caregivers” that I saved from an issue of M.U.M.S (Mother’s United in Moral Support:

    PARENTS & CAREGIVERS BILL OF RIGHTS

    I have the right:
     To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my child.
     To seek help from others. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
     To maintain facets of my own life that do not include my child, just as I would do if he/she were healthy. I know I do everything that I reasonably can for my child, and I have the right to do some things for myself.
     To get angry, be depressed and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
     To reject any attempt by my child (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through anger, guilt or depression.
     To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance for what I do for my loved one, as long as I offer these qualities in return.
     To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my child.
     To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my child no longer needs my full time help.
     To expect and demand that as new strides are made finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired children in our country, that similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

     Thanks to Mandy Meacham of Wisconsin for sending this to MUMS (Mothers United in Moral Support)

  4. Kyron says:

    Deirdre,

    Totally powerful! Thank you so much for sharing with us!!

    ~Kyron

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