Stress Management

We all know that prolonged stress is not good for the body. Stress affects us at the cellular level and can cause aging, accidents or illness.  Short bursts of stress don’t harm the body, but  extensive, prolonged stress is not good for us.

They have tests to measure stress, but I know that you know that you are under stress if you are the parent of a child handicapped by autism. You don’t need a test to measure it. The strain and pressure of caring for a child with autism is an extremely stressful situation that many people cannot relate to. How can they understand the stress we are under if they don’t have our experiences and challenges?

There were so many concerns about PJ’s future that Pervis Sr and I decided that we would be his future. When I decided that I was in this for the long haul, I took stress management classes because I thought that I could not handle the stress. I learned that if we can’t get rid of stress in our life, we have to change the way that we react to stress.

We have to do more deep breathing because stress robs our body of nitrous oxide and deep breathing taps into this and helps increase it.  Deep breathing and deep relaxation (tensing and relaxing ) of our body parts help decrease the effects of stress on our bodies. This is the bare minimum of what we can do to decrease the effects of stress.

We also need some form of exercise to develop and maintain our stamina. My exercise of choice is yoga. It has been very beneficial to me and is something that I don’t have to leave home or get a sitter to be able to do. I am not athletic at all, so yoga works for me. A more athletic person may choose something else, but some form of exercise is important. I took yoga classes during the 80s, but quit  during the years that I was teaching.  I started back doing yoga after I retired.

You may feel that you get enough exercise just taking care of your child, because they do keep us busy, but that is just more stress. Maybe there is an exercise that you might enjoy.  I don’t actually enjoy yoga, but I know it is good for me. I feel better and healthier when I do it on a consistent basis. (I admit, that is hard).

I hope that parents are doing something for stress management. I hope that you are able to get some “me time”.  Sometimes my “me time” came in the middle of the night. We spend so much time and energy on our children that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves. We also have to learn to pick our battles and not to waste our energy on unimportant things.

PJ has older sisters and an older brother, so I had sitters when I felt the need to make an escape from autism. I was able to get respite at least two weeks a year also. When my husband and I were separated, I tried to do everything by myself. That’s when I was really overcome by the stress of  autism.

They say  that you can’t help what happens to you. You can only help what you do about what happens to you. Try to remember to take care of yourself.

Until next time; May you have Peace and Love in your life.

Claudreen Jackson

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