Improved Wellness for Parents of Special Needs Children
As a parent of a child with special needs, you do your best to advocate for and support your child. Fatigue is a common issue among parents of special needs children. By recognizing the signs and taking vital steps, you can develop a practical and balanced self-care plan. Here are some tips from The Joy of Being Well.
Fatigue Affects Your Wellbeing
Parenting a special needs child exposes you to more stress with little relief. That’s why parental burnout and compassion fatigue are closely linked. Burnout can reduce your effectiveness and satisfaction as a parent. It can also jeopardize your interpersonal relationships, and you may experience depression and anxiety. To address the problem, start by considering factors that influence your wellbeing:
Caregiving Is a Partnership
Gender inequities can worsen caregiver burnout. Housework gender gaps persist. In one recent survey, 59% of women reported performing more household chores than their male partners. Women also disproportionately shoulder the work of caregiving.
Shared caregiving responsibility is critical to improving physical, mental, and emotional wellness. When partners share the load, they more effectively can meet their own needs. They also provide better care for their special needs children.
Wellness Starts at Home
Both minor and major home environment modifications can impact your wellness. Houseplants bring more of the natural world indoors, which benefits your mental health. One recent study showed a correlation between more indoor greenery and reduced depression.
Clutter is a practical problem, increasing the risk of fires and in-home accidents. It also collects dust, which can worsen respiratory allergies. Research has also found a link between clutter and higher cortisol levels. These can trigger symptoms like irritability and high blood pressure. To reduce clutter, resist impulse purchases and donate items you don’t use.
Personal Development Is Vital
A balanced lifestyle supports basic and complex human needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow categorized these into a basic hierarchy. Self-esteem and accomplishment take priority after meeting physiological, safety, and belonging needs.
Starting a business satisfies a practical purpose: bringing in income. Meanwhile, it can also provide a sense of satisfaction. You can register as a limited liability company. This business structure offers several benefits:
Pursuing higher education can help you realize your potential. Online degree programs fit into a busy schedule and provide interactive learning environments. Government statistics reveal that a degree can also significantly improve employment prospects.
Negative Outcomes May Come From Self-Care
Without prudent creation and practice, self-care plans can bring about their own problems. You may hyperfocus on certain aspects and neglect others—for instance, putting “me time” above family connections. Such a solipsistic self-care approach could strain your existing support networks. You could also wind up judging your success by your partner's emotional health. This may result in overcompensating for that individual and dismissing real interpersonal concerns. Finally, trying to self-treat depression and anxiety without professional health may prolong psychological distress.
You Must Advocate for Your Needs
For parents of special needs children, self-care is vital. Creating a positive home environment is an important step. Seeking support and making space for your own needs are also crucial. As you advocate for your child, advocating for yourself is integral to your wellbeing, though you must balance self-care needs with caregiving, interpersonal relationships, and other responsibilities.
This article is submitted by Jennifer McGregor of the Public Health Library.
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Over the last 30+ years I've been gathering tips to help my family live a healthier life. I'll share some of those here with you and welcome your ideas as well.