Accepting the Journey, Stress and All
Accepting the Journey, Stress and All
April is both World Autism Awareness and Stress Awareness Month. The irony isn’t lost on me.
Let’s be honest: Loving, supporting, and advocating for our kids on a good day is stressful. And, personally, these last twelve months have tested my resiliency and commitment to show up as my best self for my daughter. Caring for a child with autism means that there will be stressful events and you will feel stress.
My response to this stress was to simply bury it in my little black box of emotions. Please learn from my mistakes, and don’t be a martyr. Believing that I could do it all and not taking time for myself resulted in my body breaking down due to the tremendous stress that it was forced to keep.
All those emotions that you’ve been denying--all those feelings that you’ve buried--let those come to the surface and see the light of day so that your body can accept and release them. Storing negative emotions in our body has long-term impacts that are only recently coming to light.
Acceptance is one of the keys to managing caregiver stress.
I was in denial about accepting my new role as a caregiver and also denying the fact that stress was inevitable. You see, a certain amount of stress in our daily lives is normal. It’s when stress becomes overwhelming and prolonged that it starts to impact our mental health and overall well-being.
The good news is that we have a choice and we’re not alone on this journey.
Knowing that stress is inevitable allows us to better accept the stress which then allows us to better ride the waves of stress when they appear--such as the uncertainty of programs and services during a global pandemic and the unpredictable behaviour of our kids when routines and schedules change.
The flip side of this caregiver journey is that we learn to savour all the good moments--the belly laughs, the hugs, the first steps, learning to ride a scooter, saying a new word, etc.
Our lives are forever changed for the better--stress and all.
Living a happy life doesn’t mean that there’s no darkness or sadness, it simply means that we choose not to dwell on it. When we choose to accept that the path will be bumpy, we can learn how to manage the potholes. Your answers to the following questions can help you identify the small changes you can make to improve your well-being today and strive for a happier path.
- What kind of support do you have?
- What do you do to stay active?
- What do you do to relax?
- What do you do for fun?
Yes; we’re allowed to have a fun and happy life as caregivers! Don’t get me wrong, I often have to remind myself not to let life get so darn serious.
- It costs nothing to play some music and dance.
- It costs nothing to send a text to connect.
- It costs nothing to go for a walk in the forest or on the beach.
- It costs nothing to close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.
Wishing you all love, grace, and compassion as every day is autism awareness day in our world.
About the Contributor
Nicole Dauz is a self-care coach and advocate who is committed to choosing happiness despite her circumstances. She’s also the proud mother of a neurotypical son and a daughter with a rare genetic disease and autism.
Nicole understands how caregivers are feeling as she spent the first five years of her caregiving journey in complete denial of all emotions as she was in shock that her daughter had an intellectual disability and would need weekly therapy to learn how to walk, feed and dress herself.
As a self-care coach, Nicole works with family caregivers who feel overwhelmed and at the end of their rope. Nicole provides them the tools and strategies needed to shift them from feeling stressed to regaining control of their lives and feeling gratitude and joy in their lives. Visit https://nicoledauz.com/ to learn more.
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