It’s OK to not be OK

Feeling stressed is a normal response. We are all worrying. You are not weak because you feel anxious.

However, getting lost in our worries is neither helpful for us nor our children.

All parents, but especially parents of children with additional needs, often feel pressured to give so much to our children that we forget to take care of ourselves, or we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves.

As we continue to live in these difficult times, it may help to work out the things you can control and the things you can’t.

The more we focus on what’s not in our control, the more hopeless or anxious we’re likely to feel. I would like to suggest that the single most useful thing anyone can do in any type of crisis is to focus on what is in our control.

We can’t control the virus itself or how the government manages it. We can’t magically control our feelings, eliminating all our perfectly natural anxiety. But we can control what we do (our behaviour) and that’s key because it can make a huge difference both to ourselves and to our children.

We all have far more control over what we do (our behaviour), than we do over our thoughts and feelings.

Below are some things we cannot control. Because we cannot control these things it makes sense to let go of them:

  • How others follow the rules
  • How people around us react
  • How long this will last
  • Decisions concerning lockdowns, furlough schemes, bubbles, shops and businesses that can open and those that can’t.
  • The way services we need are (or are not) resourced/prioritised
  • The economic effect this is going to have into the future

Here are some things we can control, so let’s focus on them:

  • Your positive attitude
  • The way you follow government guidelines
  • Turning off the news
  • Finding things to do that make you feel happy and relaxed
  • Getting out in the fresh air and natural light
  • Going for a walk (and noticing nature)
  • Reaching out to friends and family (taking the initiative)
  • Allowing yourself to talk about your feelings
  • Asking for help
  • Limiting social media
  • Eating as healthily as you can afford
  • Getting as much sleep or rest as possible
  • Making a note of all the things for which you are thankful
  • Your kindness and patience.

It takes ENERGY to be a good parent. When we’re not taking care of ourselves, we can be irritable, exhausted or sad. Positive, proactive parenting takes patience, energy and optimism. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it becomes even more difficult to care for our children.

When anyone neglects to take care of themselves, they put stress on their mind and body. This stress can lead to physical effects like a weaker immune system and high blood pressure, but it can also lead to mental effects such as depression and anger management issues.

The more we are able to look after ourselves, the more use we will be to our children. Remember you can’t pour from an empty well!

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