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Caregiver Burnout: Self-Care for Parents of Children With Special Needs

Parenting is a unique and rewarding experience but is never easy. Parenting can be challenging and demanding even under the best of circumstances. However, the stress faced by the parents of children with special needs is of an entirely different magnitude. The chronic stress associated with taking care of people with special needs can be overwhelming if you do not have the right support and can lead to Caregiver Burnout which adversely affects you and your child. The Caregiver Burnout is simply a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion faced by caregivers. Studies show that caregivers of children with special needs often struggle with anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) et cetera.

Sometimes taking a few minutes for yourself and practising self-care is necessary and can help you avoid a burnout. Here are a few ideas for self-care to take care of your own well-being which is as important as anyone else’s!

Join a community of people facing the same challenges as you.

Finding a social group who share the same challenges can be a great support. Whenever you feel stressed, anxious or lonely, remember that when it comes to caretaking challenges, you are not alone! There are others who understand the joys and struggles of caring for a loved one with special needs. Look out for caregiving communities where you would be able to connect with people who have more years of experience and would share knowledge and resources to help you. You will most likely find other caregivers like you who just need a friend who would understand what they are going through. There are also many different support groups that are more specific to your loved one’s diagnosis that can offer help, support, and other resources. Interacting with others will definitely make you feel more connected and provide relief, in addition to receiving valuable expertise and help from experienced caregivers.

“Me Time”: Make time for yourself

Taking time off is the most important action to prevent any kind of burnout. Just because you’re caring for your special child does not mean that you do not care for yourself. You deserve time alone, where you do what you like, what you are passionate about. This could be anything that helps you relieve stress and enjoy: workout, read a book, watch your favourite Netflix series, go out with your friend, play a video game. Always schedule a few minutes of alone time everyday. Let your family know not to disturb you during that time and let go of your family and work related responsibilities.

Consider Respite Care Solutions

Respite care provides short-term relief from the demands of caregiving a special needs child for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days. Care can be provided at home, or at an adult day centre. Resorting to Respite Care is OK if you are getting burnt out and overwhelmed. It helps you refresh and rejuvenate so that you can better care for your child without running out of patience. No one can care for someone else all the time and resorting to respite care is not selfish. In fact, it helps you be a better caregiver in the long-run. It benefits the person you’re caring for, too, providing them with variety, stimulation, and a welcome change of routine. It also makes them more ready to live a life without you being around.

Practise Mental Well-Being

In today’s world mental wellbeing is extremely important and if you are under constant stress of parenting a special child it’s importance becomes significantly higher. This may sound extremely cliché but practise meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, get adequate undisturbed sleep, and do not hesitate talking to a counsellor or therapist if you feel overwhelmed. Make your mental health a priority and stop being very hard on yourself!

Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your child.

SpedGrow is a budding startup that conducts engaging and fun financial literacy workshops, activities and classes for people with special needs. Find out more and register!

The SpedGrow App is a financial wallet which allows vulnerable individuals to handle financial transactions in a safe environment. With the financial wallet, these individuals can make purchases independently, grow savings for the things they like, and basically learn to be savvy with their money while being protected. It allows caregivers to supervise their child’s spendings. It also provides gamified education about money related concepts and real-life situations through simple, yet impactful in-app games.

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