I took a stress test online today and scored 443! When I looked up what this meant it said, “You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.” Some of the biggies for me were the death of two close family members, retirement, and a change in residence. Thankfully pregnancy and a jail term were not on my list or I would probably be writing this in the back of a stretcher on my way to the hospital.
Richard S. Lazarus, the psychologist who developed the test I mentioned above defines stress as “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
In less formal terms, we feel stressed when we feel that “things are out of control.” There is no doubt that as the parent of a child with special needs you often feel “things are out of control.” The aid doesn’t show up, the seizures won’t stop, your child can’t communicate what is hurting them, the school won’t give you services, and your child is once again not included. There were many days when we were caring for David that I woke up with stress and went to bed with stress. It was my ever present companion.
One of the reasons we started David’s Refuge was to provide a resource to offer parents who were just like us, families who were overwhelmed and stressed out by their role as caregivers. We recognized the importance of self-care and respite, the need to unplug even for an hour to recharge our batteries. On David’s Refuge website you will find the following quote from Suzanne Mintz, the President and Co-Founder of the National Family Caregivers Association:
“It isn’t possible to talk about self-care for family caregivers without talking about respite. More than any other service, respite or a break is what family caregivers want most. The primary purpose of respite care is to provide relief from the extraordinary and intensive demands of ongoing care to someone with special needs, thereby strengthening the family’s ability to provide care. Respite care is planned and proactive.”
So my question for you is how are you being proactive in creating a moment of respite for yourself? I know you are stressed! I know you need a break! So what is your plan to find a moment of respite so you can care for yourself? It may simply be curling up and watching a thirty minute show on TV with a cup of coffee and bowl of popcorn (sure a glass of wine is OK as well!.) It could be a weekend away with David’s Refuge. My encouragement is to do something. Start small but be proactive. If you want some encouragement give David’s Refuge a call (315-682-4204) and we can help you be creative.
If you are willing please share with us some of the ways you squeeze in a little respite. We would love to hear from you.