A parent’s guide to positive mental wellbeing
Parent or carers of autistic young people can face a number of unique and sometimes difficult challenges.
These may be exacerbated in the current situation.
We know that parents and carers work hard every day for their child’s benefit, ensuring they are happy and healthy. But sometimes pressures can build up and be overwhelming. You might even feel like you are at breaking point.
This is completely understandable and something that lots of parents and carers go through. Spending so much time looking after someone else can often mean, you neglect to look after your own wellbeing. Feeling overwhelmed, desperate and worn out could be a sign that you need to look after yourself.
To best support your family, it is important to look after yourself in a way that is most appropriate for you. Though you may have very little free time, finding ways to look after your own mental wellbeing will benefit you and your family.
Take a moment of pause
In a busy day, try to find a small moment to just breathe. Though it might be difficult to find a quiet space to yourself, breathing strategies can help calm the mind and shift your focus from the stress and worry to the present moment.
Talk to others
Keeping connected with others outside your household can help relieve feelings of isolation or loneliness that parents and carers can sometimes feel. It is important to talk about how you feel. You might want to share and read about similar experiences on a forum like our Talk about Autism community.
Alternatively, you might choose to talk to others as an escape from your usual routines or challenges.
Feeling anxious or stressed can affect sleeping patterns. In fact, lack of sleep can make it more difficult to cope with everyday challenges and make stress even worse. There are ways you can support sleeping patterns with enough exercise during the day and a healthy diet.
Finding the positives
Caring for someone bring lots of challenges and rewards. We understand that looking after someone can change your relationship with them and challenge the family dynamic. There will be lots of positives looking after your child or young person with autism, it’s important to notice these things. Reminding yourself of these will help you overcome feelings of frustration. You should also remind yourself of the challenges you’ve come through already.
Being organised can help you feel more in control. Keeping stim toys, daily planners or medication details somewhere where you know they will be helpful.
Ask for help
Most parents and carers need more support at some point. This support can be from family, friends or support groups. Some might feel overwhelmed or ashamed at asking for help but there are lots of support networks out there ready to support people when they are looking for information, advise, guidance and emotional support.
For further information and support
NHS mental health support at home during Coronavirus.
Mind mental health charity wellbeing support.
Scope disability charity support for parents and carers of disabled people.
The School Run mental health tips for parents of SEN children.
National Autistic Society host a parent to parent helpline.