Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Filling your happiness tank

Autism affects every family a little differently. Many families feel the financial strain from the many therapies, doctor appointments, and medications. Some feel the emotional stress brought on by the constant battles with the schools, doctors, and the children themselves.  Many siblings feel neglected by the amount of energy the parents give to the autistic child.

Our family has faced every one of these challenges.  Many days my husband and I feel totally exhausted and frustrated by the time we go to bed. Our discussions during our rare alone time are often filled with worry over the present circumstances of dealing with Hunter’s condition and the concerns for his future.

I was once told by a doctor that moms of children with autism actually have less serotonin in their bodies. That means that these kiddos actually strip away our happy hormones.  What does all of this mean? It means we have had to get creative and make happiness happen.  I have gone down the path of being depressed, but I have come back stronger! I have learned that I MUST put myself first or there is absolutely nothing left for everyone else!

For me, yoga has been a great stress relief. I find that when I am done, I feel a sense of peace. The exercise also helps me face the day with more energy. The problem is finding the time.

I love to set aside 15 minutes to just be alone in my thoughts. Many times I take this time to journal. I love to write, so I find that this helps to calm my nerves and focus my energy to more positive things.  Just taking the time out to breathe and refocus seems to help. Again, it is not always easy to find the time, but I make a concerted effort to do this as often as possible.

Finally, I have found that date nights with my husband really help keep us stay connected. The divorce rate amongst parents of children with autism is really high. It is so important to have that time for my hubby and I to just be “us” for a while. It also allows us to regroup and become a stronger unit to fight the daily struggles. We try to do this once a month, but don’t always make it.

On my journey I have found that these things really work for me. It is so important to find whatever makes you happy and use it to refill your happiness tank.  Simple things like manicures, massages, long walks, or reading can give you the break you need to recharge and come back stronger. The important thing for all moms is that we take care of ourselves. We have to have to stay healthy and happy so we can be there to fight for our children.