It's ok not to be ok

As a parent of two children on the autism spectrum, stress is something I have learned to accept as part of the journey. There are days which can be tough and I admit that sometimes it's okay to say you are not okay. 

However, as I have my children to take care of, I have to dust myself down, manage this stress and carry on. I do this using strategies I have adopted over the years.  

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's important to have a plan to help you manage and reduce that stress.

I'd like to share with you some ideas that may help you establish your own plan to manage stress effectively.

  1. Identify the Source: Try to pinpoint the source of your stress. Understanding what's causing your stress can be the first step in addressing it. This might be related to work, personal relationships, health, or other factors.
  2. Take a deep Breath: Deep, slow breathing can help calm your nervous system. Take a few minutes to focus on your breath, inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This can help reduce any physiological response to stress.
  3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and then relax each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This technique can help release physical tension.
  4. Go for a walk: Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. Go for a walk, run, or engage in any form of exercise you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
  5. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness by staying in the present moment without judgment. Meditation and mindfulness techniques can help you relax and reduce stress.
  6. Talk About It: Sometimes, sharing your feelings with a friend, family member, or therapist can be incredibly helpful. They can provide support, advice, or simply a listening ear.
  7. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can exacerbate stress. Reducing or eliminating these substances from your diet may help.
  8. Take control of your time: Create a to-do list, prioritise tasks, and break them down into manageable steps. Effective time management can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
  9. Eat Healthy: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can support your physical and mental well-being. Avoid excessive sugar and processed foods.
  10. Try and get some sleep: Make sure you're getting enough rest. Not easy I know, but a lack of sleep can significantly increase stress levels. Establish a bedtime routine and create a sleep-friendly environment.
  11. Have time for yourself: Engage in activities you enjoy and that help you relax, whether it's reading, gardening, listening to music, or pursuing a creative hobby.
  12. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when you have too much on your plate. Setting healthy boundaries can prevent overcommitment and reduce stress.
  13. Don't manage it alone: If stress becomes chronic and unmanageable, consider seeking help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide strategies and support for dealing with stress.
  14. Take a time out: When you're feeling overwhelmed, take short breaks during the day. A few minutes of relaxation or a walk can make a significant difference in reducing stress.
  15. Be positive to yourself: Challenge negative thoughts with positive affirmations and realistic thinking. Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism.

Remember that what works for one person may not work for another, so it's important to find the stress management techniques that are most effective for you. 

Additionally, if you find that stress is consistently interfering with your daily life, seeking professional help is a wise step to take. Don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance and support. But most of all don’t beat yourself up and remember that sometimes it's ok to say I’m not ok.

Autism Dad Ireland