Helping Parents Cope With Stress

Everyday stress is a given for parents. You won’t have to think too hard to find something that brings on some degree of stress whether it’s financial, work related, being disorganized or worrying about a family member or friend.

There are different levels of stress. More severe stress can lead to more serious issues such as depression, anxiety and even panic attacks. A lot of people don’t recognize the symptoms related to anxiety and panic and will often feel awful and genuinely be convinced that they could be seriously ill.

Parents with sick children are often under a lot of added stress, meaning that there are numerous parents that could potentially end up feeling depressed and anxious. When you consider the growing number of children with autism, epilepsy, down’s syndrome and other long term health related issues you can just imagine how large these numbers are. Besides the financial and health stressors having a child with health challenges can take its toll on the relationship between the mom and dad too.

Over the years I have known a number of families that have dealt with a sick child, children with various disabilities, or even the loss of a child. It is not uncommon to see some of these relationships really struggle and sometimes even fall apart. In order to get through these extremely difficult times and remain as a couple you need to have a strong relationship. Often a weaker relationship will not survive the extra pressures placed upon it. While some couples will come together when challenged with adversity and become stronger because of their shared commitment, others will become separate and try to deal with issues in very different ways; often becoming the undoing of their relationship. It’s important to realize that not everyone deals with challenges the same way and because the other person does things in a different way to you, it doesn’t make them a bad person, just someone with a different way of dealing with things.

Some people become much stronger and more determined when faced with an unexpected or difficult situation, especially when it’s related to their child. The other partner may be just as worried and concerned but cannot access that place of strength within themselves or be able to problem solve. Sometimes they end up just not being able to face the reality of what’s happening. Parents are often guilt ridden; they feel that when something is wrong with their child that it has to be something that they have done or not done.

How to recognize the symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attacks:

Depression: Some of the more common symptoms of depression are changes in sleep patterns, some may find themselves sleeping much longer, others are not getting enough sleep or having difficulty getting to sleep. Lack of concentration and finding it challenging to do things that used to come easily, having a lot of negative thoughts and can’t seem to shake them. Feelings of hopelessness and feeling helpless, being short tempered and irritable, loss of interest in things are also symptoms. In more serious cases some feel that life is not worth living, in such cases as this help should be sought right away.

Anxiety: Feeling anxious is a normal reaction to many of the things that we have to do in life that we are nervous about. It can be going for a job interview, making a presentation waiting for the results of a test etc. Like stress it’s a normal part of life until it becomes excessive then it becomes an anxiety disorder. Some symptoms of anxiety disorder are: Feeling constantly on edge and worried, having irrational fears, worrying that things are going to go wrong, or something terrible is going to happen,. Starting to avoid everyday situations because they make you feel anxious or affecting your work, school or other daily activities.

Panic attacks: A lot of people that are suffering from panic attacks think that they are having a heart attack and that they could die. The symptoms can be really scary, these are just some of the symptoms that people have, shortness of breath, chest pains, feeling light headed, heart palpitations, dizziness, feeling hot then getting cold chills, shaking, and feelings of dread.

The main thing is to not let things go to the extreme, try to be vigilant and do what you need to do for yourself. If things do seem to be getting worse then you should seek some professional help. There is a lot of help available now including books and online information on this topic. Things have come a long way over these past few years. In general these conditions were not given the attention they deserved leaving a lot of people in the dark as to what was going on with them. Many of the doctors didn’t have a clue either.

Look after yourself. Make sure that you do some things that you enjoy. Get a baby-sitter make sure you get some time together as a couple. Go out for dinner; try to get a weekend away occasionally. Take up an activity like golf; it’s one of those activities that takes your mind off everything other than what you’re doing. If you are not an expert that’s okay you can do some practicing at home, the medicus driver can really help you to get a proper golf swing so that you get more enjoyment from your game.

It’s also important that you do things at home for yourself too. Eat healthy get your rest, try deep breathing and meditation. Take a long relaxing bath when you can, listen to music that you enjoy. If you like to dance then dance around the house. Find a few home hobbies, you can learn and do almost anything at home these days. If you like art; you may want to learn oil painting or watercolours. Just think of things that you would like to do. It’s good for you and your child when you are taking care of yourself. When you do things for yourself you become better able to care for others.

Author Bio: Shirley Price is trained in life coaching, NLP and Solution focused therapy. She is a mom and grandmother living in Vancouver BC. She is the publisher of a website lifebydesignover50.com a website for the over 50s.

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About Arlene Martell

Arlene Martell is the publisher of EpilepsyMoms.com and the author of Getting Adam Back – A Mother’s triumph over Epilepsy and Autism. She resides in a seaside suburb on Vancouver BC Canada with her husband James and their four children Adam, Justin, Shelby and Victoria.