How to Reduce Stress for the New Year
If you’re anything like most other autism moms, sometimes it feels like life is taking you for a crazy ride. Okay, let’s be honest – it feels that way most of the time! There’s always a meltdown to calm, a new sensory issue to figure out, or another regression to face. It can leave us feeling unaccomplished, disappointed, helpless, and just plain exhausted. Sounds fun, right? (*rolls eyes) No way! So let’s follow these tips to take back control of our lives, reduce stress, and make this new year the best year ever!
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Basic Ways to Reduce Stress
We can all narrow down our stress points quite a bit. One of mine is dishes. If the dishes aren’t done before bedtime, it ruins my next morning, which pretty much ruins the day. But that’s way more specific than we need to be right now. There are a few keys to helping reduce stress, in general, and that’s what you need to focus on. Taking care of yourself, getting organized, and maintaining routines are the best ways to reduce stress. Sure, it will take some lifestyle changes and some discipline, but you want a better life, right? That’s what I thought. So let’s get started!
1) Get organized
This doesn’t mean tidy up your office, although that’s not a bad idea. But for now, we’re talking about organizing your life. Stop letting life happen to you, and you take charge of your days. How is that even possible, when there are so many therapy appointments, daily stresses, and unforeseen circumstances to deal with? Well, it starts with being intentional.
You have my permission to go splurge (a little) on a cute new planner if you must. (I love this one, which states “Best year ever” on the cover – it’s a nice reminder!) Throw in some fun pens, or start a bullet journal. Whatever it’s going to take to get you motivated, do it!
Set aside some time to think about what you want your life to look like. Be realistic, of course. Even though your child requires much more assistance than typical children, you still have an identity, and you can still live your life. So set some goals.
What are your goals for the new year? Maybe you want to get your finances under control, get a new job certification, or become a healthier and happier version of you. Maybe you want to gain more knowledge about autism spectrum disorders, because this is still pretty new to you – if so, check out my autism beginner’s eBook, and it will have you on your way!
Whatever your goals are, write them down! Then, make a simplified daily or weekly checklist, to help you have a continued sense of accomplishment. I have yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals, because it helps me to check off those daily boxes to see I’m really doing something!
Wake up before your kids
I really can’t stress this point enough. It’s the one biggest game-changer I can recommend, because it allows you the necessary time to do important things like relax, think, set goals, make a schedule, have alone time, and focus on positives.
Waking up before your kids gives you a little bit of time to take charge of the day, before it runs away with you.
I am as far as you can possibly get from being a morning person. I loathe mornings. But waking up super early has completely changed our little world. I am a different person when I have started my day right, than when I wake up to two adorable tiny people jumping on me.
If you’re not a morning person, it may be a big adjustment, but I promise you it will be worth it. Bonus points if you can check off some items from your daily goals before the kids wake! I’ve turned it into a little game, and it’s great motivation!
Make a schedule
This is another big one. Having a schedule helps you to get organized and stay organized. When you have some quiet time (it may be at 2:00 am, like me!), sit down and make a simple schedule. Jot down events that happen regularly, and fill in the blanks around them.
If your child has weekly therapies, or goes to school, those things should be penciled in first. Then decide what needs to happen with the rest of the day. Include meal times, bath time, bedtime routines, play time, and other daily habits.
Having a schedule and sticking to a routine makes the week flow much smoother. It gives you more control over your life, and helps reduce stress for your children as well. We all thrive with routines. If you haven’t already, begin using a visual schedule to help keep your children informed about what’s next.
Organizing your life puts control back in your hands, and in turn, reduces stress and anxiety all around. When Mama feels like she’s accomplishing something, everyone else is happier too.
Take care of yourself
This is probably the hardest thing for special needs moms. My health went down the tubes a few years ago because of all the stress. I had a major health scare, which caused me to reevaluate and get my priorities in line. You won’t do your kids any good if you’re dead…and that’s no joke. With the constant stress of special needs parenting, we have no choice but to take care of ourselves.
But how?! That’s the million dollar question, right? I used to say the same thing. As a single mom working from home with two autistic children, I don’t get a break very often! So I definitely understand.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is one we already went over: wake up before your kids! Another hour of sleep sure sounds glorious, but it will cost you. Wake up a little early and have some time to yourself.
Spend 20 minutes doing a fun YouTube dance workout, sip a whole cup of coffee uninterrupted (sounds dreamy, right?!), make a healthier breakfast, read some Scriptures or encouraging quotes, enjoy a hot shower, journal, fix your hair, whatever – just spend some time doing something that will benefit you. Then you will be more prepared to take on the day. Check out this post for some great ideas on how to relax in 20 minutes.
Even if you have to wake up during the middle of the night to have an hour to yourself once a week, do it. Try to get decent sleep (here are some helpful tips on getting your kids to sleep too!), slip fruits and veggies into your diet, take vitamins, allow yourself to relax on a regular basis, and stay hydrated. Connect with other moms, use a journal, track every little success, and focus on the things you can control. Those are just a few bits of wisdom that will help you reduce stress this year.
You’ve got this, Mama! I hope you’re more motivated now, and that you’re ready to have a less stressful and more productive and rewarding year!