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Tips for Overcoming Exhaustion as a Special Needs Parent

Written By Guest Blogger Jason Kenner

Being a stay-at-home parent is rewarding but exhausting. And the tiredness reaches even new levels when your child lives with special needs.

Yes, you cherish your son or daughter and wouldn’t trade your role for any other. But the chronic fatigue coupled with the fact that your child may not reach the independence that your friends’ kids will soon reach can make parenthood overwhelming. Below, itscoolmom shares some practical advice for addressing exhaustion and improving your quality of life.

How to Identify Your Fatigue Levels

First, you must determine precisely how tired you are so you can devise a plan for treating your fatigue. Several signs can indicate high levels of fatigue.

For example, if you’re not able to maintain a consistent fitness routine and everyday tasks impact your breathing rate, you’re likely dealing with chronic fatigue and need to address it now.

Also, if your caregiving burden is consuming most of your time, it might be time to ask friends or family members to help out. If that’s not an option, consider hiring a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Social support and marital satisfaction are other metrics by which you can gauge your fatigue levels. Some special needs parents exhaust their relationships and eventually feel like they don’t have much support.

Similarly, it’s common for the caregiving burden to negatively impact marriages. You and your partner must constantly reevaluate your routines and prioritize time together.

Seek Mental Health Support

Too many overburdened parents neglect to seek professional help either because they think it’s too expensive or time-consuming, or because they’re afraid of a stigma attached to it.

Check with your insurance provider to see if your policy covers mental health services. If not, ask local therapists if they have any programs that provide discounted rates.

Another option is to try virtual mental health services. Not only is online therapy a more minor commitment than meeting a therapist in person, but it’s also private and secure. A number of therapists are online, you won’t have to worry about commuting to an office, and you’ll save money on services.

Chase Your Dreams

Another way to work on yourself and treat your fatigue is to establish personal goals and think about what you want in life. As a special-needs parent, your reality is quite different from that of some other parents. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dream and pursue those dreams.

Have you wanted to return to school and earn a bachelor's or master's degree? Since you can take online courses, now might be the time to do it. Have you always wanted to start a business? You could turn your passion into a side business and gradually build it into something more. Take stock of your interests, skills, and knowledge, and brainstorm business ideas until you land on something that offers the market something unique.

Lastly, pick up a hobby or two that helps you unwind and adds joy to your routine. Find activities you can do on a daily or weekly basis to reduce stress and incorporate a bit of variety to your thing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

● Gardening

● Learning an instrument

● Learning a new language

● Listening to a new podcast

● Writing in a journal

● DIY home projects

● Crocheting, knitting, or sewing

● Jewelry making

● Painting or drawing

● Sculpting

● Calligraphy

● Volunteering at a local charity

● Reading classic literature

● Cooking new recipes

Wrapping Up

Being a special-needs parent is exhausting, and you probably won’t be able to eliminate the stress altogether from your life. But you can reduce stress and address your fatigue to make a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life for yourself and your family.

As you come up with a self-care treatment plan, look out for unintended negative outcomes, such as ignoring depression symptoms or overburdening your friends and family. And commit wholeheartedly to your new routines so you can be your best self for your child and others.

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