What to do When You Feel Overwhelmed
“Nobody said that autism parenting would be easy. Yet some of the strongest, and most persistent parents we have met at the Autism Treatment Center of America®, are those of children on the autism spectrum. Autism parenting takes work and dedication, and while it is possible to parent your child with an attitude of peace and ease, many parents can feel overwhelmed at different points throughout the process.
“Feeling overwhelmed means: Being overcome by the sense that something is too challenging to manage. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s not always easy to think and act clearly, and even function on a day-today basis.
“If you have had this experience, here are three tips on how to help yourself using Son-Rise Program Techniques:
1. “Don’t fight your overwhelm. You are doing the best you can. Because the experience of feeling overwhelmed doesn’t exactly feel great, it is tempting to want to bury our feelings or try to push them away when we are struggling. Allowing these feelings to come to the surface without judgment or resistance is the key to changing your experience. If you did nothing else but show kindness and compassion to yourself, in the face of your overwhelm, you will have taken some pressure off yourself and allowed yourself to relax into this feeling. Acceptance is a key fundamental of The Son-Rise Program®.
2. “Take one small action. When we are overwhelmed, we can become stuck or frozen because the feeling can be all-encompassing. If we don’t address this feeling and lean into it, it can lead to burnout, in which we are not able to do much at all. Once you have done the step above, (accepting you are feeling this way and that it’s okay,) try writing a short list of actions you could take to help yourself. This could be as simple as:
– get dressed
– open the window and take some deep breaths
– cook a yummy and healthy meal
– meet with your spouse/partner/friend and talk about a goal you would like to work on with your child.
“Don’t make a list too long because you’ll want it to feel manageable. Once you have some items on your list, write a star next to the one that feels most manageable to achieve. Go ahead and do that action on your list. If you managed to complete that action…. BRAVO! Move on to the next item. These small steps will help you feel successful in creating change and getting yourself into a different headspace. You can do it!
3. “Decide what can wait. When we are feeling overwhelmed we sometimes choose to do things that take more time and energy from us in the long run. For example, organizing the kitchen cabinets or scrolling through our phones. Ask yourself if doing these things will add value to your emotional experience or not. If the answer is yes, go ahead and do these things. If the answer is no, let it go. There is always tomorrow, next week, or next month. Evaluating all the things, you want to do and eliminating some of them will be liberating. This will allow you more time and energy for other priorities.
“Once you have followed these tips, check in with how you feel. Notice what helped the most so that you can use that as a blueprint for the next time you feel overwhelmed.”
Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher