“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“
As I stood in the walkway between our kitchen and living room, I watched helplessly as my eight-year-old, high-functioning, autistic son had another melt-down. What had triggered this melt-down I can’t recall, but what I did know is that things were quickly beginning to escalate!
This beautiful, lovingly little boy was currently waging a war within himself, fighting to control the crashing tide of emotions that assaulted him. He threw himself to the ground; contorting his limbs and eliciting a sound that I simply cannot put into words. His brow furrowed in seeming anger, and a look of hopelessness quickly splayed across his face. His crystal-blue eyes began to fill with tears; I felt my own chest tighten and a knot formed in my throat… my strong reserve was beginning to crumble.
I fell to my knees, gathering my son into my arms, “Shhh…” I said, “take a deep breath… in your nose and out your mouth!” As I attempted to wrap my arms around him, he fought me, springing back with force. He threw his head back and howled, “it doesn’t work!” If I were to describe the current scene, I would say that I looked like Steve Irwin, attempting to wrestle a crocodile!
After what seemed like an eternity, he relented. “I’m just stupid… I’m a piece of crap!” He said. His words were scarcely audible as he softly sobbed into my chest, desperately attempting to catch his breath. Upon hearing my sons words, I swallowed thickly. “You are NOT stupid, and you are NOT a piece of crap! You are an incredible little boy… God loves you and so do we!” I said, placing a light kiss upon his temple.
Needless to say, this entire situation was incredibly stressful, and one we face as a family on a regular basis. Life is not easy, and no one ever promised it would be.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.“
– Ronald Regan
Each day we are faced with different circumstances, some of them soothing and some of them stressful. What is so vitally important is how we choose to handle those circumstances.
“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.“
I am not only a mother but I am also a wife and if any of you are married or have children, then you know that it can be a very difficult job. It can also be one of the most rewarding! I have three children, my step-son Aaron who is 11 1/2, my middle son Logan who is 8, and my daughter Kinlee who is 5.
Five years ago Logan was diagnosed with ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Aspergers Syndrom. When we first received word of his diagnosis, both my husband and I were devastated. We had no words… and no direction in which to go! For so long, we buried our heads in the sand, hoping his diagnosis would simply vanish. We were distraught, and truth be told, we were not handing our stress or the situation appropriately. We needed to allow the emotions that we had buried to surface. We went through a period of anger, grief, mourning, empathy, and sorrow. These emotions were all normal and needed to be felt, especially if we were going to help our son!
Things are much less stressful now in our household, not because we do not experience stressful situations, but because we have learned how to handle them.
Here are 10 ways we can reduce stress in our life…
#1. Choosing Your Emotional Response
This can be difficult, especially in the heat of the moment! If you find yourself face to face with a stressful circumstance, take a step back, breathe and ask yourself, “How could I best respond to this situation?“
Our bodies are created to move, and what better way to combat stress than by going for a bike ride, a nature hike, or a peaceful walk. You don’t have to push yourself to the breaking point, you would be amazed to see what 20 minutes a day can do for you!
#3. Deep Breathing
Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath as in enters your body, hold it for five seconds and then slowly push that breath out by exhaling through your mouth. This exercise has put a halt to many panic attacks I have experienced in my life.
Through many hours of research and advice given to me by therapists, I have learned how detrimental Cortisol can be to your health. Deep Breathing Exercises can stop that flow of Cortisol!
“Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four-line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).
Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaptation syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action — but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood, which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.“
If we do not stop the constant flow of Cortisol in our bodies, it can lead to serious health problems; anxiety, depression, learning and memory problems. It can lower immune functions, cause weight gain, and raise blood pressure. In many cases, continued stress can bring on auto-immune diseases.
I am so thankful for my husband because he is one of the funniest people I know! When I am feeling down or stressed, he almost always knows how to make me laugh. I challenge you, the next time you are stressed, listen to someone/something funny and try not to laugh! 😉
I have spent countless hours in meditation, and each moment spent has greatly helped reduce my levels of anxiety and stress. I ensure that wherever I go, that place is peaceful and quiet. I personally choose to reflect on scripture, or on a recent book I have read.
“Music is good for everybody. They say it soothes the savage beast. Well, I think theirs a beast in all of us. So let’s get some more music and soothe all the beasts out there.“
– B.B. King
#7. Positive Affirmations
Positive Affirmations can do wonders for the body, mind, and soul! Years ago I began what I called a P.R. Journal (Positive Reinforcement). I did not allow myself to write down anything negative, only positive things that helped uplift and restore me. I as well read aloud what I wrote, and even went as far as to write some specific things on my bathroom mirror.
One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stressed is to take a long, hot bath! I dim the lights in the bathroom, turn on soothing music and toss in some of my favorite bath bombs. This truly helps to soak away my stress!
Keeping things bottled up is not only detrimental to your emotional and physical health, but it can also damage your relationships with others. Find someone you trust, and talk to them about how you are feeling. If you do not feel comfortable with that, you can always reach out to a counselor, either online, through your local church or in your community.
#10. Scripture & Prayer
In times of confusion, stress, sorrow, or worry I have turned to scripture and prayer. In many ways the Bible has become a roadmap, paving out the path in which I should go. Contrary to what my children believe, I do not have all the answers, nor do I claim to! I do however know where to go when in need of comfort and peace…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
– Matthew 11:28