Caregiver Stress Syndrome (CSS) is a syndrome found in caregivers involving pathological, morbid changes in physiological and psychological function. This syndrome can be the result of acute or chronic stress, directly as a result of care-giving activities.
Caregiver burnout and fatigue are very real. Many parents struggle through this overwhelming fatigue on their own simply because they may not recognize the many symptoms they are experiencing as something legitimate. Regular respite may be at at a minimum, too infrequent to lift the physiological and psychological stress that accumulates often leading to depression.
Unfortunately, most of the information out there is for caregivers working with aging parents. Little is discussed about the role of caregiver strain on parents of children with various isms.
Natural Supplements to Give you a Boost
Although I have a background in mental health nursing, my first suggestion is not always medication. I lean toward suggestions with a more holistic and natural approach, first.
When we are buried in the care of our children with various isms (with many of us bearing the added responsibility of caring for our aging parents), we tend to neglect our own basic needs. One of those neglected needs may be our diet, leaving us depleted of essential nutrients that enhance neurotransmitter function thus contributing to an altered mood.
Mood Boosting Supplements
- B-complex vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Essential fatty acids (omega-3’s)
- L-theanine (amino acid)
- Cysteine (amino acid)
Improve your mood with food!
A comprehensive and integrative approach offers improved symptom resolution. Finding an integrative health care practitioner who will evaluate your history, perform a comprehensive physical and coordinate care for your individual needs is indeed a challenge. If you cannot find one, here are some options to explore:
- Talk therapy/counseling
- Body work methods, such as craniosacral therapy (CST), osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), chiropractic, therapeutic massage, or Reiki
- Acupuncture, auriculotherapy
- Herbal remedies, such as St. John’s wort, passionflower, valerian, aromatherapy
- Targeted amino acid support , such as SAM-e , 5-hydroxytryptophan, GABA
It is most optimal to discuss supplementation with your integrative health care provider to manage possible allergies or the potential for interactions with current medication.
- Eat a low glycemic-load diet with adequate protein and vegetables. This may be easy for families already on a gluten free diet.
- Start a high-quality multivitamin-mineral regime, including omega-3’s (EPA and DHA).
- Have your vitamin D level tested regularly and, depending on your levels, expose your skin safely to the sun or supplement with vitamin D accordingly.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise 4–6 times a week for 30–60 minutes, preferably outdoors.
- Avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs, opting instead for drug-free relaxation methods such as transcendental meditation, yoga, or qi gong.
What is Your Focus?
Shift your focus off others if only for a brief time and put that focus back on you. Think about how your current circumstances may be affecting your outlook on life. Ask yourself if you are adequately nourishing your body, mind and spirit? Are you sleeping well? Are you eating right? When you get free time, who are you spending time with or how are you spending that time?
Be gentle with yourself and take time to discover what feels right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As caregivers, it is important to be sure to take a break OFTEN enough to maintain a healthy balance between care-giving and personal needs. Many times, people want to help, but they don’t know what to do that will help. And many times, we simply don’t ask for help because we don’t have the time to ask.
Do Something Just for You
“As parents of a child or children with various isms, you spend lots of time focused on their needs. Therapy appointments, school appointments, doctor’s appointments, etc. are just a few examples you know all too well. You may spend lots of time researching your child’s condition, planning and cooking meals, and on top of that you have all the other duties of being a parent.”
Reiki Master, Julie McAllister, asks: What have You Done for You Lately?
Prevent the Feelings of Isolation
“Isolation or the perception of feeling isolated is common with parents of children with special needs. “I feel so alone” has probably been thought or said out loud millions of times just in the last week. But when I looked up the definition of the word isolation, what I found was this: the act of isolation.
If it’s an action, then that means it is in our power to do something different. It is in our power to change that sense of isolation. I am sure you are thinking, “No, when I’m stuck at home with my child who is melting down, I can’t do anything about how isolated I feel right then.” You’re right, you can’t change that moment, but what you CAN do is put a plan in place so that you’re ready for those moments.” – Julie McAllister, Reiki Master
Indulge in YOU!
It is extremely important to take care of yourself. Think of yourself as a bank. The demands and challenges of life and raising our children are withdrawals. If we do not have any deposits, then our bank account will be empty and nothing can happen with an empty account.
We are of no good to our family if we do not take care of ourselves. Most of us do not have a plethora of support, so there is no point sitting around hoping that someone will make a deposit into our emotional bank. We need to create our own deposits.
Some Ideas to Make Mini Deposits
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe