Emotions. They can really get to us, well I can say to most of us. There are a few of you out there that are very logical and keep us emotionally minded people grounded. That is why I’m so thankful for my husband – well, I’m not usually so thankful during the time he is being logical and I’m not, but later after I get past all the “feelings” I am so grateful that he was there with his stable mind, especially when dealing with “feout“.
Emotions are not all bad, though. They are good to have. Without them we can’t really comfort those that are hurting, nor can we celebrate with those that are rejoicing. I sometimes tend to be more emotional, than logical. I’m a woman, what can I say? Though, I may have emotional outbursts, I’ve learned to not make decisions based entirely on them. If I did, I’d never get out of bed in the morning and make breakfast for the hungry crew of four. Thus, the reason for debunking those excuses. This is the last of this “series” from me, though as I ponder this topic, I am seeing more places/situations arise – as I’m sure you are probably starting to see in your own life.
This “excuse” that I’m about to share, though, is the winner – the one that began this whole pondering process.
It all began with reading this post on parents of special needs children. Especially this section:
The panic and constant state of anxiety parents of special needs children experience almost become a part of you. It consumes you. The nature of the beast becomes embedded in our brains and we know that with so many variables to triggers that we can never completely let our guard down. Many parents become proficient at being proactive, walking on eggshells and creating a sensory friendly world that is foreign to others. We are militant in our preparedness to avoid that dreaded meltdown and disregulation that once started can set off a chain reaction that can last hours or even days. Studies have shown that special needs parents have cortisol levels equal to or higher than war veterans. We are warriors.
Read that last part again, “special needs parents have cortisol levels equal to or higher than war veterans”. If you are wondering, “Cortisol is a biological marker that plays an important role in linking stress exposure to health problems”, says Rick Nauert PhD in his article “Parental Stress with Special-Needs Children“.
And everything made sense...
Okay, honestly I already knew I had high stress in my life. I mean I have performed the Heimlich countless times, I’ve had surprise nutella splatters, conditioner baths to clean, unplanned wall paintings, falls, a whole handful of hospital stays (with just Jie Jie alone), and I’ve lost the little rascal in an airport. Life is stressful with a special needs child – I agree with both of those articles.
But it was interesting how I responded right after I had the reason for my stress levels.
Yes, my response to the study that my cortisol levels were the same, if not higher than a war veteran’s was lame. I used it as an excuse. In my head I could eat more chocolate “because I’m highly stressed and need it for sanity purposes.” I also used it as an excuse for when I’d get really upset with my other children or with my husband. I found that for a few days I would immediately think of that report and excuse my behavior. “I can’t help it, my cortisol levels are just too high,” I’d say to myself.
But, something in my gut disagreed, so I began some searching…
In reality, it was the scales and the tightness of my pants that directed that spotlight to my attention of my silly thinking. The book I mentioned in Part 1 also blew this thought process out of my mind. Yes, it is the truth that I’m under some stress, stress that is causing super high levels of cortisol – but it shouldn’t excuse my behavior. In fact, it should have caused me to step up my game in taking care of myself, or as what Dr. Neusert calls in his article, “stress-reduction strategies”.
So there you have it – don’t let scientific reasons become your excuse for your behavior whether towards yourself or to others. We are responsible for how we treat each other – and as parents, especially living overseas, we teach our children how to treat others.
I’ll share next week what those “strategies” are that I’m now doing and I’d like to share what others are doing to reduce their stress. So please share below in the comments what you do to reduce stress, especially if you are a parent of a special needs child living overseas.