7 Ways To Manage Stress When Your Child Has CHD
Parenting is never easy, but it’s even tougher when your child has congenital heart disease (CHD). You may feel that you’ve been thrown into a world of unknowns, where you’re asked to learn “normal” parenting skills, alongside learning medical terminology, how to use medical equipment, and how to prepare in an emergency.
As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. To help you get through some of the challenges, here are a few things you can do:
- Avoid letting CHD define you and your family’s lives. Although challenging with regular medical appointments, medications, amongst other issues that arise, it's essential to find other things to focus on.
- Take a deep breath. Waiting in the hospital or going to medical appointments can be the most stressful time for you and your family. But when it feels like there’s not much you can do, try doing a simple breathing exercise like this one. It’s the quickest way to reset your nervous system and be in the present.
- Self-care: Practicing good self-care refers to making time for the things that you're passionate about, help you relax, or feel energized. Taking good care of yourself allows you to be the best parent you can be. When we ignore self-care practices, it's harder to find the energy and patience to be there for your child. Remember, it's not necessarily about what you do; it's more about doing it.
- Focus on what you can control. Stress and anxiety all share one thing in common: uncertainty. And while it may feel easier to look at the things you don't have, by focusing on the things that you and your family can control, you will be better equipped to handle stressors and bounce back quicker.
- Ask questions. You aren't expected to remember every detail that comes with taking good care of your child. Being in a constant state of stress means it's that much more challenging to remember things and think clearly. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something, and write things down if you need to.
- Join a support group. Aside from using your current support system, you may want to consider joining a support group. You can meet people who are experiencing similar stressors and circumstances. You may also learn new ways of coping in a setting meant specifically for that purpose.Ask your health professional if there's a local support group you can join.
- Talk to a counselor on your own or with your family. Coping with a child who has a lifelong illness impacts the entire family. Feeling sad, guilty, depressed, even angry are all normal and healthy emotions, so you may find it beneficial to process these emotions with a therapist or counselor.
The bottom line
One of the best ways to manage stress in any situation is to be present. Getting stuck in the "what ifs" isn’t always helpful. Remember to stay in the here and now, focus on what you can do at this moment. After all, the present is a gift.
Keywords: Child, Congenital heart defects, Coping, Family, Stress