Looking after yourself

Being a parent or caregiver of tamariki or rangatahi / children or teenagers with FASD can be tiring and very challenging. Whānau who have children with FASD are often under a great deal of stress. 

It's important to do your best to look after yourself so when you need to respond to an extra-stressful situation (and there will always be those) you're in the best place to be able to stop and think about your options. If you're tired you may respond to melt-downs in ways which can make things worse – or yourself and your child – but if you have a bit of 'wiggle room' in your stress levels, it's better for everyone.

This will not always be possible however, even with the best of intentions, so don't beat yourself up if you can't always respond in the way you wish you could! 

New research for caregiver mental health

A recent (January 2024) research paper entitled Self-Care in Caregivers of Children with FASD by Carson Kautz, Jennifer Parr and Christie L. M. Petrenko found that practicing regular self-care could lead to lower stress and more satisfaction as a caregiver. 

Their research found that the elevated levels of stress experienced by caregivers can negatively impact their mental and physical health as well as their the functionality of their families. High stress is also linked to a lower quality of life for caregiver and family (Reid & Moritz, 2019). Most caregivers will already know this!

Caregivers in the survey used a variety of strategies to engage in self-care: physical exercise, mindfulness, meditation, eating healthily and seeking social support. However, the article also pinpointed common obstacles that caregivers encounter when attempting to practice mindfulness, such as time restraints, limited resources and exhaustion.