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What parents can do to take care of themselves.

As a new parent you are very focused on taking good care of your baby, and that is wonderful, but remember, it’s also important to take good care of yourself. Doing so will keep you feeling healthy, strong and well-equipped to deal with your responsibilities as a parent. It can also help you develop and maintain a positive frame of mind, which is necessary for meeting new challenges successfully. Here are some tips many new parents have found helpful for reducing anxiety and stress:

  • Be patient with yourself. The road to acceptance is a process, so give yourself time to deal with your emotional responses.
  • Some days you might feel like you’re taking steps backward, but recognize that this doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress.
  • If you feel it would be helpful, do not hesitate to contact a therapist or doctor
  • Lean on other parents and learn from them.
  • Build a support system. It may be tempting to keep to yourself at this time, but doing so can result in feelings of isolation.
  • Reach out to trusted friends or family members. This allows your loved ones to understand what you’re going through and gives them a chance to offer comfort and support. You can always let them know how much help you need or desire, and if you want time alone, don’t hesitate to say so.
  • Schedule some alone time regularly, and use this time to “recharge.” Read a book, take a warm bath, go for a walk, or just watch your favourite TV show. Do something you enjoy and find relaxing, and let yourself enjoy it. Alone time may sound like a luxury, but it is necessary for good health and can do wonders for your productivity and mood.
  • Take care of your physical health. Research shows that a healthy eating and exercise plan can reduce fatigue, irritability, and risk for certain diseases and health complications. Develop a plan that works for you and make an effort to stick to it, especially during times of high stress. Be sure to get regular medical check-ups, too.
  • Practice living in the moment. While it is important to plan ahead, worrying about the future can easily lead to anxiety. Although it may be hard, try to focus only on what you can do realistically in the present. If you find yourself getting anxious about a particular situation, try this strategy:
  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Research your options.
  3. Make a decision.
  4. Set a date in the future to evaluate how your decision is working. In the meantime, just go with the decision you made and trust that everything will work out.
  5. Don’t lose sight of “the important things in life.” Nurture your relationships with your partner, children, friends and family. Communicate with each other, laugh, do fun things together, celebrate traditions and be sure to spend quality time with your new baby that doesn’t focus on his or her disability. The fact that your baby has Down syndrome is life-changing. But it doesn’t change the things that are truly important in life!