Following are some simple tips for helping manage the difficult feelings you’re likely to experience on the front end of your child’s treatment experience. There’s no way around the challenges of such a profound adjustment. Some simple coping techniques, however, can help you make your way through this transition so that you can more quickly, fully, and positively engage your child’s treatment process.
- Find a Confidante: You can’t do this alone. Find someone outside of your family system (i.e. who’s not immersed in the same stressful situation) whom you trust and ask if you can just download your thoughts and feelings from time to time. If you don’t have this kind of friend, a good therapist can serve this purpose as well.
- Do Your Work: Any time a member of the family requires treatment, the whole family stands to benefit from support. That’s because families function as systems in which every part impacts every other part and the whole. Your child isn’t the problem. Instead, your child is entangled in a problem that also entangles you; so her time in treatment is the best opportunity for you to engage in your own process of healing, therapy, and personal growth, whatever form that might take.
- Cultivate Hope: Remember that your reason for sending your child to treatment was based on love and the hope that a solution exists. Nurture that hope by imagining and expecting a positive outcome. That hope will come across to your child and will help you engage the experience more effectively.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity is critical for mood regulation. An hour per day of moderate exercise—walking, jogging, bicycling, yoga, etc.—six days a week should yield noticeable results, both physically and emotionally. When possible, exercise outdoors to add the benefits of vitamin D production, which can also boost your mood.
- Eat Well: Eating a well-rounded diet that includes lots of veggies, dark-skinned berries, and fish can also have a positive impact on your physical and emotional ability to cope.
- Breathe: When we become stressed, we sometimes literally forget to breathe. When breathing becomes stiff, our stress levels increase. Yoga is, perhaps, the best way to learn how to breathe in such a way as to regulate stress. Many therapists now use yoga and other eastern mindfulness techniques as a mainstay for treating emotional dysregulation and stress.