As parents, especially a parent of a child with a social, emotional, behavioral, or mental challenge, it can seem like everybody else comes before you. Your kiddos probably treat your snacks as fair game and sometimes your meals consist of room temperature mac and cheese and unwanted crusts. While sacrifice comes with the parenting territory it is okay and good to make your mental health a priority. "You can't help someone from a sinking boat," and it is imperative to yourself, your children and your whole family that you are in tune with your own mental health. Think of all the time you have spent scheduling therapy sessions for your children, worrying about their mental health, and talking to them about how important it is to check in with themselves. We are encouraging you to take a fraction of the time you spend focusing on your children's mental health to focus on your own.

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Things are going to stress you out; that is life, especially life as a parent of a child with an emotional, behavioral, social, or mental challenge. When you find yourself in the thick of a stressful and overwhelming situation it can be hard to think straight and rationalize ways that will help ease your anxiety. The purpose of this tip sheet is for you to have a place where you can sit down and make yourself a priority by laying out the things that help you relieve stress. These tactics are unique to you and what helps you when you are overwhelmed. Print out the blank sheet and fill it out for yourself. Keep this resource somewhere easily accessible to you (like your wallet, bed side table, or fridge) and when you find yourself in a situation that you need it is there for you to use.

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We had one of our parents fill out the things that help her when she is feeling overwhelmed as an example and the things that help her to relax in stressful situations are below. Read through her answers because they may help to inspire your own answers. But that is the beauty of the Emotional Safety Plan, it’s 100% customizable to you!

Woman Drinking Coffee

Make a cup of tea

Business Owner

Call a trusted friend

Beach Run

Go for a run or get some fresh air

Now it’s your turn! What are some things you can put on your list to help you center yourself before things get overwhelming?