I work with a lot of amazing people. Parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and (last but not least) administrators. They all lead stressful lives, organizing care and support for their loved ones, but who gives them support?

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a father who (with his family) cares for their son who has special needs. As we hiked up a trail, we talked about his experience caring for his two neurotypical children in addition to his son with special needs, who we’ll call George.

He shared a story with me where one son offered to take care of George so that he and his wife could go off for a vacation.His son knew they needed to care for themselves and were exhausted.

That one small deed is amazing in it’s show of love and support.

It got me thinking about the care others in similar situations give themselves. Not everyone has someone who can take over while they are away, but they need to find stress relief just as much as those who do!

Of all the people in the world who deserve a relaxing (or adventurous!) vacation, it’s not the high powered executives, it’s not the politicians, and it’s not me. It’s the family members who pull out all of the stops to care for their loved ones. So what are some of the things that they to help themselves destress and care for themselves?

If you aren’t able to have someone stand in your shoes for a few days while you recharge, here are some other ideas!

Make Music: Of course, I would list making music. Sitting and playing an instrument or singing a song just for you can bring about so much relief. It’s yours, you are in control, and it serves no one else. If you don’t play anything, listen to some of your favorite tunes and dance, sing,or just relax.

Do What You Want to Do For a Period of Time: Do you have an hour? half an hour? fifteen minutes? Make that “You Time”. Read a book, go for a run, work out, cook your favorite dish, drink a glass of wine, throw a rope up in a tree and climb and rappel (that’s my husband’s).

Talk To Someone: Non music therapists are great people as well! Having help processing the complicated feelings you endure every day can help you to manage your stress, as well as minimize the likelihood of you having your own stress related illness.

Attend Support Groups: Family Connection of SC has monthly meetings for a range of diagnoses. It’s a great opportunity for caregivers to sit down, talk about their issues, and maybe even get some solutions. The solidarity in the room is fantastic, and is a great reminder that no one is alone in the world.

What are some of the things that you do for your own self care? Help me add to my list1