Many autistic people are feeling overwhelmed during Covid-19. I hope this blog can offer some remedies to ease anxiety.
By Aaron Bouma
Autistic people are susceptible to feeling overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can manifest itself in numerous ways.
What do you do to calm yourself when you are overwhelmed?
I will sometimes go off on my own and think and talk to myself about my feelings. If you do the same I totally understand. 🙂 Some autistics have meltdowns, some have what we call shutouts, or shutdowns where we don’t say anything at all.
For autistic people with higher support needs it’s important for the caregiver to understand how feeling overwhelmed manifests, especially if the person is non-speaking. The non-speaking person may be frustrated that they cannot express how they are feeling and sometimes they may have trouble identifying what is causing their feelings of anxiety.
During this difficult time I worry about autistic people’s mental health and the overwhelming effects Covid-19 has on rituals and daily routines. This blog post will offer 8 ways to cope with geeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Here is my list of eight suggestions:
Drink more water. Some people over drink caffeine when stressed. When dealing with anxiety, negative chemicals build up in your body creating negative energy and health issues. Drinking more water will help wash that out. It will diminish the buildup by washing out negative chemicals. When feeling stressed, try drinking an 8 ounce glass of water and see if it doesn’t make you feel better.
Seek counseling services. Many Autistics are turned away from getting counseling because many mental health professionals are not trained in how the autistic brain works. If you can get a good counselor, I hope they can help you!
Exercise. For me, exercise works. I’m very active and work out at least 4-5 days a week. For many people starting can be hard … each to his or her own. Once you get going, I can guarantee you will feel better, more refreshed. Certainly after a workout or run, you will feel better. Endorphins created through exercise release dopamine in the brain; it causes a post workout high. Not only is it good for you, it is very helpful to calm you and refresh your mind.
Herbal remedies can be helpful as well. But be very careful what you take, especially if you have allergies. I have been trying Holy Basel. Sometimes you have to take 1 a day for it to be effective. If you are already on medication, you need to make sure it doesn’t interfere with what you are taking, that can affect your mood or effect anxiety or other aspects that medication is taken for. (Editor’s Note: The Art of Autism recommends talking to your health professional before taking herbs).
Find a quiet place to calm yourself. A calm and quiet environment can be soothing and calming. Sometimes Autistics need more space at certain times. Being overwhelmed can be more internal or have more external feelings and visual effects. Being overwhelmed can also come from sensory issues, such as loud noise, background noise, lights, crowds, or multiple things. That’s why it’s appropriate to be accommodating to Autistics needs at work places and conferences. A quiet space is a simple accommodation.
Get regular and enough sleep. Sleep is very important. Sleep counteracts the effects of anxiety.
Concentrate on special interests. Some of us, as you probably know, have very keen interests in preferred subjects. Mine is the military and military history. Being overwhelmed with the world and so much going on can lead to burnout. Autistic burnout effects us differently, in a number of ways. From sleeping habits to memory, to focus. Sometimes it’s just good to get away from the world, turn off the phone and escape, dive into a new book or go for a walk or run. I will go to the shop and work on a model. See my previous Art of Autism blog post: Autistic model creater has a mind like a 3-D printer.
Stimming is a common soother for Autistic people. Some Autistics grow out of they’re stims and some stims change with age. Yes, there are some stims which are harmful. But as long as it’s a safe stim, and it’s calming, don’t be ashamed of doing it. Don’t be worried about what people think of it. Stimming is a lot of times considered a coping mechanism, so when some are excited they do it, some do it when they are thinking.
I hope these tips help you. I know we are all struggling, some more than others. That also includes some of us who are out of work with the current situation. Remember, this will eventually end.
We are all…..In this together.
I was born in Woodstock NB Canada, I was diagnosed with Autism at 3 and Aspergers at 12. My business page is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BOUMAWOODWORKS/ as well as Instagram. https://instagram.com/boumawoodworks?igshid=tmemj7m2l13k