Anxiety in Autistic Adults
Anxiety can happen for a range of reasons and Autistic people can vary in their ability to cope with it.
Understanding your emotions can be difficult. But by getting help from someone so that you can understand your anxiety, you can then be in a position to manage it better.
Anxiety doesn’t just affect the mind but it can also directly affect the body as well. The psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety are closely linked and this can lead to a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break.
Some of the psychological symptoms of anxiety are, easily losing patience, having difficulty concentrating, thinking constantly about the worst outcome, difficulty sleeping and depression.
By contrast some of the physical symptoms can include but are not limited to, excessive thirst, stomach upsets, loose bowel movements, frequent urinating (going to the loo), periods of intensely pounding heart, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, pins and needles and tremors.
So if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and after a consultation with your doctor what’s the next step?
How do you now manage your anxiety?
Well in the next section of this blog post I’ll tell you
Strategies for managing your anxiety
Once you have understood and acknowledged that you have anxiety, the next step is to begin to identify what triggers, and situations are the root cause of your anxiety. This is where keeping a diary can be an extremely useful tool.
By keeping a diary and writing down exactly how you felt during a certain situation this should enable you to see the following;
What was the trigger?
What was the situation?
The time and the date?
Did I alert someone that I was feeling anxious?
What steps did they take?
What steps did I take?
What did I do to resolve the situation?
What can I do to prevent myself from becoming anxious the next time I am out in a social situation?
How anxious did I feel on a scale from 1-10?
Was I with my carer or was I with a group of friends?
Have I informed them that I have anxiety, did they know what steps to take?
You can modify the above to best suit your current situation. The biggest benefit of keeping a diary is that you can use this as a reference tool and this will assist in you managing your anxiety better.
Another step to take and one that I find particularly useful to have in place is an anxiety plan.
What’s an anxiety plan you may well ask?
Well an anxiety plan is a list of things and situations that cause anxiety but includes solutions and strategies that you can use to help them manage your anxiety levels. This plan can be adapted, depending upon how well someone understands anxiety.
Here’s an example:
Situation – Going on the bus
Anxiety symptoms – Heart beats fast; sweat and feel sick
Solution – Have stress ball in pocket, squeeze the ball and take deep breaths, or listen to music.
Relaxation is another technique that can be used to eliminate unwanted stress as Autistic people can find it hard to relax.
By installing relaxation into your daily routine it can aid you in managing your anxiety and release tension.
Some examples of how to relax could be using deep breathing exercises, doing yoga, going for a walk, taking a bath, listening to relaxing music, aromatherapy, playing on a computer may also help reduce anxiety.
You could use a visual timetable, to help remind that person that say at a certain time during the day that they take a break from whatever activity they are doing and select one of their calming activities. Place it somewhere where they can see it and have them decorate and personalise it.
The biggest step in all this is the scariest and most confronting.
Actually talking about it!!!!!!
Yep you really do have to achieve this step!!!
Take some deep breaths and let’s begin our working on a plan of action ok?
Great let’s get started.
Some people find direct confrontation difficult. They may therefore be unable to say they don’t like certain things or situations, which will raise their anxiety levels.
Other options you could try are reaching out to other Autism support groups for advice, seeking professional help from a psychologist or physiatrist is another resource to look into.
You can search for a psychologist here https://www.psychology.org.au/Find-a-Psychologist
Or you can see a physiatrist here https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/find-a-psychiatrist
Carry on the Conversation
How do you personally combat your anxiety? Can you pass on any hints and tips?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the Autistic Nick https://www.facebook.com/autisticnick9/ Facebook page
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.