AUTISTIC NICK GETS STRESSED AND HOW I DEALT WITH IT
This week I became very, very stressed so much so that I excused myself from the stressful situation and then began the process of de stressing myself.
Stress is part of everyday life and a natural reaction to change and adjustment with a major life change. Stress also occurs in response to ongoing daily hassles such as traffic, noise, or inconsiderate people. The body responds to stress with the ‘flight or fight’ response in the central and peripheral nervous system. This involves a series of chemical changes which prepare people for a stressful event.
We all suffer stress, to different degrees and levels of severity and we all get anxious sometimes.
How people with Autism deal with stress can vary on the person but when they do realise that they are stressed what can they or you do to take positive steps to relieve this.
UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING STRESS
The first step a person can take to reduce stress is to become aware of the major sources, or triggers, of stress in your life.
It can help to keep a stress awareness diary for a few weeks that lists the date, time, event, severity, symptoms, and coping strategies they used to ease the situation.
The second step is to categorise different stressful situations as follows:
Control – Uncontrollable
Important – Unimportant
This can help you to stand back from your situation in order to view it more clearly and objectively.
FOUR SKILLS FOR MANAGING STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
These are Awareness, Acceptance, Coping and Action skills. Some skills may be more useful in certain situations. Each skill may be explained better using a situation which a person may face in real life.
This is getting a clearer understanding of the situation and how it affects the person.
Acknowledging that you are getting stressed and being realistic about the effects that it is having on you e.g. what aspects are within your control and which are out of your control and then working out if these are or important/unimportant.
Preparing to cope with the stressful situation by learning various strategies. Identify what changes you can make to control the situation and reduce stress levels.
Actively making changes to counteract or reduce the level of stress.
So, if you are or ever have been stressed here then is a list of things that I do to de stress myself
Taking a nap
Listening to music
Go for a walk or exercise
Play solitaire on my I-pad
Going for a swim
I ignored most of the things on the above list, but I did nap immediately once I was home and I made the decision to turn off my phone, and step away from any electronic device. I found that this was the best decision for me to take as I took Friday night and all-day Saturday to fully de-stress myself.
I do feel annoyed at myself and here’s why, initially when this was all happening I became lost and my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember any of the steps that I needed to work through in order to achieve a calmer me.
Reflecting back on it, I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself, I should have breathed and just simply allowed myself time to think and to evaluate the situation and manage it better. But given this hit me hard and it was a build-up of environmental noises around me that lead me to finding myself in this stressful place on a hot Friday afternoon.
This video explains it very well from Aspergers from the Inside
The one important thing that I should have attempted to do, but due to being caught up in the stress bubble I was in was this.
Slow Breathing Techniques
Proper breathing habits are essential for good mental and physical health. First, a person needs to focus upon their breathing pattern.
They need to identify whether they breathe mainly through the chest or through their stomach. Short, shallow, and rapid breaths from the upper chest should be avoided.
The aim is to breathe deeply and slowly through the nose.
A person should feel greater movement in the stomach than the chest as they inhale and exhale. Practice breathing exercises every day. Learn to apply slow breathing as needed e.g. when feeling stressed, angry, or anxious.
Get yourself into a relaxed state, by:
- Getting comfortable, scanning the body for tension, and relaxing the muscles
- Selecting a favourite peaceful place which is real or imagined
- Focusing the imagination using all 5 senses
- Using affirmations such as repeating ‘I am letting go of tension’; or ‘I am feeling peaceful’.
When supporting somebody who is Autistic and stressed, keep calm and quiet. Be a consistent, safe presence to help the person with autism feel they can begin to relax. Try to avoid showing that you are worried as this may make them feel less secure and more anxious.
Ensure that the person you are supporting has an appropriate communication system in place and that they are able to use it properly. This will help them to express themselves and their frustrations and anxieties.
If a person has a particular “stim” or repetitive movement that helps them to feel calm then you should support them in this. “Stimming” can be a coping mechanism and may be a sign that the person is attempting to self-soothe.
Sometimes distraction can be a helpful technique. You may be able to remove a person from a stressful situation for long enough for them to recharge and return.
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
How do you cope with stress?
What techniques work for you?
Let me know in the comments section below
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.