AUTISTIC NICK’S MIXED EMOTIONS
A few weeks’s ago I had reached my 260th blog post and I was feeling overjoyed with myself along with a lot of other emotions.
Then today on the 25th July I am writing my 261 blog post.
And I feel guilty.
And you may be asking youself why?
I have written 260 blog posts on a wide range of topics linked to me and my Autism,
But after the 260th one I needed I think a break but..
I didn’t realise it.
So a week or so passed and then the dreaded guilt began to circle like a vulture and words start to whirl around inside my head.
Like why haven’t you written anything?
You are running out of time.
It’ll soon be Monday and you won’t have a post.
Come on Nick, it’s getting late you need to hurry up it’s 8.30pm at night.
Then came the doubt.
No one will care if you don’t get a post out in time.
It won’t be the headline news of the day.
No one is sitting there waiting for your posts to come out and then when it doesn’t is logging into the comments section and blasting you for not writing something.
Then I got sick.
I had by the end of the first day nearly lost my voice, produced a lot of phlegm and coughed until my throat hurt.
Then came the sleeping.
I didn’t check emails, my phone, text messages or anything.
Although I did have a nagging voice inside my head saying words and phrases to me.
One such phrase was “why don’t you issue an apology”!!!
Like what I heard myself ask?
Like when a celebratory makes a shocking comment or someone YouTuber where by they start the video by saying,
“Guys I am making this video to address something…”
Don’t worry I wasn’t about to become one of those wankers who actually does that type of thing.
I think all of what was happening to me was to do with being sick, as well as my body telling me to take a break.
I am under no deadline with this blogging.
I don’t have a banner under its name saying “Each Monday a new blog post will magically appear, freshly written for you to all read.”
I mean it couldn’t say all of that there just isn’t the room for all of those words!
So I rested, I took cough syrup, I slept, I did as little as possible.
And now by today I am rested.
I am not going to put myself under that extreme amount of pressure again.
But that is easier said than done, because the next time it could easily happen.
But I think I will be prepared and possibly remember the signs!
WHAT SHOULD I HAVE DONE?
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.
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.