She realized how stressful answering phones for her husband’s business during a particularly busy season would be.
She tells what happened as she journeyed through a day full of appointments and phone calls.
I felt a bit rushed, but fine. I felt like I was a bit uncomfortable, but could manage. Then, I backed into a car leaving an appointment. I didn’t see him there, but it was just a superficial bump. All is good. I head to my next stops, and head home. I start not to be able to remember the phone calls I made this morning. Who did I say what to? Never mind, I will remember later. I head out to take the dog to his obedience class. Crossing an intersection I bump another car. This was almost a big accident. I should have not done this. This is my brain malfunctioning.
I forgot the rule of how my brain works. If I push myself beyond my limits, my brain will start regulating itself to conserve energy. If I am out of “spoons” as most say, my brain will start shutting down.
Here’s a powerful video that illustrates some of the stress that sensory overload can bring.
Sensory Overwhelm, Stress, and The Autism Spectrum: Video
Stress, for a person on the autism spectrum, is a way of life. Living in a neurotypical world brings a set of stress and challenges even on one’s best days. If we add all the other life stressors that can occur in life, life can fall apart rather quickly.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of stress
Even more difficulty than usual relating to others
People With Aspergers Deal With Extra Stress
People with Aspergers process information differently than the average person. Their “operating systems" are different from the average person’s, leading to challenges with social situations, rejection by others, and difficulties handling organizing and planning in everyday life.
Understand the different life events that can increase your stress.
Dr. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to better understand stress and it’s impact on illness. Many times we have a number of life events causing stress, but we’re not even aware they’re going on.
Here’s the link to their stress scale on Wikipedia so that you can better check your own current life events for possible stress.
And here’s a stress quiz you can take to check your current levels of stress.
Identify Your Hobbies and Interests
Pay attention to what you enjoy learning and doing.
I regularly run and read for fun and enjoyment. I notice I like learning about internet marketing, nutrition and meditation, but I don’t always make the time for those hobbies/interests.
Here’s a free worksheet that can help you start learning more about what you do for pleasure or get a sense of achievement from.
One Aspergers blogger recommended spending time on one’s special interest/s, but warned against hyper focusing. In other words, set a time limit so that your hobby or interest doesn’t consume your entire day, resulting in another meltdown.
Spend Time Alone
Many people on the autism spectrum report that alone time re-energizes them. Go for a walk in nature, or spend some time gardening, or with your pet, if you have one. All these things can have a calming effect.
Use Sensory Integration Techniques to Regulate Yourself
You may want to consider physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. A physical therapist or occupational therapist specializing in autism spectrum conditions may be able to design individualized sensory strategies to help you de-stress from sensory overload.
Figure out what kind of exercise you like best. I love running. Other people hate running, but love swimming or lifting weights. Or a combination of the above.
According to WebMD, being physically active should be part of depression treatment. All depression starts with stress, so start exercising today!
Pay attention to what you eat. People on the spectrum often struggle with diet. That doesn’t mean you can’t gradually introduce foods you can tolerate into your eating plan. Nutritious food is some of the best medicine for your bodies. And the right foods fight stress and disease. I make a green smoothie every day in my Vitamix blender to get super nutrients into my system. You may not like smoothies, or the color green. In that case, explore supplements you can take, or go to a dietician to find out what works for you.
I’m wrapping this article up with some wise words from Inner Aspie. She shared how she has learned to deal with stress and overwhelm –
I think that we can learn to read our own bodies, and our own emotional states enough to know when we’re heading into troubled waters, and have a set strategy in place to deal with those times. Like, knowing what it feels like to feel overwhelmed, and taking it back one step to almost overwhelmed, being able to know what that point feels like, sense it on our bodies, and have a plan of action for coping.
How Do You Deal With Stress? Please share you coping strategies and tips below!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."