6 Self-Care Tips for People on the Autism Spectrum
To fellow people on the autism spectrum, I want to share my self-care tips to hopefully allow you to pamper and care for the wonderful person you are!
1) Think about or write down something positive about yourself every day.
I’ve heard many doubts about the way I conduct myself, my personality and my intelligence over my 23 years of life, and at times it has really gotten me down and made me doubt and question myself. A few weeks ago I’ve started to think about something that I’m good at and/or something that is good about me every day, and I’ve noticed a improvement in how I see myself. Try doing the same, and even include something you’ve done well at throughout the day or a challenge you’ve overcome.
2) Give yourself some time alone.
I like time to myself as constantly socializing and talking is exhausting. Despite the seemingly constant pressure to “be social,” you are allowed to be alone and enjoy your company, for example once you get home from work. Give yourself time to read a book, look up videos of whatever you enjoy, listen to music, enjoy the silence, take a nice warm bath or whatever you like to do. You’ll find you might feel refreshed and relaxed afterwards, ready to continue on with things.
3) Engage the senses.
Some of us on the spectrum find particular textures/senses rather pleasant such as feathers (touch), a lavender candle (smell) or the sound of the wind whistling through the trees. Allow yourself to experience whatever your senses desire! When I do this I feel calm, soothed and content, especially if I do it during times of distress.
4) Practice what interests you.
I’m a big music enthusiast and I thoroughly enjoy researching and listening to music, so when I get the opportunity I put on my headphones and engage in musical bliss. This helps my mental health by keeping me engaged and my mind active. It also helps me as I’m doing what interests me and getting pleasure out of it. Take the time to do whatever you like to do, be it building model planes, reading about the planet, building and putting together a computer, learning history or whatever you enjoy!
5) Allow yourself to feel how you feel.
Oh boy, do I get frustrated with some of the experiences I have! For example, over the past few months I’ve had the following said to me:
- “I’d honestly hate to have autism as I see how much you struggle with it!” — I don’t struggle with autism, I struggle with ignorance and the unaccommodating world around me.
- “You need to come off the medication as you’ve changed and you’re becoming addicted to it and you just need to socialize more and overcome your challenges.” — This was said by someone who was not a medical professional, who wouldn’t take into account I was changing because I was struggling with a recent death. This wasn’t the cause to them, it was those “damn evil pills!”
- “Why are you looking into autism so much? You’re so high-functioning, there’s no need to!” — When I basically said “what the f*ck?” back, they replied with “Well don’t get shi**y when you ask for my opinion!”
After hearing those I felt immense rage, sadness, annoyance and confusion. I felt I was expected to overcome these feelings without complaint and accept what was stated as fact. When I allowed myself to feel the emotions, the weight began to lift off my shoulders and I could begin to process to the best of my ability what was said and how foolish I felt it was. If you’ve had some people say or do some unpleasant things towards you, try to allow yourself to feel those feelings as bottling them up can do more harm then good.
6) Realize how good you are.
This one is hard at times as I hear the bad things about me and my autism a fair bit. But recently I’ve been focusing on my strengths — sometimes easier said than done, I’ll admit! I’m very knowledgeable about certain genres of music, I’m a good listener, I have a vivid and bright imagination and I like to see things out of the ordinary scope. Maybe try it for yourself? You could be a brilliant talker, someone who has a brilliant sharp memory or anything! This takes practice, but hopefully you’ll see the benefits for yourself. You are a good person!
Getty image by Marcin Wiklik.