After months of on-again, off-again lockdowns, full of new challenges and changes to our lives, it is safe to say many of us will have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions over the past 12 months. Managing those feelings when you have autism can be even more difficult.
Anxiety and Autism
Many people with autism also experience consistent anxiety, which can be distressing. Triggers for this anxiety can vary for each person, but this constant state of distress means a person with autism can become overwhelmed more easily than a person without autism.
Our teams have been working to support people to learn how to manage their stress and anxiety and channeling these feelings into positive actions. Learning to reach for the ‘Positive Toolbox’ during times of distress will help to create a routine for the person, helping them to know exactly what will happen next, ultimately reducing their anxiety.
Recently our team supported Matt and Billy to develop a 'Positive Toolbox' to help them to direct their feelings of stress into positive actions and feel in control of their emotions, especially during low moments.
By sharing activities that made them happy, Matt and Billy were able to work alongside our team to develop their own personal 'tool box' of ideas and actions to reach for when they feel stressed, anxious or upset.
How to develop a 'Positive Tool Box'
- Take a moment to think about what makes you or someone you are supporting happy. This might be chatting to a loved one, taking a walk outside, listening to music or holding an item that means a lot to you/them
- Does this activity help you, or someone you are supporting, feel calm?
- Think about a time where you or the person you are supporting may have felt stressed or upset, what made you/them feel better?
- Note down these activities and keep them somewhere where you or the person can access these activities easily. You could have the list printed out and displayed on your fridge or you could print them onto a small card for you, or the person to carry with them.
When can you use your 'Positive Tool Box'?
- When you or the person you are supporting feels upset, stressed or anxious
- When you or the person you are supporting feels calm
- Use to help yourself or the person you are supporting step away from a negative situation and create space for reflection
Matt and Billy's Positive Tool Box
- Cut the grass, or any outdoor activity
- Take a walk outside to get some fresh air
- Read a book
- Listen to music (quiet music to calm and loud music to motivate)
- Have a nice shower or a bath
- Do yoga or a form of exercise
- Watch TV
- Sit or lay in a quiet space
- Play a sport or watch sport
- Play with, or look after a pet
- Eat a comforting snack (squash and toast/cheese/tea and biscuits)
- Get in touch with a friend (phone, FaceTime or visit them when you can)