Category Archives: Aspies and Anxiety

Aspies: Ten Ways Volunteering Can Help Us Learn to Adapt.

When someone else changes plans which also affect us, as Aspies we may become temporarily stuck in a “this is unacceptable!” zone.  How can we become more adaptable?

What activities or new experiences may best help us handle change so that we might adapt to other’s needs and acquire a healthier focus; one which does not lead us to a feeling of dread when we must deal with a changed agenda?

Save The Children’s Marc and Craig Kielburger give a possible solution in a recent newspaper article*:

“Youth who volunteer through our service programs…are more comfortable adapting to change…”

Renowned for creating the Save The Children Foundation as a young teen in high school, Craig Kielburger still operates the organization that was originally entirely run by and for children.

In their article, the Kielburger brothers note the following ten ways in whiuch volunteering helps teenagers adjust to school and other stresses, including aversion to change:

  1. When you do something for others, your stress levels are reduced.  This is proven by research**.

  2. Volunteering may give you an alternative social scene, in which you can find a sense of community and belonging.

  3. Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about will connect you with mentors who have similar interests.

  4. Helping others puts your focus outside of yourself, encouaging you to see your own situation in a different and possibly more positive light.

  5. Volunteering broadens your outlook.  Your own problems may seem far less significant when you come face to face with the plight of others.

  6. Seeing other’s problems, Kielburger says, can help you build both perspective and empathy.  Kielburger also notes that doctors state that empathy is a powerful antidote to stress.

  7. As a Volunteer you enjoy increased self-esteen.  According to research done within the Foundation, volunteers for Save The Children are 1.3 times more likely to “have a strong sense of self”.

  8. The kind of stress found in volunteering — that is, helping others with their problems — can be an opportunity to overcome challenges, to build resiliency and to develop self-esteem.

  9. Volunteering can build leadership skills.

  10. Volunteering helps develop a  life – long habit of giving back.

Find a cause you are passionate about, Aspies and get involved!

Maybe sorting clothes at the local hospice society thrift shop won’t do it for you, but perhaps volunteering in a Wildlife Preservation Society or starting up a chapter of Save the Children will.

Whatever you choose, if you give it your all you will find yourself thinking about situations, people and places beyond your own inner world.  Go for it. And, most importantly, enjoy!

*According to an independent study by research firm Mission Measurement.

**See:  https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies: Back to School Stress: What helps?

School is a stressor for most of us.  While we love the learning, many of us suffer through the social aspects of every class from kindergarten to university.  A recent survey shows that 25 per cent of new high school students will rate their anxiety level at seven out of ten*.  Here are some ways to deal with that discomfort whether you’re starting high school, middle school, university or college.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the geography of your school, especially if it’s new to you. Where are the washrooms?  The lockers?  The labs?  What is the shortest route to take between classes? With your class schedule in hand, do a practice run from room to room to see where you’ll need more time to make the change.  Many schools have portables; do you know which portable your class is in?  How long will it take you to get from the main building to that class? Even if you attended the same school last year and the year before, chances are you’ll have some classes in new locations.  Knowing where you’re going and how to get there will give you a sense of confidence even before the class begins.

  2.  Check your supplies and organize them for easy access.  If you’re still using handwritten notes in a note book, keep the subjects separate, and the notebooks with the applicable texts.  Being organized means less time spent hunting down materials which means ultimately, less time spent on homework.  Who’s going to argue that?  One website, https://www.verywell.com/top-school-stress-relievers-for-students-3145179 has more suggestions for organizing and utilizing your study space.

  3. Always write assignments in one place.  This could be the notes app on your cell phone or lap top or at the end of your class notes.  Just be sure they are easily accessed and you won’t have to rack your brain about what assignments are due tomorrow.  For tips on how to organize your homework/study area and how to approach homework and studying, getting those assignments done and done well see this article at PsychCentral.com: https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/

  4. Study regularly; don’t just cram before a test.  Cramming seldom works.  Regularly familiarizing yourself with the information is the most helpful way of learning.  Talk about what you’re studying with someone else who is truly interested.  If you can help someone else learn, you’ll remember it far better at exam time.  For some excellent study tips try this website:  http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/studying-training/studying-tips-resources/top-10-study-tips

  5. Learn to destress yourself.  At Wellcast’s website, you can learn 100 wellness techniques in 100 days.  This URL will take you to the one on meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWIFMfEgc8A

So head back to school with confidence and determination, visualizing a successful year.

Using these tips will help you do just that.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

*McGill University Research conducted by Dr. Nancy Heath.

 

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Aspies Relax? How a Neurodivergent Rebel Learned to Meditate.

Apparently many people have issues with relaxation.  This week’s post is a reblog from a writer who goes by the moniker “Neurodivergent Rebel”:

TO EVERYONE WHO “CAN’T MEDITATE”

Mindfulness and meditation have been a big part of my life for several years now. I’m always happy to share with people how helpful meditation is for me.

Unfortunately almost everyone I talk to about meditation “can’t meditate”.

“I wish I could meditate. My mind isn’t made for that!” or “I can’t stand being still”, a few of the most common excuses why people tell me they “can’t meditate”.

People assume meditation was always easy for me, while in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

I started meditation because of a deep internal need for change.

My twenty-fifth birthday was coming at me like an out of control locomotive with a sleeping driver. The number made me uneasy and it was coming too fast. Like a doe, hypnotized by the headlights, I felt helpless to stop it.

Something was wrong, missing, empty and completely inexpressible. I’d been searching my entire life for something. . . peace, stillness, answers, meaning maybe?

In my mid to early twenties, I was very out of touch with my own feelings and emotions.

At first, my meditations were distracted, plagued with racing, unwanted, thoughts. When the goal was to count to five without allowing your mind to wander off, sometimes I only got to two or three before starting over, and over, and over.

It was hard, but as I kept on it things got easier.

Finally, with Buddhism, I was beginning to unlock the tools needed to understand and shape my own mind. Somedays progress crawled along at what felt like a snail’s pace, but every week as I continued to practice it got easier.

As I’ve grown older and incorporated mindfulness into my life over the years, things have greatly improved. I still meditate every day but the way I meditate has changed.

I meditate all the time. At times I may meditate for only a few minutes or seconds, whenever I need to calm and relax my mind, think more clearly, or gather the words for an important conversation.

Meditation has become the tool that I use to recalibrate my brain. Sitting tall I close my eyes and bow my head as I take in a deep, slow breath. As I breathe in I focus on the feelings of my feet on the ground or my butt in a chair (depending on where I am).

As my lungs expand I shift my focus to the feelings of my breath. With eyes closed, I listen and feel, asking myself – “what’s happening now?” Depending on available time I may stay for a while, eyes closed, nose pointed at the floor.

This micro-meditations can be as quick as a few breaths. I’ve even learned to meditate with my eyes open, although I wonder if I have a blank stare when I do this.

I take the time that I need and if I get flustered I remind myself not to rush, gently whispering in my own ear “relax, stay in the present”.

Every day I am needing to remind myself less and less, thanks to a very conscious choice I made years ago to change my life.

Dear people who “can’t meditate” – keep trying.

For more great posts from Neurodivergent Rebel go to: https://neurodivergentrebel.com/

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Poetry For Troubled Minds: Aspies Take Courage.

This challenging and inspiring poem was written byAJH who also goes by the monikers”Beautifully Bipolar” and “notmydisability”.

Alex has a lot to say about issues around not being people’s notion of normal.

She sent me this poem with permission to use it on my site.  I have taken the liberty of titling it:

SOMETIMES

Sometimes, I want to end it. I want to undo the world, untie the knots in my brain. Make things better when I know that won’t happen. Change my past doings when I know it is not possible.

Sometimes, I hate myself. My skin is my worst enemy. My heart is an evil force. My thoughts are both my best friend and biggest defeater.

Sometimes, I don’t want to do this. Going on would be harder than just going to live with the stars. The stars are beautiful. Why can’t I be the same?

Sometimes, I get scared. Make that all the time. Fear attacks me, swallows me in. I am one with the anxiety but it is slowly taking over.

Sometimes, I am dangerous. I am like chemicals and matches. If you mix up everything inside of me, I’ll explode. Boom. Crash. Die.

But….

Sometimes, I gain courage. I talk to someone new. Smile at a stranger. Decide to make myself happy.

Sometimes, I love myself. Looking in the mirror isn’t as bad. Clothes feel right. People’s eyes don’t bother me. If someone stares, I’ll think maybe they actually like me.

Sometimes, I take a new step. Jump outside of the world I have created for myself. Outer space isn’t such a bad place, when it makes you feel weightless.

Sometimes, I am not heavy. My shoulders are not dragged down. My face is not a constant straight line. There are no weights on my feet, telling me to stay put.

Sometimes, I am me. I break the mirror showing me my flaws, and look out a window that shows me the good things. Beauty, love, and hope are present, and I am too.

 

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Aspies: Five Ways To Lower Anxiety

What is the difference between anxiety and fear?  I’ve heard it said that fear is a specific dread–for instance, you might be afraid of the man next door because you have heard he’s a pervert or because he always looks angry.

Anxiety on the other hand is the dread you experience but can’t explain.  You might be having fearful feelings but not be able to say why.  This is very challenging because not knowing where the fear comes from, means you have no way to face down the fear.

But relax.  There is help.  And I know we’ve talked about this before, but with more than fifty percent of 100,000 college students rating anxiety as their biggest issue when visiting a campus clinic, and the Canadian Anxiety Disorder Association stating that anxiety is now the number one mental health problem in Canada, this information bears repeating.

So here is help:  Five ways to fight anxiety and come out a winner.

  1. At the end of each day, think of three things that went right.  Focus your thoughts on those incidents.  Did you hand a report in, and get a good mark?  Did someone compliment you?  Did you finally make that phone call you’ve been dreading to make? Did you balance your budget?  Smile at someone who smiled back at you?  How did you make that happen?

  2. Be grateful.  Think about something you have–your health, your living space, your cat,–and be thankful for it.  It can be something as simple as a beautiful day, or rain for your garden or the sun on your face.  Feeling and expressing gratitude leads to reduced anxiety.

  3. Be kind.  Doing a good deed doesn’t just lift the spirits of the recipient of your kindness; it somehow magically transforms something inside of us to a good emotion.  And here’s the great thing–it doesn’t matter if you save someone from getting hit by a train (very anxiety producing in itself!) or if you just say hello to the lonely senior living down the street–it’s all powerful anti-anxiety medicine..

  4. Volunteer: think of some charity you’d like to lend a helping hand to, then go and sign up as a volunteer.  You’ll meet people with similar interests, see that you are better off than some people, and possibly make new friends.  At the very least you’ll have social contact and feel productive.

  5. Be compassionate to yourself.  Forgive yourself your blunders. Tell yourself you’ve learned something from that embarrassing situation and will do better next time.  try to see the humour in it, and understand that you are loveable, you are unique and you are worthy of happiness.

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