Lesson 3

Stress – the need and the overkill

Stress is a very usefull process for our bodies. We need some basic level of stress in order to function:

  • Anti-inflamation system of your body
  • Natural painkillers (adrenaline)
  • Extra (short term) energy and power, necessary in certain situations

 

The overkill of stress

  • Daily stress (input of information, ideas, sensory input, which we have all to process, and which we cannot process automatically, we have to process these inputs step by step, so an overload of information leads to a shut down
  • Structural stress (the one which you should avoid!), expectations, the school and working system, no time or room to be on oneselves, always people and sounds, and lights, and information, and things we HAVE TO do.

 

The amygdala (and why stress-reaction are so common within people with autism and our notorious tantrums)

  • Flight (our so well known anxiety attacks)
  • Fight-reaction (and our notorious tantrums)
  • Freeze (and our reputation of turning into ourselves)

 

We, people with autisme, have an extreme high risk to get a burn-out (because of our natural constitution in relation to stress. More about this topic is written in the chapter ‘Thoughts’.

 

How to find your personal balance?

Finding our personal balance is NOT just banning all stress-situation from our lifes. Finding our personal balance is:

  1. Training ourselves to handle stress-situations is an healthy way, so we are able to manage some basic level of stress (which is probably lower than the usual stress-levels non-autistics can handle, but still, hopefully, not very close to zero)
  2. Training ourselves to know what stress-levels we can handle, and when we have to take some rest, on beforehand, whithout getting a meltdown
  3. ‘Pump up the volume’, by daily moments of rest and recovery. When we learn how to recover from former stress-moments on the day, we might be able to manage more stress-factors on one and the same day (week, month)
  4. Knowing ourselves, knowing which sorts of stress we have to lose, and which sorts of stress are not so very harmful as others. These differ from person to person. Therefore it is important to make a personal

 

It takes more time to recover than it took to build up the stress level (so, plan more time to recover!!!)

Building up stress-levels and how to recover is personal. Not every ‘stress-activity’ adds to your stress level, and not every relaxation-exercize is automatically part of your recovery. E.g. ….

There is a huge difference between relaxation and recovery. What exactly is the difference? And why should it be mentioned here?

 

Reduce the stress:

 

-by diminishing the things we HAVE to do

  • By creating more overview (in our home, our work, our agenda, our social contacts, etc)
  • BY creating helpfull routines (see chapter routines)
  • By diminishing stressfull thoughts/by building up more self-esteem
  • By skipping stressfull activities in our lives…
  • By solving your problems in an accurate way
  • By avoiding problems/conflicts
  • By avoiding procrastination
  • By building up more self-esteem and self-compassion