The older I get, the more I try to create a calm space for myself. Stress isn’t good for anyone, but particularly for autistics. The world generally causes us massive amounts of stress just being the way it is.
Home is my safe zone. And I’ve gone out of my way to try to create an environment that causes me the least amount of stress. My spouse has been really helpful and supportive in my need for calm and quiet.
Here’s what makes up my happy space on particularly stressful days:
Noise-cancelling headphones (a new addition that has done wonders for my stress).
Fleece blankets – we have six in our bedroom.
A scent I enjoy. Two of my absolute favourites are black cherry and strawberry lemonade.
A TV show. It’s usually As Time Goes By or Bake Off. Both are shows that I find incredibly relaxing.
Those are all things that help me cope on rough days.
I tried to write a definition for executive dysfunction from my perspective but the words kept getting all bungled up. So I’m including a video below by one of my favourite autistic YouTubers that does a better job than I could.
A brilliant YouTube video that goes into what executive dysfunction.
For me executive dysfunction is something that makes my life incredibly difficult. It makes meeting deadlines tough. The older I get, the more I’ve had to find ways to work around it/with it.
So, here are a few of my personal life hacks for dealing with days when executive dysfunction is being particularly difficult.
I think about the first 3 tasks I need to accomplish at the start of a day the night before (and also when I wake up. For example, I need to walk the dog, clean the downstairs bathroom, and have breakfast. If nothing else, I find it helps me focus on three things I can get done early.
Cooking. Keep it simple. I pick recipes that don’t have a million steps. If a recipe has too many steps or too many words, I get lost and don’t want to do it.
Accepting that some days I just can’t. It doesn’t make me lazy. It doesn’t mean I’m worthless. I’m just having a rough day. I can try again the next day.
Have a cleaning routine. I used to try to accomplish everything on the weekend. It often failed miserably. Now? I have a list of ‘daily tasks,’ I do one each day. I also have a list of more in-depth cleaning that I do across three months in autumn and again in spring. Even on rough days, I can usually manage one cleaning tasks (or one room.)
Finding the right level of distraction. I need white noise to accomplish stuff, otherwise the silence is too loud and distracting. I usually put on music or a TV show/movie that I’ve seen before.
What about you?
Do you deal with executive dysfunction? What are ways you’ve learned to help yourself?
At the time of writing this post, I’m about eight days into my 100 Days of Writing Challenge. The goal? Write 30 minutes every day for 100 days. So far, so good.
Day one through six felt like a dream. Words flowed easily. Blog posts, emails, newsletters, and several chapters in my current WIP.
And then, day seven.
Day seven was a bastard. My executive dysfunction flared its evil head. And as a result, I found myself staring blankly at my computer for hours on end. I somehow still managed two minutes, barely, but it wasn’t my best work.
Day eight was more of the same. This post actually counted for ten of my thirty minutes. The power of this challenge is I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.
Even on a bad mental health day, I can eke out at least ten minutes or even twenty.
And as an added bonus, eking out those ten-minute sprints help me feel as though I’ve accomplished something, which in turn boosts my spirits on days like today.
So, eight days in, this challenge feels perfect for me.
Less stressful than NaNoWriMo, which usually leaves me feeling like a wrung out dishrag. I feel energized. And I’m writing.
Have you ever done a 100 or 365-day challenge? How did it go for you?