Coping with Change in Light of Covid-19 Crisis
There are many routine changes that are happening in the world, and everyone is likely to be impacted by this. The world right now is a different place for most of us.
General Advice For All
- It’s ok not to be ok just now. The sheer number of changes to regular routines is enormous for almost everyone. Change can be tricky at the best of times, and this is most definitely not the best of times.
- Mental health is vitally important. This will end, but it may take a long time, and the world is unlikely to be the same again afterwards. Ensuring you are prioritising your mental health is important.
- Stay connected. Many autistic people may be friendly, but not necessarily have many close friends. That may usually be enough social contact for some, and there are lots of reasons why some autistic people avoid developing friendships – but everyone needs some social contact. Whether that is from colleagues, talking to the check out person at the shop, or saying hi to neighbours as you go out, that all counts as social contact, and these things may be difficult to access.
Checking in with people you are friendly with and family members may not be enough, and if that is the case we would suggest joining in with activities and groups online. Finding people with whom you have common interests means you automatically have something to talk about. You may well find some others who are feeling isolated too.
- Indulge in special interests, and possibly find some new ones if you cannot access the old ones easily. Spending time doing something you love is good for your mental health.
- Where possible access nature. Getting some fresh air in a garden or even just a walk around the block can often leave you feeling less stressed.
- If you are living with others, it is ok to have some time alone in another room. Constant socialising with others can be really hard going, even when they are loved ones. Sometimes especially when they are loved ones! It is sensible to take some time to yourself. You are not a bad spouse, partner, flatmate, son, daughter or parent for needing time out.
- Monitor the social media you are using. Mute or unfollow people/pages that leave you feeling anxious.
- Find exercise you are comfortable with. Lots of autistic people have co-occurring conditions which may make exercise tricky (for example, fibromyalgia or EDS). There are lots of ways to keep active including free classes on line ( yoga classes), and you can always just do what you are comfortable with.
- Support your sensory needs. It may be harder to access favoured products like soap, laundry detergent and certain foods. If you or someone you are living with is struggling with these, that is only to be expected, and times of high stress can exacerbate sensory needs. If you cannot get the scented soap you usually have, try to find an unscented one instead. If your favourite pasta sauce is unavailable, try and find another that tastes similar enough, but have something as a back up in case it is not ok. If you are having to introduce new foods into your or a loved ones diet take it very gently and check our page on sensory issues around food for further guidance
Working from Home
Remember that you may not be able to do all of the tasks you were previously able to do, and some tasks may be trickier from home too. Where possible, the following should help:
- Stick to your usual routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time, eat lunch at the same time as far as possible. Clock off work at the same time too or try to work the same number of hours.
- That may not be possible if you have children in the house and you may have to change your normal working hours to fit in with the rest of the household. It is ok to have to do this. Discuss with your employer and remember you can take compassionate leave to help support struggling family members.
- Discuss sharing some of your normal duties with colleagues if needs be, especially if you are caring for children as well. Be compassionate towards colleagues who are juggling work and caring duties, they may be needing to prioritise self care too.
- Be mindful that colleague’s children, or your own, may pop up in video calls. Yes, this is less than ideal, but sometimes cannot be helped.
- Same goes for pets.
- Designate an area in your house as a working space, and try to ensure it is not a place you relax in. Try to avoid using your bedroom where possible. If you have to use a room usually used for relaxation, try to use just one corner or area in the room. We appreciate that this may be difficult, especially if you have children at home who may want to move from room to room.
- Build breaks into your day. For many autistic people it can be very easy to get into a flow state and not notice time flying by. While at times this is advantageous, it is important to pace yourself.
- Remember to clock off. Autistic inertia means it can be hard to get started on a job, but it can also be hard to stop at times too. It is very easy to carry on working beyond the time you usually would, or check work emails outside your regular hours. This being a very stressful time, it is important to prioritise self care.
- Dress for work. It is very easy to not bother changing out of pyjamas but changing into something else will help to distinguish between down time and work. It does not have to be a suit, just something to help you better distinguish between work and leisure time.
- It is ok not to be at your most efficient. Getting through the changing landscape of easing lockdown is enough – you do not need to be mastering lots of new skills at the same time. You may have to get used to some new tech to keep in touch with colleagues, but you can try to limit the number of new things you are learning if needs be and discuss with your line manager what to prioritise.
- It’s ok not to be ok just now. The changes to routines and ways of doing things is likely to be enormous. While some of these changes may be beneficial, having so many all at the same time may be tough. Self care is still your biggest priority.
Check out this guide on working from home from Inclusion Scotland -
Please also be aware that with restrictions easing off and we are now able to get out and socialise more, this is difficult for many autistic people too. Many autists may have missed the social interaction a lot but having spent a considerable amount of time away from others it will likely be difficult adjusting to spending time with others again, and all of the sensory input that goes along with it. Things will not magically go back to the way they were, and it will be ok to need time to adjust again.