This year Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) is focusing on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.
Although autism is not a mental health condition research suggests that 70% of people with autism struggle with their mental health, like anxiety and depression, at some point.
Laura Harman, our Practice and Clinical Support Team Manager, has developed a strategy about mindfulness and relieving stress through the senses.
Being aware of your own, and others personal stress clues is key to being proactive in using coping strategies which can support well being. Stress clues can be:
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgement
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Short Temper
- Agitation & inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness & isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Aches and Pains
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself
- Procrastination or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits
If you recognise the stress clues, using your senses can be a really effective way of managing stress! You can experiment with different senses activities to find the ones which help you to relieve your stress.
- Breathe through your nose
- Relax your muscles
- Look around you and tune into your senses. What do you see? What do you hear?
Mindfulness is simply making an effort to give your attention to what is happening in the moment in a non-judgemental way. It is hoped mindfulness allows us to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can react differently to them.