One of the things that is talked about a lot when it comes to dealing with stress, and overloads in autistic people is rest days; basically just taking a day to relax, and not having to worry about doing anything. It might be a set day each week, or it might just be decided depending on how the individual feels day to day. I myself talk about them, and advise autistic people to take them, and not to feel guilty for not doing much on those days. But as much as I talk about them, and know them to be a good thing I still find it hard to take my own advice, and let myself have days off. I find that I have a lot to fit in; I write both books and articles, I edit my work, I like to read, work out, and watch films most days. There are also the things I might not want to do that need to be fitted in: jobs around the house, or going out somewhere. Well if I take a whole day off doing things like that, or even if I just relax and only do a small amount I start to feel guilty, as if I should be doing something. I know in my own head that the quality of my work will be poor if I work on days when I feel overwhelmed, or even on the point of a shut down. And yet I still find it hard to allow myself to have a day of resting.
I like to work and I like to end the day knowing I have done a lot of work. But it is about time I started taking my own advice. There is no point pushing yourself past the point where you work starts to slump. Working hard is great if you also work well, but you can work as hard and as long as you like only for it to be pointless if you don’t work well.
I find that something as simple as having a rest day means that I am able to come back and do better work both in my job, and just around the house, and in life in general.
The issue is trying to stop feeling guilty, or lazy for saying you are having a day off. In fact relaxing, and resting is a key part of working well. Pushing yourself to your limits is fine, but its also OK to set up a good work and rest balance, and stick to this. Different things work for different people, but my advice would be – if you feel you need rest days, then take them. Don’t worry about feeling lazy, just take the day off, and get back to things the next day. It is a part of autism – at least for some people it is. It might mean you clash with the way you like to do things, but finding a way of being at ease with the idea of resting is important if you wish to get the best from yourself work-wise.
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