Relax and take a moment to enjoy. It’s something we all need to do to recharge so we’re ready for the next opportunity that comes our way. The benefits of relaxing encompass both the physical and emotional realm. The emotional benefits of relaxation include reducing stress and relieving anxiety. The physical benefits of relaxation include: lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as the health benefits associated with reducing stress and anxiety. Relaxation is an essential part of a healthy life.
Relaxation is even more important for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. People with ASD must contend with a world where their senses are bombarded with noise, bright lights, smells, and social demands. Their day begins with heightened stress and anxiety levels, just from living in a neurotypical friendly environment. Possibly related to this chronic stress, autistic people have a higher mortality rate, dying approximately 20 years earlier than neurotypical peers. It is imperative for those with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome to find a way to relax. How do you relax? Please share your strategies.
Fortunately, there are many ways to relax. Some ways are more general, like taking deep breaths, and others are more unique to one’s taste. The best way to do it is to find something you enjoy and set aside time for that activity. It might be enjoying the fresh air as you walk through the woods. It might be painting, swimming, or listening to your favorite music. It might be sharing a dinner with friends. Whatever it is, this activity is as important as eating and sleeping. Make it a part of your routine and stick with it. Remember to have a second and even third option for your relaxing activity, just in case the first option is unavailable. For example: If your first option is swimming, but your pool is closed, maybe you go for a walk instead.
What do you do when you need to relax but experience difficulty settling down from a state of excitement, anger, fear and/or frustration? Everyone needs a little outside help to start relaxing, at one time or another. Taking a few deep breaths can help, so can listening to calming music or a podcast.
On that note, with the help of some friends, I have created a podcast that does just that. Feel free to give Be Calm on Ahway Island a try on a day/ night where you need to wind down and/ or share it with others. The podcast starts with a guided meditation and then moves into a simple story. Although it was designed to teach young children how to relax, work through everyday challenges and settle in for bed, many adults have reported that Be Calm on Ahway Island helps them sleep as well.
There are many ways to relax. I hope we’ve helped you on a path to find your own relaxation.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your relaxation strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.