Warning: A part of this post may trigger anxiety or distress.
The global Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic can be a difficult time for everyone whether they are on the autistic spectrum or not, but here are my top tips and coping strategies that help me get through the crisis:
- Stay at home unless it’s absolutely essential. Since the government announced the guidelines in order to slow the spread of the virus, I have been staying at home for the most part unless I needed to buy essential items such as food and toiletries (especially when I couldn’t get an online food shop delivery slot). I even ended up having to cancel my plans to stay with my family for my mum’s 60th birthday and Easter as well as see my friend from down my street and go on my 2000s music-themed adult weekend at Butlin’s Bognor Regis in May. During the week commencing 16th March 2020, the NHS 111 website advised me to self-isolate due to having coughed on and off since the week before even though the cough wasn’t as serious as one a person with the virus would have (I felt well enough to go about my daily activities and I didn’t have a temperature), but it was better to be safe than sorry.
- If possible, work from home. While I can understand that NHS staff, retail staff, those who work for emergency services, postal staff and delivery drivers cannot work from home and I am grateful for all their hard work during the crisis, I am equally grateful to have a voluntary role that allows me to work from home on occasion. I have been volunteering for my neurodivergent recruitment agency since January 2019 and have mostly worked in the office on Mondays and from home on Tuesdays, but from the week of my self-isolation, everyone at the agency agreed it would be best for us to work remotely (i.e. from home) until further notice.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. Wash your hands for 20 seconds and more often throughout the day. If you are out for essential shopping and exercise, take some hand sanitiser with you. I know shopping for hand sanitiser can be tricky right now (apart from when I saw some in my local Savers in the week I published this post), but Wowcher currently have some good hand sanitiser deals on their website.
- Keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Even though I can’t see my family, colleagues or friends in person for the foreseeable future, I can still contact them by phone, text message, e-mail, social media or Skype. From texting my nan and my friend from down my street to Skype messaging my colleagues (as well as Skype video calling my family), I can make sure I am still kept in the loop with those who matter to me the most.
- Control your social media and news consumption (Trigger warning). I have already written a blog post about how I manage what I consume on social media in general. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with others during the crisis; however, it could also affect you more sensitively than usual at this time. Since the crisis hit the U.K., I have seen several negative posts from rude ones about people panic buying or stockpiling in supermarkets and flouting lockdown guidelines to those where the virus was wished upon others or even those where death threats were made. You can block, mute, delete or unfollow other users depending on the social media platform or how much their posts affect you as well as hide Tweets from your Twitter feed (to do this, tap on the arrow on the top right corner of the Tweet, choose, “Not interested in this,” and then choose whichever option you think is best for you – I normally go for, “This Tweet isn’t relevant.”) or posts from your Facebook feed (to do this, tap on the three dots in the top right corner of the post you don’t want to see and choose the option to hide the post from your feed. You can also snooze a friend, page or group for 30 days). You can also mute words on Twitter (if only Facebook and Instagram also had this option), turn off notifications from social platforms or news apps if you feel as if you are getting overwhelmed by them as well as take breaks from using social media.
- Try something new or something that you haven’t done for a while. This could include home workouts, going for walks in a new local area (weather permitting of course!), baking or arts and crafts. Although I have only managed to exercise whilst incorporating my walks with my essential shopping, I still got around to doing some baking and craftwork. When I was younger, I loved making character fairy cakes from baking kits and I have recently made some mermaid cupcakes from a Tesco Free From Mermaid Cupcake Kit mostly to go with an at-home afternoon tea for one to celebrate my mum’s birthday. Staying with the mermaid theme, I have also found the time to use two of my small mermaid craft kits that were part of a craft hamper that another friend gave to me as a late birthday present last year.
NHS 111 website for Coronavirus: https://111.nhs.uk/service/COVID-19/
Wowcher (search for hand sanitiser): https://www.wowcher.co.uk/deals/shop
How to Mute Words on Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/advanced-twitter-mute-options
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post.