How to be healthy as a nerodivergent adult

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make healthier lifestyle changes. This time of year is always hard for me mentally, and I tend to burn out pretty quickly if I don’t take care of myself properly. I also have been recognizing how my sensory needs play into everyday life and how ignoring them can have a negative impact. I have been working on addressing my ADHD in therapy, and I’m still trying to get an autism diagnosis (I know there’s pros and cons to a diagnosis, but I think it’ll help me to know for sure). While I’ve discovered some habits help, I’m still struggling to find habits that don’t drain my energy.
For instance, masking. I know I mask a lot in my everyday life. I spend so much effort to mirror my surroundings and to appear like everyone else. But it’s exhausting. I come home from work with bad headaches or no energy because I’m spending my day trying to be a productive, hardworking, friendly coworker. By the time I reach my work from home days, I struggle to stay engaged with work or do simple communication tasks like emails. I know I need to have a healthy way to unmask and take those mental breaks. I just have no idea how to do it. I’m struggling to figure out what recharges me. A lot of my past coping (art, exercise, cleaning) are becoming extremely overwhelming.
I also want to be able to eat healthier. I know meal prepping on weekends helps me out. But I usually can only handle making one meal, and I get tired of leftovers quick. Going into the office has made me a little more disciplined about having home cooked food for lunches. But I need meal options that I can actually keep up with. I know there are microwaveable meals and freezer meals that people lean on. But with my food allergies and food sensitivity, these options make me physically sick. I’ve tried getting instant pot and slow cooker meals, but I need a bigger/easier variety. I’m not a skilled cook, and a lot of stuff I’ve tried has backfired. The clean up is also a pain in the butt and that is a big thing that stops me from cooking. I’m also trying to figure out how to eat more fruits and vegetables. I know buying smaller portions helps me, but I also struggle to eat everything before it rots.
If anyone has advice about how to kinda “life hack” these obstacles, I’m all ears. I’ve been extremely overstimulated this week, so I’m trying different things to hopefully make daily things easier (my favorite thing has been adding a galaxy light to my bathroom to make showering and my night time routine less draining). But these issues I’ve struggled with for a bit and I’m running out of ideas. I can’t work from home everyday in pajamas and only eat chick fil a. As cool as that sounds, my body can’t handle only chicken nuggets and no physical interaction. So if any other nerospicy people know good ways to feed myself and not burn out, those suggestions are welcome.

6 Likes

For meals, we make one big food prep day every couple months. We come up with 10 ish Instant pot recipes, chop up the raw ingredients, put them in ziplock bags, label them with meal name and how much water etc. to add, and freeze them. No cooking, baking, mixing, anything. At night, we choose a meal, thaw it just enough to squeeze it out of the bag into the instant pot, and cook it for some arbitrary amount of time. While the meals are cooking, if it doesn’t sound exciting enough on its own, we’ll prepare a basic side, usually pasta, rice, or a salad. If we kept bread on hand, we’d probably just eat bread with every meal. We mostly do casseroles, soups, and stews, but I don’t see why you couldn’t do chicken and an instant pot-friendly veggie or side in one bag. Some of our favorites are beef stroganoff and chicken curry.

5 Likes

as for veggies, you can prep them all, and lightly saute or steam them, without seasoning or salt, then freeze them. And just whack off some when you want to add it to something. I find they keep better like that than freezing raw sometimes when they can get freezer burn.

I also make a mixed veggie saute like this, and use that as the base form other meals. can be onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, sweet peppers. And then start a new dish by cooking these in oil adding spices, and whatever else.
Eg: this is good for starting soups and even ramen, wrap-like stuff, or even in sandwich with some cheese and condiments.

3 Likes

Depending on the type of foods you like, you can make this very easy. I helped my son with this a couple years ago. I found out he was going down to the 7-eleven every day to buy his lunch. Not very healthy and a big waste of money.

Here are a few ideas. Most of them are really easy to put together and clean up shouldn’t be bad either. You can buy the disposable containers or buy nice glass ones that are easy to wash.

~Do you like sliced lunch meat and cheese? You can do roll ups.
~There is always the salad. Lots of goodies added in can make it satisfying.
~Sandwich and chips
~Soups (you can buy a soup thermos)
~Chicken (or whatever protein you like), rice and a veggie like broccoli for example
~Raw veggies to dip in your fav dressing.
~Salami, cheese and crackers
~Grapes, berries, apple or other fruit slices
~Left overs from dinner the night before.

You can also look up ideas, I’m sure there are lots of sights that can give you even more ideas.

Hope this helps! :hrtlegolove:

1 Like

Hi there, @beth_the_fake_ginger

I’m happy to hear that you’re making life choices to help better yourself. That’s a big step you’re taking! It takes a lot of strength to help yourself out, but it’ll be great for you in the long run!

I am not going to pry, because this does sound personal. However, I do wish to challenge you to ask yourself a couple questions-- is this time of year hard because of a difficult time in your life in the past? Is it something like seasonal depression?

Here’s a resource describing trauma and what kind of therapy works well with it: https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/what-is-trauma

Here’s a resource worksheet to help jot down your traumatic experiences: https://www.psychpoint.com/worksheets/what-is-trauma

Here’s a resource on getting through seasonal depression: 14 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression | Everyday Health

Regarding your ADHD and sensory issues, I’m glad that you have found the galaxy light helps with your shower and taking care of yourself that way. Congrats for being able to be brave and talk to your therapist about your ADHD. Have you spoken to a doctor about their advice? I finally got medication for mine. As for an autism diagnosis, I’m in the exact same boat. It’s very hard to get tested for it, I’ve found. My psych clinic doesn’t even want to dispute the denial claim from my insurance. They just want me to pay out of pocket for it. Don’t give up on that.

Are you in the US by any chance? I know here, you (might have to research it a bit) may be allowed to take FMLA/PTO to have a mental health break from work-- which may be extremely beneficial to you. Regarding coping mechanisms, it’s hard to force yourself to do things like those because you’re right, they get extremely overwhelming. Have you ever thought about trying a different hobby? Here’s a resource to 1000 of them: List of Hobbies {The Ultimate List of 1000+ Hobbies to Try}

I honestly had to think about some things I loved as a kid and take some courses towards things I wanted to do in life (both in like the last week) and finally I’m feeling a bit better about myself-- but even that comes in waves.

I started making a kind of “quiet time” and adding it to my schedule. No noise, no lights, no phone-- anything. I do it for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour. I try not to think about anything(whether it’s stress related or not), to try to get my brain to calm down. Maybe starting a mental health journal, with this resource here, can be beneficial to you as well: How to keep a mental health journal - MHA Screening

I’m hoping some of these helped. If they did/didn’t and you’d like more material, do let me know. We can come up with a game plan together.

Take care, @beth_the_fake_ginger, please keep us updated.

1 Like