Travelling during a pandemic

I want to discuss the situation of travelling during this hard time. Of course yet again a disclaimer:

*This is purely my thoughts, opinions and situation, please do not use this as a guide or as pure facts, this is just how I feel and how things have panned out personally for me, thank you for understanding* 

A rough description of my situation

I live at home with my partner and we both work from home and have been since March. We have both been isolating and only going out and seeing others when the guidelines had changed, we will always follow the guidelines to ensure our safety and the safety of others. The people we have been around are trusted and have been following the guidelines. 

Family

I discussed with my parents that if me and my partner came back home with positive tests we’d all isolate and me and my partner would do everything within our power to avoid contact with my parents; use separate towels, clean all surfaces, no sitting together or hugging etc. I believe it will not come to this as we have been extremely careful during our trip. 

Place of travel

I would then like to discuss the place of travel itself, we will not be travelling anywhere outside of the UK, we will only be travelling if we have isolated for a specific time before the travel date and we will ensure that our chosen locations are restricted and or follow the guidelines. 

We chose Southern England/South-West England due to the amount of activities we can do without being near anyone from the public. We are able to go on experiences that involve us being outside and or in our car which means we are less likely to cause any problems. We opted for an Air BnB as we will have our own kitchen and cleaning facilities, this means we won’t be a risk to hotel staff and we will not be at risk ourselves by being around many other people in a hotel. We also opted for a hire car to ensure no public transport is undertaken which of course protects both us and the public. 

Little things we ensured

We wore masks and ensured we used hand sanitiser with us at all times, we kept away from everyone and made sure we followed the social distancing rules. Something you can do when out and about during these times especially if you wish to travel or shop is reduce the amount of ‘touching’ you do when inside a shop or public area for example, you don’t need to pick up every book or every piece of clothing you walk past.

Reflecting on my Asperger’s and mental health

I particularly hated the airport, the main problem I had was the flight itself. They did not distance anyone on board and if I had known this would be the outcome I probably would’ve gone with another company or not flown. 

Another issue I have with traveling and just being out in public is the use of masks, my sensory problems really make wearing a mask a challenge, I feel as though I cannot breathe and I’m choking, it also brings my already very sensitive body temperature skyrocketing. I wear a combination of reusable and disposable masks depending on the situation and I will continue to wear these to ensure others around me feel more comfortable and I have to admit it does stop me from touching my face quite so much. Throughout this entire time I was very anxious and stressed, I struggled sleeping and suffered horrible doubts and thoughts surrounding illness, death and guilt. 

Shops were also very uncomfortable, some shops had rules and it was very slow and clinical but other shops acted as if rules were in place but people would not listen to the rules. This made me very uncomfortable when people pushed past or walked the wrong direction and disrupt the whole line. I dislike being constantly touched and having my personal space invaded even before this outbreak as I have always been nervous about illness, I do not have the flu vaccine as I get far too many reactions so I opt out and have to ensure I am protecting myself so the kind of behaviour I have witnessed upsets me in general as I am aware there are people who are extremely vulnerable and need to have the space to complete their tasks safely. Social distancing isn’t hard and its one of the easiest things you can do so please try your best. 

Over time I have come to realise that you cant stop your life or stop living. I’m not saying this situation should be forgotten or ignored but I believe it is here to stay, one day there may be a vaccine or herd immunity may help reduce the spread or many other things that I am not educated about may happen but for now it is here and we must learn and work together to get through it. You can travel during this time as long as you are aware of the risks and ensure you plan and prepare accordingly. No one is immune to this and you must ensure you are protecting yourself and others around you. 

Things to know when travelling

  • Traveling during this time may mean that you are unable to do things or go to certain places as they are shut so be aware that you may not be able to do exactly what you prepared for
  • The rules and guidelines are always changing so please keep an eye on the local area you are visiting to make sure you are aware and up to date with the latest guidelines
  • Different places may have different guidelines or rules, an example of this is coffee shops, some coffee shops don’t allow reusable cups or their own cups when you sit in but other coffee shops may insist that even if you wish to sit in that you must have a disposable cup
  • Masks, as of Saturday the 8th (I think) are to be worn inside of museums or certain attractions that may have not insisted masks be worn before , an example of this is the Roman baths in Bath, before Saturday you could choose to wear a mask but now it’s mandatory 
  • You may need to isolate when you get to your destination or when you return home so be prepared especially when it comes to work or family situation
  • Bring lots of hand sanitiser and ensure you have a mask with you whenever you go out, I hate the smell and texture of the sanitiser I’ve used in other shops and places I’ve visited so I for one enjoy using my own sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol
  • Ensure things haven’t been cancelled especially travel and accommodation 
  • Ensure you know the risks you’re taking and how to keep yourself and others around you safe, airlines may be crowded and you’ll be standing around near others which poses a higher risk etc
  • Some attractions social distance and you must follow a line, this means it may take much longer than expected to complete an experience
  • If you are classed as vulnerable or you have medical conditions that may make you more at risk maybe try to find a location that doesn’t involve travel like a stay-cation

Thank you for reading, please stay safe and ensure you prepare if you do also travel 🙂

Burnout

Sometimes its hard to figure out what you want and how to achieve it. Instead of sitting down, being patient and giving yourself the time and space to learn, progress and reach your goals, you tend to get stressed, panic and worrying till you no longer have the motivation and energy to progress. 

Burn out has hit me on so many levels during my life, throughout my school life, I had a 100% attendance then suddenly some issues arose just before my GCSEs and all of that hard work caused me to have a breakdown. Since then burn out has become a topic that I am fully aware about and know I need to work on. If I had taken the correct amount of time and learnt about myself maybe I would’ve dealt with my issues in school appropriately. I cant change what happened in the past so instead I must find ways to ensure it does not repeat itself. I am trying my hardest to improve my self-awareness and encourage myself to learn how I work and think so that I can reduce burn out and ensure I stay level. 

I want to talk about cognitive behaviour therapy in a future post as I think it is a subject that everyone should be aware about due to the impact it can have on our own lives and how we can influence others. This can be a positive subject to include in our lives, if we don’t know how to be ourselves then we will not only internally suffer but we will also cause pain externally. Its hard and it will take years of practice and experience but I believe we can each take control over ourselves and our actions to help us achieve our own goals and how to support others to do so as well. 

What is burnout?

Burnouts are different for everyone and each of us may choose to deal with them in different ways. However, there are a few signs that you can look out for that may indicate that you’re suffering from burnout: 

Feeling drain and fatigued- 

The first sign that really hits a lot of people is feeling exhaustion and drained, this can cause all sorts of problems especially in other areas of your life such as lack of self care, common stress problems such as anxiety may also become more prevalent and sneak up on you more often. 

Lack of motivation-

Lack of motivation can swoop in easily especially if you’re feeling drained or fatigued. You may lose interest in hobbies or things that would normally interest you. You may feel dissatisfied with your job and may notice you begin to lack motivation to complete tasks as you would do normally. Losing interest in things may cause forgetfulness which can then impact both your personal and work life. 

Negative emotions-

Feeling anger, becoming more irritable/frustrated and even more chronic behavioural changes. Feeling more cynical and sad will creep up on you and make sure you have no motivation or energy to comprehend feeling a positive emotion. These negative emotions can affect you in both personal and work relationships. 

Cognitive problems- 

Problems with attention, executive functions and memory will become apparent.

Decreased satisfaction- 

You don’t feel satisfied and may feel as though you are getting nowhere. You feel less happy about your career or with home life. 

Other problems- 

Other problems may occur that I may have not mentioned such as stomach problems, migraines/headaches, sleeping problems, change of appetite, lack of social life and many more. 

Burnout itself- 

https://www.thisiscalmer.com/blog/5-stages-of-burnout

A perfect summary for burn out to me is ‘Burnout is the loss of meaning in one’s work, coupled with mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion as the result of long-term, unresolved stress.’ which I found on a website called ‘Calmer’ – https://www.thisiscalmer.com/blog/5-stages-of-burnout

I really enjoyed this blog as I really felt it captured what its like to reach burnout and what the process feels like in 5 easy to understand stages. 

What can you do when suffering burnout? 

Try to learn or take up different relaxation methods and create a self-care routine, this is help you find ways to create a less stressful environment and know when enough is enough. I chose things like yoga and mediation and even reading or listening to music to help me relax. 

Try to escape work once the working day is over, overthinking and working on work related areas while you’re meant to be at home or relaxing is not healthy. Your work will begin to bleed into your personal life and you may struggle to decipher between hobbies, personal life and work. I personally took up writing as a ‘outside of work’ hobby, I enjoy waffling on about subjects of interest and then sharing them with others…I also find it relaxing and freeing as I feel I am being honest with both myself and others around me. But you don’t have to choose writing, other good ‘outside of work’ hobbies that you could take up can range from sports and exercise to arts and crafts, whatever relaxes you and makes you feel happy. 

Reducing social media and electronics, now I am aware some people find scrolling through social media and gaming, relaxing but you have to remember this can effect your mental health and you may not even be aware of this. Use it wisely and remember what you see on social media may not be real and to try not to get too caught up in it all. I personally don’t enjoy many platforms of social media as I find I feel more negatively about myself and the world after spending too much time scrolling through other peoples lives. Gaming can be relaxing however, again I feel very tense and over stimulated after a hour or so, playing with electronics can also affect your sleep, so try to do everything in moderation. 

Getting a good sleep cycle and becoming more organised can really help anyone feel better, sleeping more ensures your body has the time it needs to reset for the next day. Not getting enough sleep can effect someone both physically and mentally. Being more organised can help reduce the last minute ‘oh NO’s’ and forgetful moments of ‘Oh dear is that today?’. The more organised you are the more relaxed your mind can be, do you sometimes find yourself laying awake late at night or remembering that you needed to do something the next day but forgot and now its too late? Well becoming more organised can help to reduce this. If you’re ready for the tasks then you’re less likely to get things wrong and when you get things wrong this can impact your thoughts and you can begin to doubt your worth which can really lead to some negative thoughts. 

Lastly, talk, find someone you trust and just be honest. Its hard, really hard but it will get easier. If you are struggling to find someone to trust then seek out a professional and you may even find that they can help with other problems you may be experiencing. A simple conversation can do wonders for the mind. 

Do not judge people who get burnt out, this is a process and each of us should be able to gain the support and care from those around us or from a professional if needed. Don’t suffer alone, pick up the phone and speak to someone, its so very hard to do this, I know, but you can help reduce the risk of burnout by just being aware.

What was your experience with burnout? How do you cope living in a fast pace world?

Link for feature image-

https://www.dub.uu.nl/en/depth/more-signs-point-higher-risk-burn-out-among-phd-candidates

What is Asperger’s?

This post is just a brief explanation, Asperger’s is a lot deeper and there are far more things to share about the diagnosis than what I have written. Please remember we are each individuals and just like neurotypicals you cannot define us with a single definition or diagnosis.  

Most people, especially those who are neurotypical describe and act as though Asperger’s and other forms of Autism are diseases with no cures and dread to hear the words mentioned about their child. In fact it’s a neurological disorder which you are born with and there is little evidence proving the cause and exact reason why some of us are born with it. Family history has been seen to play a part in the development. It is also much more common to diagnose boys rather than girls this may be because on average women will present differently to men. Asperger’s is quite often diagnosed later in life especially for women, this can be really hard for us with Asperger’s as this means we have gone through life being misunderstood and hurt due to a lack of understanding. 

Asperger’s is normally referred to as “high-functioning” which means we normally have above or average intelligence, we normally develop as normal or slightly faster than peers however, suffer in the social and mental health department. This makes it harder for those with Asperger’s to be diagnosed at a very young age as they may perform well until something is presented in their life that challengers them. I for instance didn’t have many obvious negatives growing up (no more than any child of course) and most of the “quirks” I had actually helped me to do so well in school and develop. However, later in life I began to show a lot more negative symptoms and began isolating myself as well as social and emotional problems. Masking or pretending to be someone I am not during most of my life finely took a toll on me. After having my first life changing break down my mum fought extremely hard with the health system and I got a diagnosis. If this hadn’t happened maybe it would’ve taken even longer to present. 

It can be a super power, a curse or both at the same time however, no two people present the same, so each of us with a form of autism will be different and will struggle and succeed in different ways. Treatment to help ease the negative symptoms should be unique to the individual as we are all different. Boys and girls will present differently as well. 

I do not need a cure, I do not have a disease I am just different in some ways this can make me better at some things however, it can also make me worse in other things but this is a journey and there’s no easy fix for anyone. 

I am “too sensitive” and this hurts me greatly, I feel far too much compared to an NT (neurotypical) this is both a blessing and a curse, I am able to feel complex emotions however, it can be hard to control them and may cause outbursts. Heightened emotions and empathy sometimes means those of us with Asperger’s struggle to process and show them so it appears that we lack emotion when in fact most of us feel it much more. Of course some of us lack emotion and this is fine as many NTs have also had this present. 

The communication problems usually arise when the NTs(Neurotypicals) and autistic people try to communicate to one another. We tend to be more direct, honest (which normally appears as rude to NTs) and efficient, however, those without autism tend to rely on body language, complicated social dances and unspoken rules which is so very hard for some of us.

Imagine being told to play a brand new game or build a piece of furniture without being given a manual, that’s what it can be like for us to live around others. Communication is a two way street, you cant expect us to change ourselves to suit you because you’re idea of normality is different. It’s a lot of energy and effort to fit in for anyone let alone for someone with a disorder, try and put in some effort too then we can meet in the middle and it’ll make it easier for the both of us haha. 🙂 There people with autism who do not communicate via voice, they may still understand and be able to communicate in other ways so please don’t assume anything. I find I act very different and mask around my family. Around others I mask in a different way again, I feel I am only truly me around my partner and parents.

Social isolation is very common and not always intentional because sometimes its easier and less exhausting than masking. Some of us can be expressionless (or have little expressions) and speak in a monotone like voice.

Stimming is another big part of being Asperger’s or well a majority of us will have heard of this. Just a quick question, do you click your pen, tap your fingers or shake your leg? Well that’s considered a stim. NTs and those of us with Asperger’s all stim however, we tend to stim much more or in different ways that are considered as negative or more obvious. Again some of us may not stim much at all but on average we will stim more than NTs. This can include rocking on chairs, swaying, spinning or twirling yourself or objects around you, head hitting, repetitive behaviours, hand picking or tapping, hair pulling or twisting and chewing of clothes, fingers and hair. These seem to be the stims I see pop up the most in the community. There are many others that I have not mentioned. Most of the time safe stimming should be encouraged not frowned upon, it is considered self-soothing and calming. 

Issues with planning, organising, time management are very common (women with Asperger’s have mentioned this more frequently) as well as being able to hyper-focus, because of these we tend to overthink and often feel unmotivated or lazy. This will then lead us to question our intelligence as well as worth as we may not be able to do things as easily as others and this is detrimental to our health.

It makes me very low and insignificant. You cant expect a fish to climb a tree as a monkey would. Whether you’re Asperger’s or not we each need to remember that our talents may not be the same as the next person and sometimes some people are unable to do things that you can do. 

Hyper focusing for me is helpful, it allows me to complete tasks and learn new things much quicker especially when it’s a special interest. 

Special interests should be encouraged and could pave the way for future goals, enhances pleasure and may help us make friends. Special interests can be for a range of things such as; trains, animals, numbers, quotes, books, films, music and so much more, a special interest is much more than a passion to us with Asperger’s (I will explain further at a later date). 

Being different is what makes us special, both Asperger’s and Neurotypicals are wonderful. 

Even if there were no labels we would all still be different and that’s so important to remember you are worth just as much as anyone else so don’t let others define who you are. 

Both images belong to rightful owners.