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Checklist for Self-Care this Christmas

By Dr Michelle Garnett and Prof Tony Attwood



As the end of the year approaches, instead of looking forward to celebrations, meeting family and friends, or holidays, we can just be feeling very low in energy. Being autistic can be exhausting and life can be exhausting. We have the season change and the heat in Australia and the cold in Europe, and all the ingredients of a family and personal life, working or not working, and the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy required to navigate it all, often with other aspects like ill-health, physically or mentally of oneself or others, relationship distress, grief, low self-esteem and/or trauma. As we consider it all, perhaps we can begin to understand why low energy and exhaustion are occurring, and perhaps we can pause for a moment to feel the weight of it all, to acknowledge our suffering, and to offer ourselves some love and compassion.

At this time, more than ever, we encourage you to look after yourself, and we have compiled this list of ways to care for yourself this Christmas, irrespective of your relationship status or family situation:


Physical Self-Care:

  1. Regular exercise: Find physical activities you enjoy, such as yoga, swimming, or dancing.
  2. Balanced diet: Ensure you’re eating nutritious meals that support your health and well-being.
  3. Adequate sleep: Establish a bedtime routine to promote better sleep quality.
  4. Hygiene practices: Maintain a routine for personal grooming and hygiene.


Emotional Self-Care:

  1. Therapy or counseling: Seek therapy or counseling to work through emotions and challenges.
  2. Journaling: Write down thoughts and feelings to better understand yourself.
  3. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice techniques that help manage stress and anxiety.
  4. Setting boundaries: Learn to say no and establish healthy boundaries in relationships.


Social Self-Care:

  1. Support groups: Join communities or support groups for autistic individuals, many of these are online.
  2. Meaningful relationships: Nurture connections with friends or family members who understand and support you.
  3. Alone time: Embrace solitude as needed to recharge and relax.
  4. Passions and interests: Engage in what you love to feel happiness and a sense of fulfilment.


Intellectual Self-Care:

  1. Learning and growth: Pursue interests and hobbies that stimulate your mind.
  2. Reading and research: Explore topics of interest to expand your knowledge.
  3. Creative outlets: Express yourself through art, music, writing, or any creative pursuit you enjoy.


Sensory Self-Care:

  1. Sensory-friendly spaces: Create environments that cater to your sensory needs at home and work.
  2. Sensory diet: Incorporate sensory activities that calm or stimulate your senses as needed.
  3. Use of tools: Utilize sensory tools like fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones, or weighted blankets.


Practical Self-Care:

  1. Organization and structure: Establish routines and systems to manage daily tasks.
  2. Time management: Plan and schedule activities to avoid overwhelm.
  3. Self-advocacy: Advocate for your needs in various settings, be it at work, with healthcare providers, or in social situations.
  4. Seeking assistance: Don’t hesitate to ask for help or delegate tasks when necessary.


Environmental Self-Care:

  1. Creating safe spaces: Design environments that feel comfortable and safe to you.
  2. Nature time: Spend time outdoors in nature, which can have calming effects.
  3. Decluttering: Keep spaces organized to reduce sensory overload.

Remember, self-care is a highly individualized practice. It’s about discovering what works best for you and incorporating those practices into your routine regularly. Feel free to adapt these suggestions to suit your preferences and needs.

We wish you a safe and happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year!!