As a neurodivergent person with Autism & Tourette’s, the world of work has certainly brought me unique challenges to the workplace. Conforming to neurotypical work patterns can massively take a toll on mental health and if you’re neurodivergent, and feeling the strain, I understand how you feel. You’re definitely not alone. In this blog, I would like to offer my advice to help you navigate a career while preserving your mental well-being.
1. Make sure you take meaningful breaks
When it comes to annual leave, I found that odd days off and long weekends were never quite enough to let me reset. Quality holiday time over a week or two has been more beneficial for me to fully recharge and be prepared to jump back into it. As long as your time off doesn’t feel rushed, it doesn’t matter how you decide to spend your time!
2. If you’re not at work: disconnect
As tempting as it is to stay involved in work during downtime, try and resist. By keeping boundaries with yourself, you can approach your job with more energy and enthusiasm when it’s time to get cracking. I used to keep an eye on things during my days and weekends off, but that’s probably how I’ve managed to burn myself out before…
3. Keep communication open with your team
If the workload is becoming overwhelming, talk with your manager or HR about your needs, if you feel comfortable. Neurodivergent individuals may require specific accommodations, and it’s essential to advocate for yourself.
4. Tailor your work style
There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to how you get your work done. This is definitely something that requires trial and error but experiment with different routines, work patterns, volume levels and specific tools to understand what helps you perform best.
5. Get up and get out on your lunch breaks
As someone who has been tempted to work through lunch and end up stressed as a result, I find going for a short walk can break up the day. So definitely take some time to step away from your desk physically. Walking has definitely helped me reset, ready for the afternoon, and also gives me a chance to explore new places to eat near the office.
6. Structure and plan your day as much as possible
I can’t speak for everyone, but having some form of plan has been the key to keeping me on track for the day. Depending on how you work, writing something as simple as a small outline of your tasks and goals matched with a few time stamps in the day can help you stay focused and free from stress.
Above all, it’s important to remember that being neurodivergent shouldn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your mental well-being at work just for the sake of conforming to what’s considered ‘normal’. In 2023, many organisations are learning more about ways to support different needs – you can help educate them! As long as you can advocate for yourself, you’ll find the right balance in your career. Do you have certain rules to live by in order to stay mentally healthy at work? Please share them with me!