Guest Writer, Reid Miles
Asperger’s Zone Blog, Writer, Traveller & Autism Acceptance Advocate

Reid Miles is a Blogger, Traveller, and Autism Advocate who writes about his life on the Autism Spectrum. Before learning that he had Asperger’s and was on the Autism Spectrum, Reid already adjusted to and accepted the reality that he had ADHD and dyslexia. Reid is an accomplished man and has both surprised his parents and himself with so many achievements. Reid received his Bachelor’s on-line and his Masters abroad, he has traveled across Europe solo, he has worked two jobs, and has been a volunteer in a number of museums. Reid is an incredibly positive human with an amazing outlook on life!
Reid recognized the benefits of following a self-care plan and is here to share it with all of you. Join Reid’s journey through his blog, ‘Asperger’s Zone.’ You’ll find advice, encouragement, and lots of heartfelt personal stories.

Special Announcement: Next week Reid will be launching his new Podcast, ‘Inside the Asperger’s Studio.’
Feel free to subscribe here to join the conversation.

For a long time, I did not know I was on the autism spectrum.  However, when I learned I had Asperger’s I became more aware of my disability and better understood my limitations. 

My father passed away near the end 2017. Every day after that, kind of felt like a dream to me. Where I kept expecting to see him walk through the door. As the days went on, I just felt like I was walking up in a haze of nothingness. No emotions, I just felt drained. I did not want to do anything. Some days I woke up feeling like crap, and it was very hard to get out of bed. Memories would come and go, and the tears would well up.  Life felt impossible to navigate. 

Somewhere along the line of accepting my disability and taking charge of my life, I realized I needed to do something about it. I could not keep all these emotions bottled up. My mother also recognized that I was doing poorly and suggested I speak with someone. I was going to explode like a shaken up can of pop.  I needed to be strong, not just for my family, but for myself. It is what my father would have wanted. 

In past years, I was too afraid to talk to someone, or even be labeled as disabled. But, as time went on, I decided to talk to someone. I realized how good it felt to talk about my issues with others. Now, I didn’t just pick anyone to talk to too. I did my research. I looked online for a life coach who specializes in Asperger’s. I got myself together and started meditating with my Headspace App, to help clear my head. On hard days, I decided to remind myself, ‘You were OK before, you will be OK again.’ I also started taking hot baths because they helped relax my mind and body.

One of the things I have learned is, that I can’t do it all! I make a list of three things, either mentally or physically that can help me track with the things I need to do. It is not important to complete them all but it is important I make a note of them down. By keeping a list, I am more organized.

Another important thing I had to learn was how to listen to my body. One of my friends told me after my father passed away, is that I shouldn’t hold anything back. In her words, “Give your body, what your body wants.”

Tips I have picked up along the way to help me
These tips of care for myself include mantras, methods, actions, and behaviors. Some are instinctual and others have been learned through time. All of them have helped me get through some tough days. I hope they will help you as well.

-Take one step at a time-
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you force yourself to do anything you are just going to regret it later. If you push yourself too hard you will more than likely have a breakdown. By taking things slow, you will be able to process things in your mind. You will be able to breathe. When things are moving fast and you’re trying to do too much, you can feel overpowered and unable to breathe.

Make a mental list of three things you want to accomplish and set out to do them but remember it’s OK if you don’t finish the list.

-Listen to your body-
This is ever so important. By listening to your body, you will be able to tell what is going on and stop the problem before it happens.  If you struggle with noises or light, your body will sense it and give you a sign. Learn to listen to these signs and you be will be ahead of the game.

It’s OK to cry-
I know when we have meltdowns or breakdowns we just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Do it, do not be afraid of what others think. Believe it or not, crying is a stress reliever. Let it out. I guarantee you will feel so much better after a good cry.

Don’t let others tell you differently, crying does not make you weak. It means you are human. Some may know this already but there are happy tears as well. This is when we cry for something happy. Never be afraid to cry out in the open. If your body is telling you to cry then go for it.

Don’t try to stop yourself from crying. Your tears will stop when they are ready. I know this firsthand. I have had my moments where I would cry for a good 15 minutes and then suddenly, they will stop. You will be surprised how you feel after a good cry. You will feel so much better.

Tears to me, are my way of showing my emotions. Being the person I am, and because of my Asperger’s, I am a very emotional person. I have never been afraid to cry in public. When I feel the tears coming, I let loose, and I then I feel so much better after.

-Eat well-
This is so important. If you eat junk you will feel like crap and if you put the right things into your body you will feel so much better. Have you ever noticed, that if you eat junk food you don’t feel charged up and full of energy like when you eat a well-balanced meal? Getting the proper diet is so essential to living better. Make sure you are eating the essentials. I know we all have our comfort foods, mine is potato chips or popcorn. It is OK to indulge occasionally.

There are plenty of websites you can look up recipes. They also tell you all the ingredients you will need. I use Allrecipes a lot. You can go from simple recipes to complex recipes, to diet-wise, and heart-friendly recipes. If you are just beginning to cook, I suggest starting with the quick and easy recipes.

My father loved to eat. He was a real foodie. We used to always joke, that when my dad went on a vacation he wouldn’t remember the names of the places we dined at, but he would always remember the food he ate. So, my taste in food came from him. My brother is a chef and my dad would keep him constantly busy with new things for him to cook.

-Sleep-
Getting the right amount of rest is crucial to having a clear mind and being able to function through the day.

To get the right amount of sleep make sure you have a comfortable mattress and the right lighting. I know I like to sleep in absolute dark. I also find that having my blanket wrapped around me, makes me feel secure.

-Stay hydrated-
No matter if you’re sick or not, and no matter what time of day it is, always make sure you have a bottle of water handy.

Drink water before you go to bed and when you get up. This will help flush out your system. Especially if you had pop/soda or fizzy drink prior. If you’re not into drinking water, drink a nice glass of juice.

If you like to drink alcohol, there is no harm in nice glass of whisky or beer, especially a nice cold one. 

Stay away from caffeine-
I know some of you must have your morning coffee but, not me. I am more a mocha person. Believe it or not, I went a whole year without any carbonate, caffeinated drinks while I was in school.

Caffeine is in tea as well, but you can get the decaffeinated kind. There are also flavored waters you can get. When I was away at school, I drank a lot of Robinson’s Fruit Drink.  I swore by this stuff, and I still drink it, here back home.

Stay away from caffeine, especially before you go to bed, caffeine can last between 4 to 6 hours in your system. This is why I gave it up at school.  I would have the hardest time falling asleep. After I gave it up, I found I would sleep much easier.

The only time I drink anything with caffeine is when I am out, but never past 6 pm because I know how long it will sit in my system.  This is also why I drink a bottle of water before I go to sleep.

Shower-
Taking a hot or cold shower in the morning is vital to your body’s system. Taking a shower opens your bodies pores and cleans out all the oils and dirt.

I made this a daily ritual for myself when I went to school. It started with me getting off the plane with a sore back, so I took an incredibly hot shower just to ease the muscles in my back. It helped so much that I took another one that night. I brought this ritual home and have never stopped. Not only do I feel clean, but I feel awake and ready to take on the day.

-Go Silent-
This may be hard for some in our day of cell phones, tablets, and computers but I recommend shutting everything off. Just relax and listen to the world around you. You will be amazed by what you hear. The feeling you get when surrounded by silence is amazing. You get a sense of self. I know there are a lot of you who need your watch or phone to tell time but, forget about the time and see how much of, ‘in the now,’ you will feel.

When my father passed away I went silent for a bit because of the shock. My mind couldn’t focus, and I needed to recenter myself.

Get rid of ‘CAN’T’ from your vocabulary-
“Can’t”  is a poem by Edgar Guest that I really like. It is very powerful!

-Know what triggers you-
This is so important! Some of us are aware of our triggers and others don’t know what their triggers are. It is so important to recognize what bothers you. Once you do you will be able to stop them before they happen. 

When a lot of people are talking at once it is hard for my mind to process everything and I need to get some quiet.

-Set boundaries-
I am the type of person who always say yes, no matter what. I am always afraid of being reprimanded for either not helping or missing out on something. When I worked for Corecomm, they frequently asked me to work overtime. I would always say yes because I did not want to them to think I wasn’t a team player.

As I got older, I started to say no to things. I realized; it didn’t matter if I was missing out. My friends understood. I began to enjoy my alone time.

Meditate-
I cannot stress enough how meditation has helped me in so many ways. When I meditate, I can let all my thoughts come and go to clear my mind. Meditation is so beneficial to the body. When you meditate you are in a place where you able to hear your thoughts. I like to use my Headspace App.

The best time to mediate is in the early in the morning before you start your day or, late at night before you go to bed.

-Go outside-
Fresh air is important to the body. Go for a walk, you will be amazed how well you feel after a nice brisk walk.

Before I went to University, I used to take my dog for walks. I enjoyed the fresh air and just being outside so much. At Uni, I was introduced to a walking path that helped me so much when I was under a lot of stress.

Journal-
Every morning, write your thoughts down and look at them at the end of the day. Writing is a great outlet for stress and anxiety. When you put your thoughts on paper you can look back and say, “Why was I worried about this? Or why was this on my mind?”

I took a writing class and my teacher told us, just write down everything that comes to your mind.

-Pet an animal-
I never knew how beneficial animals could be until I was at University. It was right around the time everyone was studying for their exams, I saw flyers all over saying, ‘if you are stressed out, there is a place you can go to pet dogs.’ My friends told me how relaxing it was and that it helped them relax.

I never did it, but wish I did. During my travels, I meet a girl walking a black pug which reminded me of my pug back home. I found that talking to the girl and petting her dog really helped me, it relaxed me so I wasn’t in a panic state.

-Track your thoughts-
This is extremely helpful if you can’t sleep. I never did this until I started with the Sleepio program. Part of their program is a thought tracker where you write down four things. 1) Your thought, 2) How it makes you feel, 3) The accurate version, and 4) How the accurate version makes you feel. By doing this, you are using positive thoughts instead of negativity. Either for sleep or during the day.

An example of this would be: (My Thought) I am the only one with sleep problems, (How it makes me feel) it makes me feel sad, (Accurate Version) I am not the only one with sleep problems, (How I feel) I feel better that I am not the only one out there with sleep problems.

This is all part of CBT recognizing distorted thoughts and being able to dismiss them. CBT is also helpful with sleep as well by dismissing negative thoughts.

Talk about your issues-
It is always good to talk to someone. I never wanted to talk about my issues before as I thought I could handle things on my own. 

When I was in University, I had a lot of people to talk to and it helped me so much. I also had two, ‘Well-being Advisors,’ whom, without their sound advice I would have of been lost.

For those of you, who think you can do this on your own, I disagree. I highly recommend that you do some research and find a specialist that you want to talk to. A regular therapist won’t necessarily understand the problems of someone who has Asperger’s. When people look at me, I seem normal from the outside. However, it is how I interact, my limitations, and what I can and can’t do that makes the difference.

For those of you who do not want to leave the comforts of home, many life coaches and support offerings will talk to you via skype, like mine does.  It is so much easier to access the right person in these days of technology.

-Get rid of clutter-
This is vital to how you think. There is a saying that goes “A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind.” My room used to be a mess, but as I started to clean it out. I began to have some clarity. I was thinking clearer.

-Set routines-

This is so important to your well-being. If you have a daily routine, stick to it.  I have a morning routine that I stick to no matter what. I get up, turn on my shower, pull out the clothes for the day and go “shirt, underwear, socks, pants” To make sure I have everything ready after I am out of the shower.

A routine is good because it keeps you busy. It also makes sure that you remember what you must do.

Just remember, to breathe