Coping mechanisms / strategies are used by everyone, of every neurotype. They are what we rely on to help us deal with difficult situations that cause us anxiety, fear and all of those other negative emotions that make our hearts race and our palms sweat, at the very least.

Neurodivergent people have to contend with very high levels of anxiety on a daily basis, levels that send us leaping into fight or flight mode much more easily and more regularly than neurotypical people. So, finding healthy coping strategies that work for each of us is vital if we’re going to have rewarding lives.

These mechanisms are personal to each individual, many of our stims are examples of coping strategies. You will know best which strategies work for you, in each situation. Feeling the dreaded panic rising when you realise you’re experiencing sensory overload in a crowded, noisy, hot room, for instance, is likely to need a different and more immediately accessible coping strategy than one that is needed to cope with the pressures of an ongoing project at work, without burning out.

Walking in the countryside, fishing, sitting on a sunny park bench, playing loud music, rocking, letting our feet go wiggly wild, humming, playing solitaire, lying in the dark under a weighted blanket, wearing earplugs or noise cancelling headphones, chomping on chewelry, counting backwards, controlled breathing, cuddling our animals – it’s a limitless list – it’s what works for each individual one of us.

When we find our strategies, we must respect our need to use them. It’s okay to prioritise them – we are not being self-indulgent by lying in the dark under that weighted blanket when the outside world is demanding our attention, we are taking responsibility for our well-being. We are avoiding unhealthy alternatives. We are attempting to take preventative action and that is enough.