Manage Your Mood

March 21, 2012

By Dan Coulter

Suppose I gave you some techniques that work like hypnosis to snap you out of a bad mood? Stay with me.

     Everybody gets down, but people with Asperger Syndrome or other autism spectrum disorders tend to have extra pressures that can be very draining. I got a letter a while back from a successful professional who shared the challenges of her day,

     "Many people seem to think that Aspies lack emotion; that we don't have feelings. We do. Oh my, we do!! But we don't know how to translate them for the rest of the world to understand. Our language is so different. I'm exhausted when I go out and mingle with people because it's like being a ballet dancer; I have to use my voice, my body, and my mind to translate what's going on inside in a carefully choreographed performance so that neurotypicals will understand."

     While people with Asperger Syndrome can be very different, I think this letter captures the courage and determination so many people with ASDs display to succeed.

     But how do we deal with the drain? How do we recharge our batteries to face the next challenge, the next assignment, the next day?

     I have a list.

     While I recommend seeking professional help for serious depression, here are some ways I’ve found that can help you de-stress and recapture a positive attitude when you’re drained.

     1. SHIFT INTO NEUTRAL. If you just can’t find a solution to a problem, stop trying -- for a while. Taking a short break to relax and do something else can reboot your brain and give you a fresh perspective when you come back. Recognize when you reach your personal point of diminishing returns. Many people with ASDs benefit from a break in a quiet environment.

     2. FOLLOW A GUIDE. When you take that break, or at a regular time each day, listen to or watch a short relaxation program. Lots are available on CDs, DVDs, or as downloads. Some of the guided breathing exercises are particularly effective.

     3. EXERCISE. A daily walk, a yoga class, a Tai Chi class or other regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve your attitude. Exercise releases endorphins; natural chemicals that improve your mood.

     4. GROOVE. Pick out some positive, uplifting music to listen to on your break or as you’re doing a task. Choose something that works for you. Whether it’s the theme from the movie "Rocky" or a song that has special meaning for you, music has a special power to reach us and change our mood.

     5. STAND TALL. I heard about this one on a CD by self-help guru Tony Robbins. Think of the way you stand when you’re depressed: slumped over and frowning. Now think of the way you stand when you’re feeling great: head held high and smiling. Your brain associates your posture with your mood. When you’re feeling down, smile, throw your shoulders back and stand like you’re feeling great. Your brain will say, “Hey, I must be feeling good,” and your mood will improve.

     6. REMEMBER HOW GREAT YOU ARE. This is another Tony Robbins suggestion. We’ve all had ups and downs. Make a list of some times in your life when you felt great. When you felt loved and appreciated. Maybe when you accomplished something and soaked up some admiration. Keep those memories handy so you can pull them out and think about them when you get down. When you get depressed, it’s easy to think things will never get better. This technique reminds your brain that you’ve felt good in the past and you will again. Thinking about good times can make you feel better.

     These techniques all work on your brain, like hypnosis, to coax or kick it into a better mood and energize you. But it’s more like self-hypnosis, because you’re in control and finding ways to conquer some of the challenges that come with autism spectrum disorders.

     We all want to succeed like our friend who choreographs her performances at work. But we also deserve to enjoy the ride.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the author of ten DVDs about Asperger Syndrome and autism, including "Manners for the Real World: Basic Social Skills," and "Asperger Syndrome at Work." You can find more articles on his website at: coultervideo.com

© Dan Coulter 2012     Used by Permission     All Rights Reserved

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