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Neurodivergent burnout: prevention and cure

14 Jan 2022 3:20 PM | Morwenna Stewart

When we are neurodivergent (ND), it's easy to burn out. I know, because that was me just before Christmas 2021.

We ND people want to do everything and fix everything, but it's simply not realistic. And when we get burned out, it can be hard to recover.

But there are things we can do to avoid burnout, or to recover faster.

Top tips

1.    Know yourself

  • General strengths: We often know our weaknesses, but how well do we know our strengths? The Via Character Strengths questionnaire ranks your top strengths (from a core list of 24). Your strengths are often the characteristics that matter most to you.
    You can use your strengths to help you to be at your best. For example, you might find joy when exercising your ‘love of learning’ strength, by learning something new daily. Or you might use your compassion strength by extending compassion to yourself.
  • ND strengths: For more ND-specific strengths, the Genius Within profiler tool is great. Exploring it with someone else can help to build confidence and self-esteem.
2.   Follow the experts
  • Many brilliant ND advocates have written, vlogged or done podcasts on burnout. Your favourite search engine will bring a plethora of resources. If you’re too tired to read, there are good podcasts too. These can also be useful to share with friends, family, employers.
3.  Try small habits
  • We ND folk can be ‘bingers’  - we hyperfocus on our passions and forget to do other stuff. It’s usually best to work WITH our nature, not against it. However, it can help to build good habits into our structure. For example, the Pomodoro technique (through apps) can remind us to take breaks. Taking breaks to do something that you like can be helpful – so it’s a treat, not a punishment.
4.     Build a super-supportive network
  • Get a good network around you – one that understands neurodiversity and burnout – and lean on them. Whether it’s friends, family, support groups, employee resource groups, the Samaritans phone line, or social media forums. Some of us depend on our pets for emotional support – they listen and don’t give daft advice!
5.    Trust yourself and ignore unhelpful advice
  • If anyone suggests something unhelpful then ignore it. Well-meaning people often suggest what works for them. But we ND people rarely work in the way that NT people do. Things that seem unusual or counterintuitive to others might be the best approach for us.

6.     Get professional help

  • We partner with great professionals who just get neurodiversity. Our ever-growing classified directory lists organisations that we trust. Whether it’s therapy, coaching or any other support, there’s something for everyone.

Let us know - in the public forums or on social media - what works for you.

Morwenna Stewart

Morwenna Stewart