Contributed by Margaux Wosk
The holidays are a wonderful time where family and friends get together to share stories, eat, drink and be merry.
It always sounds great! Until it becomes overwhelming. Sometimes it’s the loud conversations or the texture of foods—there are many different factors. Hopefully I can impart some wisdom, humour and great strategies to help you handle it.
Pack yourself a little bag of self-care this holiday season!
Find a quiet place
If you’re not in the comfort of your own home, don’t fret. There’s usually somewhere quiet where you can go to decompress. Sometimes that’s in the form of an extra bedroom, a bathroom or even stepping outside for a bit. I definitely have taken advantage of this when things get too loud or overwhelming.
Bring food you’re comfortable eating
A lot of the time, I find myself pining for something to eat when I am a visitor at someone else’s home. My stomach would growl and I would look around at the options and realize there was nothing that I could eat. A lot of foods and textures become far too overwhelming for me. Coming prepared is a really important step—this way you can participate in a family meal and have something that is satisfying for you to eat.
Consider Ear Plugs
Sometimes it’s just much too loud and I start to feel uncomfortable. Earplugs can be a good solution. Since some earplugs aren’t completely noise-cancelling, you can still be present within the conversation. For me, I do find it very hard to follow all the different things happening. It’s good to protect your ears and have strategies to try to prevent sensory overload.
Bring a book or have a book on your mobile device
The ability to zone out or focus your mind on something else is also a huge thing to consider. Whether it’s a physical book or something on your mobile device, it’s a noteworthy distraction. You don’t have to feel obliged to take part in socializing, and having something to read can be very helpful.
Bring a stim toy
Do you have a toy you can chew on or fiddle with? Don’t forget it at home! These instances can definitely bring on overwhelming feelings in some folks, but it’s totally a good thing to have. It’s one small way to ensure that you come as prepared as possible.
With the help of these tips, you can prepare yourself for the holiday season and get the most enjoyment possible out of this festive time. Remember: you’re neurodiverse, you’re wonderful and the world is a better place because you’re in it.
Happy Holidays to you & yours!
This home-themed painting won our Art Card Design Contest at this year’s 15th Annual Inclusion Art Show and Sale. We’re proud to feature it alongside our holiday greetings this year.
Margaux Wosk is an Autistic self-advocate and Artist. Utilizing the pseudonym “Retrophiliac” since 2008, they have continued to reach various levels of success both in the art world and through online Autistic-led ventures. Using bright and bold colours inspired by the 1960’s and 70’s, Margaux uniquely captures a retro-inspired take unlike anyone else. Their main mediums are acrylic and paint markers on wood, canvas or canvas board. With a profound love for writing, navigatingjourney.com was born, offering a fresh perspective on life, Autism, art and much more. They recently created retrophiliacart.com to promote their artwork. Margaux also runs the very popular “Made by Autistics” Page on Facebook.