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Aspergers Employees and Workplace Anxiety

Many Aspergers and high-functioning autistic employees experience work-related stress. The possible stressors include: social, task-related, and environmental. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Social Stressors—

Many employees with Aspergers experience some level of anxiety in social situations they encounter on the job. For example:

• Employers— A good experience with a caring employer can cause a lasting impression on an employee’s life. A bad experience can also make a lasting impression! While many employers do their best to provide their workers with a positive workplace experience by coaching and advising them on how to perform at their peak, many people with Aspergers are better suited for certain coaching styles and work-related tasks. If there's a mismatch between employer and employee in this regard, the “Aspie” can form lasting negative feelings about work and his/her own abilities.

• Workplace Bullies— Many places of business have anti-bullying policies. Though bullying does still happen in the workplace even with these policies, help is generally more easily accessible than it was years ago. The bad news is that workplace bullying has gone high-tech and may not necessarily happen on the job-site. There are some people who use the Internet (e.g., Facebook) to target a fellow employee that they have a “beef” with. One reason for this is that they don't have to face their target, so it's easier to shed any empathy that they may otherwise feel in face-to-face interactions.

• Workplace Ostracization— There are many reported cases in which the individual with Aspergers didn’t necessarily get bullied in the fullest sense of the term, but he or she - for whatever reason - has a “bad” reputation in the workplace (possibly for being too quirky or self-absorbed in the eyes of others). As a result, fellow employees purposefully ignore and reject the Aspie (a form of bullying with no repercussions).

Task-related Stressors—

The following are some of the main sources of task-related stress for Aspergers employees:

• Work That's Too Easy— Just as it can be stressful to handle a heavy and challenging workload, some Aspergers employees can experience stress from work that isn't difficult enough. Unfortunately, many Aspies are given job assignments that are significantly beneath their potential and capabilities. As a result, they run the risk of developing a cynical, bitter attitude about their employment, which can lead to poor performance, mask the root of the difficulty, and perpetuate the problem.

• Task Anxiety— Many of us experience work-related anxiety when we are moved to a different department or are given a new job assignment. Unfortunately, change is very difficult for people with Aspergers, as they prefer to maintain a consistent routine. Studies show that greater levels of task anxiety hinder performance on the job.

Environmental Stressors—

Certain aspects of an Aspergers employee’s environment can also cause anxiety that can spill over and affect performance. The following are some stressors that Aspies may not realize are impacting them:

• Lack of Sleep— Many Aspies report having sleep problems (often related to chronic anxiety issues). As schedules pack up with overtime, extracurricular activities, and family time, they often get less sleep than they need. Operating under a sleep deficit doesn’t just mean drowsiness, it also leads to lack of coordination, moodiness, poor cognitive-functioning, and other negative effects.

• Noise Pollution— Many people with Aspergers have sensory sensitivities. Noise pollution in the workplace has been shown to cause stress that impacts some employees’ performance on the job.

• Poor Diet— With the surplus of convenience food and the time constraints many people experience these days, the average person’s diet has more sugar and less nutritious content than is recommended. This often leads to mood swings, lack of energy, and other negative effects that impact anxiety levels. This is magnified in the individual who is already experiencing undue stress in other areas of life.

Signs of workplace anxiety include:

•    Withdrawal
•    Excessive shyness
•    Stomachaches
•    Meltdowns
•    Frequently calling in sick
•    Nightmares
•    Negative attitude
•    Cynicism
•    Anger control problems
•    Shutdowns
•    Headaches
•    Feeling unsafe in the workplace
•    Fear of getting laid off or fired
•    Excessive worry and fear about job performance
•    Difficulty going to sleep
•    Loss of appetite
•    Increased appetite
•    Excessive alcohol consumption
•    Drug use

You can’t eliminate or escape anxiety that may occur in the workplace. It’s a fact of modern life. Nonetheless, workplace anxiety is a serious subject. More than one third of American workers experience chronic work-related stress, which is costing American businesses billions of dollars a year in medical bills and lost work hours.

Here are a few simple, yet highly effective suggestions for those who may be experiencing workplace anxiety:
  1. Schedule quality social time. Each week, schedule some time with a friend to just hang out and laugh.
  2. Meditate regularly. Even 5 minutes a day can help lower blood pressure, and can help you control the thoughts that trigger anxiety. 
  3. Learn to say “no.” Being overworked and over-committed leads to anxiety. Don’t feel obligated to say “yes” to everything for fear you won’t be liked.
  4. Reconnect with your spiritual roots. When you’re chronically stressed, it’s easy to forget about your place in the bigger picture. Prayer, meditation, chanting, or other rituals are great ways to get perspective on what’s stressing you – and relieve that pressure. 
  5. Get enough sleep. Work-related anxiety is magnified when you’re sleep-deprived and foggy-headed. 
  6. Get creative. Carve out some time to tap into your inner child (e.g., cooking dinner, handwriting a card to a friend, creating a vision board, etc.).
  7. Exercise regularly. Physical activity releases stress-relieving chemicals. 
  8. Eat whole foods. Processed food can cause you to feel even more stressed than you already are.
  9. Cultivate a grateful attitude. You can take the sting out of negative events by focusing on what’s good in your life. 
  10. Engage in appropriate sexual activity. Sex increases the production of oxytocin (often referred to as the “love hormone”). Before achieving an orgasm, oxytocin levels in the brain surge and are accompanied by a release of endorphins.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Think When You Feel Like Giving Up: Tips for People with Asperger’s

Have you ever felt so beaten up and worn down that you just wanted to quit life? If so, welcome to the club. My name is Sara. I’m 34 years old and was diagnosed with AS at age 26. 

I’ve been asked to share some ideas that I tend to focus on when I feel like giving up, so here goes:

Bravery doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s just a little voice in your head which reminds you that tomorrow is another day – a day in which you can try again. I focus on the good things I will lose if I STOP trying, rather than worrying about the potential mistakes associated with trying.

I believe that the universe has a plan for all of us.  We will see that plan when the timing is right – and not a minute sooner. The problem with some of us on the autism spectrum is that we have little patience to wait for that right timing, and so we give up. “It hasn’t happened by now, therefore, it will never happen,” you might think. Unfortunately, with that thought in your head, you have just guaranteed that the plan the universe has for you will never come to fruition.

If you never step forward again, you’re stuck right where you’re at. If you never go after it again, you’ll never have it.  So, be careful what you say to yourself, because you believe what you say about you more so than what other people say about you.

Life never turns out like we expected it to. This is a universal truth. So, stop thinking that things “should be” different for you right now. Your genetics, the environment you grew up in, your personal choices …all brought you to where you are today. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.

Stay in the present moment, rather than looking back in regret or looking forward in fear. Decide to focus on what you can create in this day. If you do, tomorrow will reveal itself exactly as it should, just as yesterday already has.

Life is about taking just one step at a time, telling yourself that you’re able, respecting your integrity, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes so you can keep moving forward and grow.  If you’re making mistakes, then you’re actually DOING something and getting real world lessons.  Real learning comes from making mistakes.

Some of us with Asperger’s are perfectionistic. As such, we may become devastated when we make a mistake. We look at it as a failure. But, mistakes are simply small stepping stones that lead to success – the opposite of failure, indeed.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. But, DO BE AFRAID of dreading tomorrow.  And DO BE AFRAID of allowing regret and resentment about something that happened yesterday to enter your mind. These thoughts will keep you frozen in your tracks, unwilling to try, unwilling to make a mistake, and therefore unable to learn the associated life lessons.

The more mistakes you make, the more lessons you receive. The more lessons you receive, the more wisdom you possess. The more wisdom you possess, the better decisions you make. And this makes for a more satisfying life all the way around.

Unless you have committed suicide, your track record for getting through tough days is 100% so far. How many times have you looked back at a hugely stressful event and said to yourself, “How did I get through all of that mess?” See! You know how much courage that took. You know how strong you really are!

Discomfort is inevitable – but suffering through the period of discomfort is optional. Giving up is a form of suffering. Viewing mistakes as failures is also a form of suffering. So, if you’ve thought about giving up on relationships, on God, and on life, you owe it to yourself to give YOU another chance.

If you keep pushing, the pieces will all come together eventually. Good things will emerge in your life, even if they don’t turn out exactly the way you thought they might.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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