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  • Writer's pictureAmy Duffy-Barnes

Energy Conservation and Neurodivergency: Creating a Life that Respects Neurodivergent Flow




Neurodivergent individuals, particularly those with autism and ADHD, experience the world in unique ways. Their brains are wired differently, which means they process information and navigate their surroundings differently from neurotypical individuals. Living in a neurotypical world can be energy-draining for neurodivergent individuals, as they often expend more energy to adapt and function within societal norms. In this article, we explore the concept of energy conservation and how it can empower neurodivergent individuals to create a life that respects their natural flow.


Engaging in Energy Conservation:

  1. Self-Awareness and Acceptance: The first step towards energy conservation is developing self-awareness and accepting one's neurodivergent identity. Understanding how your brain works differently can help you identify energy-draining situations and prioritize self-care.

  2. Embracing Neurodivergent Strengths: Neurodivergent individuals often possess remarkable strengths, such as intense focus, creativity, and unique problem-solving abilities. By recognizing and utilizing these strengths, they can channel their energy toward tasks and activities that align with their natural flow.

  3. Establishing Boundaries: Setting clear boundaries is crucial for energy conservation. Neurodivergent individuals may need more downtime or alone time to recharge. Communicate your needs to friends, family, and colleagues, and create a schedule that allows for breaks and self-care activities. Take all the time you need to be okay.

  4. Create a life that works for you. This isn't easy to do in a capitalist society, but finding a way to have work that moves at your flow and pace, whether that is a 30-hour work week, working from home, working the hours you choose to get a job done, finding good fit work, etc, is essential to maintaining a neurodivergent balance.

  5. Sensory Regulation: Sensory sensitivities are common among neurodivergent individuals. Managing sensory input can help conserve energy. Identify triggers and create a sensory-friendly environment by incorporating tools such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, or comfortable clothing. Also not working under day glow lights or having coworkers or others disrupting your flow.

  6. Prioritizing Self-Care: Engaging in regular self-care activities is essential for energy conservation. Find activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it's reading, practicing mindfulness, engaging in hobbies and interest areas as often as you need to, or spending time in nature.

  7. Simplifying and Organizing: Neurodivergent individuals may benefit from simplifying their environment and routines. Minimize distractions, declutter spaces, and develop organizational systems that support productivity and reduce mental fatigue. Autistic individuals often need a visual sensory experience and aesthetics will be important to them, they need to fill their space with the things they love.

  8. Effective Communication: Communication can sometimes be challenging for neurodivergent individuals, leading to misunderstandings and unnecessary energy expenditure. As an autistic individual, I spend a lot of extra energy rephrasing things I want to say into a language more easily understood by neurotypicals. I also have to interpret what they are saying to me, we do not speak the same language. Learning effective communication strategies, understanding neurotypical language, using visual aids, and assertiveness skills (standing up for neurodivergent ways of communication when you need to), can help conserve energy in social interactions.

  9. Connect for Support: Building a support network of understanding and hopefully other neurodivergent individuals, including friends, family, or support groups, can provide emotional support and validation. Seeking therapy and support from neurodivergent professionals experienced in working with neurodivergent individuals can also be beneficial.

Conclusion: Energy conservation is crucial for neurodivergent individuals to create a life that respects their unique flow and reduces unnecessary stress and fatigue. By embracing neurodivergent strengths, establishing boundaries, practicing self-care, and finding strategies to navigate sensory sensitivities and communication challenges, neurodivergent individuals can conserve their energy and let their lives flow in more neurodivergent ways. We aren't neurotypical and shouldn't be trying to expend our energy or flow our lives the way that neurotypical people do.

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