Self-Care for Neurodivergent Individuals: Prioritizing Wellness for ADHD and Autism

For many neurodivergent individuals, including those with ADHD and autism, self-care is a crucial aspect of well-being. However, due to their unique challenges and experiences, you may face difficulties in finding and implementing effective self-care practices if you are neurodivergent.

In this blog post, we will explore why self-care is essential for neurodivergent individuals, and provide tips and strategies for developing a self-care routine that can help manage the difficult symptoms of neurodiversity while promoting overall health and happiness. By understanding the importance of self-care and tailoring it to your needs, neurodivergent individuals can take proactive steps to improve their well-being and lead fulfilling lives.

Challenges Neurodiverse People May Face With Implementing Self-Care Practices

If you are a neurodivergent person with ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, OCD, or any other neurodiverse expression, you may face unique challenges when it comes to self-care. Many neurodiverse people struggle with executive functioning, which can make it challenging to plan and follow through with self-care activities. It is also common to experience sensory processing issues, which can make it difficult to find self-care practices that are comfortable and accessible for you.

For example, while a neurotypical person may delight in wearing perfume as a self-care practice, a person with a sensory processing disorder may experience headaches and nausea from the same experience. While certain music may be soothing for some, it may be intolerable for other neurodiverse people.

Additionally, neurodivergent individuals often have difficulty with social interactions and may feel isolated or misunderstood, which can make it harder to seek out and engage in self-care activities that involve connecting with others. Many also struggle with emotional regulation and may find it challenging to manage their feelings and cope with stress, making it more challenging to prioritize self-care. If this describes you, you are far from alone!

Many neurodivergent individuals have experienced negative interactions with healthcare professionals or have struggled to find providers who understand their unique needs and perspectives. Some service providers refuse to work with certain neurodiverse populations, stating that they do not have the qualifications nor experience. This can make it difficult to access resources and support that can help with developing a self-care routine.

All of these challenges can make it more difficult for neurodivergent people to find and implement effective self-care practices. However, by understanding your unique needs and challenges, and by seeking out resources and support from professionals and peers, you can develop self-care routines that work for you and improve your overall well-being.

Neurodivergent woman with Headphones Demonstrating Self-Care

Proper Self-Care is Crucial for Neurodivergent People

Many neurodivergent individuals, including those with ADHD and autism, may experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Self-care can provide a proactive way to address these challenges and support mental health over time.

It is common for neurodiverse people to face unique challenges in their daily lives that can contribute to burnout, exhaustion, and emotional dysregulation. Self-care can help alleviate these challenges by providing a way to rest, recharge, and find moments of calm throughout the day. Additionally, engaging in regular self-care activities can help you build resilience and coping skills, which can be helpful when facing stressful situations.

Self-care is also important for neurodivergent individuals because it can help them build self-awareness and self-advocacy skills. By taking the time to understand your unique needs and preferences, you can develop self-care routines that are tailored to your specific challenges and strengths. This can help you feel more in control of your life and more empowered to advocate for your needs in other areas as you discover what works best for you.

Self-care also helps improve physical health. Many self-care practices, such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep are essential for maintaining physical health and reducing the risk of chronic conditions. By prioritizing self-care as a neurodiverse person, you can improve your physical health and reduce the impact that physical health challenges can have on your mental health.

Self-care is crucial for neurodivergent individuals because it provides a way to manage unpleasant symptoms, build resilience, and improve overall well-being. By prioritizing self-care, you can support your mental and physical health and feel more empowered to navigate the challenges of daily life.

Tips and Strategies for Developing a Neurodiverse-Friendly Self-Care Routine

Here are some tips and strategies for developing a self-care routine that can help manage the challenging symptoms of neurodiversity and promote the overall health and happiness of neurodiverse individuals:

  1. Identify your needs and preferences: Everyone has different self-care needs and preferences, so it’s essential to start by identifying what works for you. Consider what activities make you feel happy, relaxed, and fulfilled, and what triggers stress or anxiety. You may find it helpful to keep a journal or use an app to track your mood and energy levels to help identify patterns and determine what self-care activities work best for you.
  2. Prioritize self-care: It’s important to make self-care a priority and schedule it into your daily routine. Try to set aside dedicated time for self-care activities, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes a day. You can also break self-care activities into smaller steps that can be easily incorporated into your day-to-day life, such as taking a break to stretch or practicing deep breathing exercises. It is important to schedule this time and commit to following through.
  3. Experiment with different self-care activities. There are many self-care activities to choose from, including mindfulness practices, exercise, creative activities, sensory experiences, and socializing with friends or family. Try a variety of activities to find what works for you. It’s also important to remember that self-care is not just about pampering yourself but about finding activities that help you feel balanced and fulfilled.
  4. Create a self-care kit: Creating a self-care kit can be a helpful way to have all of your self-care items in one place. This can include items like a stress ball, essential oils, coloring books, or anything else that helps you feel calm and relaxed. Having a self-care kit can make it easier to engage in self-care activities, especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You can also create a list of self-care activities that is easy to refer to when you are feeling overwhelmed and may have a difficult time thinking of a way to get back to your calm center.
  5. Seek out support: Remember that self-care doesn’t have to be done alone. Consider joining a support group or talking to a mental health professional, counselor, or coach who can help you develop self-care strategies that are tailored to your unique needs and challenges. Additionally, reaching out to friends or family for support and connection can be a helpful part of your self-care routine.

If you want ideas for specific self-care practices to try out for yourself, check out this list of self-care practices from Good Housekeeping.

Final Thoughts on Developing A Self-Care Practice for Neurodiverse People

By prioritizing self-care, experimenting with different activities, and seeking support when needed, neurodiverse people can develop a self-care routine that promotes overall health and happiness. It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish, but rather a necessary part of maintaining physical, mental, and emotional well-being.


Autistic Perspectives is dedicated to giving first-hand accounts of life and useful tips through an autistic perspective.

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