Coping Skills and Techniques for Neurodivergents in the Workplace

Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Existing as a neurodivergent professional is tough, no matter what profession you’re in. While workplace accommodations can give you some stability, it’s important to have strategies in place for when you inevitably face situations that trigger anxiety and overwhelm.

That’s where coping skills come in. Use these techniques to help maintain your composure and self-soothe. Regular practice will help strengthen your body’s resilience during difficult times at work.

Intro to Nervous System Regulation

The nervous system plays a leading role in how you feel in your body because it tells you if you’re feeling relaxed, stressed, safe, unsafe, etc. Our experience of stress depends on how our body delegates between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system.

Parasympathetic nervous system.

This is the default mode for your nervous system. It is responsible for digestion, muscle recovery, healing injuries – all the things our bodies need to function.

Sympathetic nervous system.

This activates when our bodies perceive a threat to our safety. This looks like increased blood flow to muscles, increased heart rate, heightened vigilance, etc.

What is a dysregulated nervous system?

If you struggle to manage stress, you may have a dysregulated nervous system. This means the sympathetic nervous system is staying activated for too long or too frequently.

Your body may begin to perceive normal occurrences, like getting an important email or having a one-on-one meeting with your manager, as threats to your safety and well-being.

Excessive time spent in sympathetic nervous system control limits our body’s capabilities to stay healthy. Without the parasympathetic nervous system, we struggle with proper energy storage, immune function, digestive function, muscle recovery, and overall feelings of wellbeing.

Proactive vs. Reactive Coping Skills:

Proactive coping skills are practices that you can employ on a regular (daily) basis to help stabilize your mood.

Reactive coping skills are techniques you can use during moments of overwhelm or anxiety so you can regain control sooner.

The Importance of Awareness

Many neurodivergent individuals struggle with interoception—the ability to sense what’s happening in their body. Mindfulness increases interoception, helping individuals become more aware of bodily sensations, so they can avoid reaching critical points during high-stress situations. Awareness of what’s happening in your body is key, as it will help guide you to adopt appropriate coping skills and strategies.

Download the Full Info Sheet

Inside, you’ll find a comprehensive list of proactive and reactive coping skills, as well as additional tips and resources for managing nervous system dysregulation!

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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