Being neurodivergent in a world designed for neurotypicals is exhausting.
Constantly adjusting your behaviour to suit the expectations of others takes considerable effort. Sometimes you're amping up; sometimes, you're holding back. Most of the time, you're just winging it because who knows what the rules are?
It's not surprising neurodivergent people are prime candidates for burnout.
I experienced burnout in my thirties. Fortunately, I have not experienced it since then for one reason - I understand and manage my energy levels.
Understanding and managing your energy levels can help keep burnout at bay.
To better understand your energy levels, carry out an energy audit. In other words, track your energy levels during your daily waking hours. I recommend doing this for at least one day.
Every hour, on the hour, assess your energy level on a scale of one to ten (one being low and ten being high energy). This data will enable you to identify your most and least energetic times in the day.
The next step in your energy audit is identifying the activities that deplete and restore your energy. This activity, co-created by Maja Toudal and Dr Tony Attwood, is known as energy accounting.
Make a list of all the activities you can think of that deplete your energy - these are withdrawals from your energy bank account. They can be allocated a score out of 100 (20 being a small withdrawal and 100 being a significant withdrawal that saps all of your energy). Examples of activities on my withdrawal list include meetings, socialising, and screen time.
Then, list the activities that restore your energy - these are deposits in your energy bank account. Again, allocate a score out of 100. Examples of activities on my deposit list include naps (40) and knitting (20).
The idea with allocating scores like this is that if you make several withdrawals, you are mindful that some deposits will be required to balance everything out.
Once you know your most and least energetic times in a typical day and the types of activities that deplete and restore your energy, you can plan your week more intentionally.
For example, if you've planned a night out during the week and socialising tends to deplete your energy, ensure you have some restorative activities planned for the following day. Alternatively- if it works for you - build up your energy throughout the day to spend it in the evening. The idea is to create balance.
Need Some Help?
The best thing about the energy audit process is that you can do it yourself without fancy tools. If you like structure, I've put together a workbook to help you. You can access the workbook by becoming a member of The Library.