I believe in the virtue of bravely and intentionally facing sensory discomfort – once in a while. Most of the time I try to minimize it, because for autistics, even little discomforts can add up to a lot of stress over time.
Today, while cringing at the thought of putting my cold groceries away in my cold freezer, I had an epiphany: I can wear winter gloves indoors! The gloves shielded my hands from the icy packages, and I wondered why I never thought of that before.
Moreover, I wondered what caused me to think of it this particular time, and how to spot similar solutions more easily in the future.
I think, for me, it takes four steps:
- First, I have to believe that comfort is possible – that discomfort is not inevitable. Whether or not this is fully true, it’s a useful frame of mind for getting ideas.
- Notice what feels uncomfortable. This is harder to do if I skip the first step – I end up feeling anxious without recognizing why.
- Think about what might help me feel more comfortable, or look online to see what others have tried.
- If possible, do that thing.
It isn’t a perfect formula. Some things are just going to feel uncomfortable no matter what. But other things have the potential to improve.
At least, it’s always worth a try.