Self Care, Facing Stress and Anxiety

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In this section: 

Whilst having NDIS supports can make a positive difference in many people’s lives, applying for the NDIS and using your NDIS supports can also be a daunting and time consuming process. It’s normal to feel some stress and anxiety, but it is important to take care of yourself and reach out to your support networks. This section features self care tips and things to keep in mind as you undertake your NDIS journey.  

We know that for many people with disability, the phrase ‘self care’ can trigger memories of being told that these actions could ‘cure’ disability, or having the systemic issues they are facing being reduced to individual ‘failing’ to do the ‘right’ kind of self care.  

When we talk about self care in this toolkit, we are talking about the actions you can take to support yourself through feelings of overwhelm or distress or feeling overwhelmed. Everyone has their own things that work for them, and while they won’t ‘solve’ some of the difficulties that can come with accessing or communicating with the NDIS, using these strategies to ground yourself can help you to feel safer.  

Anxiety About Contacting the NDIS

  • It is normal to be fearful, worried or anxious about contacting organisations like the NDIS.  
  • You may have had bad experiences with health or disability service providers before.  
  • You may be worried about being asked intimate questions and having to supply very personal information.  
  • You might be worried about being judged for your disability, sexuality or gender identity.  

There are several things you can do to manage your anxiety when calling or meeting with the NDIS:  

  • You can ask a friend or family member to be with you when you call.  
  • You can promise yourself that you will do something you enjoy when you have finished the call, like watch a favourite TV show, speak to a friend, or relax in the sunshine.  
  • You can ask a friend or family member to speak on your behalf. You will need to speak to the NDIS directly to give permission for this. Make sure this is someone you trust, as they will have permission to make decisions for you.  

Other Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with the NDIS

  • Acknowledge how you feel Rejection hurts, especially when you put in so much effort. It's important to recognize how you feel and to sit with your feelings.  
  • Shift perspective - Remember you're dealing with a difficult and broken system which isn't accessible. The problem is not you. Remind yourself of your strengths.   
  • Engage in your community and in yourself - You are part of a very diverse and vibrant community, most of whom know exactly how you are feeling. Engage in hobbies and habits that serve you positively.  

Remember that you are not asking for a favour; you have rights as a consumer, including the right to be treated with respect, the right to information about you, and the right to appeal decisions made about you. 

If you are unhappy with the treatment you receive, you have the right to make a complaint about your experience with the NDIA, including complaints about a decision made by the NDIA or the conduct of a staff member.  

Find more information about making a complaint to the NDIA here. 

Keep things in perspective. Remember the NDIS is funding to help you to live your best life, but it’s not your whole life. You’re a whole, complex, fabulous person – with or without the NDIS. 

Look for support from peers who have been through the process before, ask what they did and get helpful tips. 

It can be helpful to remember that the people you're speaking to aren't (or shouldn't be!)  making judgements about you as a person or whether or not you are disabled- they are simply following the processes set out in legislation. 

Managing Emotions

“I love having a cry. I sleep a lot, I talk to friends a lot, I meditate, I journal – I have a word vomit onto the page, then I put it away so I don’t have to think about it. I’ve found my own spiritual practice in the last few years which has really helped me” – Anthony (he/they/she), lives with Tourette’s. 

  • It is normal to get anxious or frustrated with the NDIS application process or long wait times to hear back about your application. The NDIS is a very large organisation, and the time you have to wait to get an answer on your application may be several weeks. 
  • It is normal to feel upset, frustrated or angry if your application is rejected. Remember you have a right to reapply and a right to appeal if your application is rejected. 
  • When applying for the NDIS, you may have to answer questions that seem intrusive and supply deeply personal information. Many people find this experience distressing or traumatic. 
  • This may trigger memories of experiences of past trauma where you felt judged or disrespected. 
  • This trauma is especially prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community, where people have been judged for their sexuality and/or gender identity as well. 

If you’re feeling distressed, you can: 

  • Speak to a friend or someone you trust. 
  • Have a think about the people in your life and who might be able to be a support person for you in dealing with the NDIS. 
  • Speak to a disability advocate. You can find a list of organisations offering individual disability advocacy here. 
  • Contact a service such as ACON’s counselling team (if you are in NSW) or Q Life. 
  • You can also contact informal and online disability support groups such as SQuAD. 

ACON’s HERE for LGBTQ+ communities digital suicide prevention hub has a list of tips on caring for yourself and links to crisis resources.  

Download our guide to Dealing with Stress and Anxiety When Applying for the NDIS here. 

Find out more about the NDIS Journey

Is the NDIS right for you? | Your NDIS application | Your NDIS application was successful – What next? | Your NDIS application was unsuccessful – What next? | Self Care, Facing Stress and Anxiety | Family, Friends and Allies | Language used | Useful Links


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Click here to view / download the NDIS Journey Map.

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