Visiting the supermarket to shop for food or get a delivery slot can be much harder at the moment. Supermarkets are restricting the number of people allowed in the shop at any one time, but that might mean having to queue outside. Staff are working really hard to organise things and keep shelves well stocked, but all their usual products might not be available.

There are some things you can do to make your visit less stressful.

1.Before your visit

Do a bit more advanced planning and preparation than usual.

Identify a time where it’s likely to be less busy; the end of the day can be quieter. You, or someone who can help you, could even phone ahead and ask when the quieter times usually are.

Prepare a more detailed shopping list – and do an ‘if not this then, this’ so that if you can’t get a food or other item you would really like to get, you have a backup. This helps to reduce anxiety in the supermarket.

Use our resources to remind yourself or your loved one about the social distancing rules.

2. When you visit

Make sure you take what you need with you to cope with the supermarket and any queues there might be.

Take noise-cancelling headphones and something that gives you comfort and reassurance during stressful points.

Download our I am autistic card and take it with you; you can hand this to staff or anyone else necessary at times of stress or when you need some help.

3. During your visit

Try not to get too stressed if people aren’t following any direction arrows or strictly observing social distancing rules; everyone is trying hard.

If you or your loved one struggle to follow the social distancing rules, try not to panic – if this happens it might be a good time to use your I am autistic card.

4. After your visit

Take time to de-stress and focus on something positive. Remind yourself that not everything has to be perfect but you’ve achieved something important.

If the trip didn’t go well, try not to let it put you off trying again. What could you do differently next time? What could you plan or take with you that might help?

If you decide that visiting supermarkets is too stressful, that’s OK. Look at some of the other options available such as essential item boxes, using smaller, more local shops, or click & collect slots that supermarkets are now offering.

For information about what the major supermarkets are doing please visit this page.