Many of us are familiar with the idea of loving our spouses, children, or parents unconditionally — and we might even try to practice that unconditional love, though imperfectly.
But do we try to love ourselves unconditionally?
Consider whether you do any of these (I sure do):
Criticize your body.
Feel like you need to improve at things.
Feel guilty about things you do.
Feel undisciplined, lazy, unhappy with yourself.
Not feel good enough.
Fear that you’re going to fail, because you’re not good enough.
See yourself as not that good looking.
Feel bad about messing up.
For many of us, there’s an underlying feeling of not being good enough, wanting to be better, wanting to be in better shape or better at things. This isn’t something we think about much, but it’s there, in the background.
What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? What if we took a good look at ourselves, our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and said, “You are perfectly OK. You are perfectly good”?
Would that be a whole different experience for you? Could you accept every single thing about yourself, just as you are, without feeling that it needs to be changed?
I know what many people will immediately say: “But what’s wrong with wanting to improve, with seeing things that need to be improved? Doesn’t feeling bad about ourselves motivate us to change?”
Yes, it can be a motivator. But feeling bad about yourself can also be an obstacle: people who feel that they are fat, for example, are more likely to eat poorly and not exercise, because they see themselves as fat. They are likely to feel bad about themselves and to comfort themselves with food, alcohol, cigarettes, TV, Internet addictions.
What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? What if you loved yourself, laziness and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?
This person who loves herself (or himself) … she’s more likely to take actions that are loving. Doing some mindful yoga, or taking a walk with a friend after work, eating delicious healthy food like beans and veggies and nuts and berries and mangos and avocados, meditating, drinking some green tea … these are loving actions.
Acceptance isn’t stagnation — you will change no matter what. You can’t avoid changing. The question is whether that change comes from a place of acceptance and love, or a place of self-dislike and dissatisfaction. I vote for unconditional love.
Originally published on ZenHabits by Leo Babauta, who allows others to freely re-post his work. Thank you, Leo – Source
“Photo courtesy of Stock Photos/FreeDigitalPhotos.net” Modified on Canva
Statistics indicate that roughly two-thirds of all children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are taking some sort of medication. For some families, medication is a godsend: kids are better able to focus, to manage their emotions and moods, to stay on task. In fact, family life is so transformed that one of the most common challenges we hear from those parents is what to do when the medication isn’t working! This frequently comes up either at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day once the medication has worn off.
Pharmaceutical companies have tried to address this over the years, with long-acting medications, extended doses, and patches you can put on before your child wakes up in the morning. For many of us, those solutions fall short. We want our kids to have some time during the day free from the common side effects of stimulant medication, like sleeplessness & reduced appetite. So what do you do when you can’t rely on medication?
Start by checking with your child’s prescribing medical practitioner. Be sure that your child’s prescription is providing the right level of support. As kids grow and mature, their dosage may need to be adjusted. After that, there are three areas I’d recommend you focus some effort:
Activate the brain: While stimulant medications can be very effective in helping the ADHD brain to focus, they aren’t the only solution. Many parents have found other solutions that are helpful, particularly in filling in the “gap” periods.
Take care of yourself: We often refer to mornings and afternoons as “the witching hours” because they tend to be more difficult times of day for parents. They are tough, not just because our kids’ medication is wearing off (or hasn’t started), but also because they are challenging times for us. You may not be a morning person, or you may put in long hours and be tired and hungry at the end of a day. What can you do?
Plan ahead: Pay attention, or even keep a log, to determine when the problem times are for your child – and for you. Plan accordingly.
Exercise: Have your child go for a run or play for a while before starting homework. Take a break from homework every 20 minutes and do some jumping jacks or have a tickle fight. In the morning before school, take a walk to get the brain up and going quicker.
Nutrition: Making sure that the brain has enough water and nutrients as your child goes through the day. Have your kids eat protein at every meal, and put out healthy snacks to tie them over through homework until dinner. Manage sugar ups & downs if your kid is sensitive, and explore other supplements that support brain health.
Sleep: Easy for me to say, but try to make sure your child has enough sleep each night. That goes for you as well!
Other “brain” stuff: There is a lot of information out there about other brain supports, like meditation, brain training, and neuro-feedback. Be sure to do your research to find solutions that are safe and well-tested.
Twelve-step programs have a tool to help you remember to: H. A. L. T. Avoid intense parenting moments whenYOU areHungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
Know what your triggers are, take a time out when you get triggered or stressed out in helping your child, and try to make sure you are well-rested and well-fed.
It may make sense to work on a big project first thing on Saturday, when the brain is fresh (and the medication is active), rather than doing it after school.
Many teachers will be willing to give you a full week’s worth of assignments in advance, particularly if your child has a 504/IEP in place.
Get yourself ready before you wake your kids to make the mornings go a little smoother.
Divide chores into chunks and do a few at a time, rather than trying to fit the all into a Saturday.
The reality is that for many of us, medication can be a huge support, but it isn’t designed to be a panacea. Conscious parenting requires that we understand the limits and put supports in place, both for our kids and for ourselves. No matter how helpful medication can be, there are going to be times and situations where our kids need our guidance and support, something medication cannot provide.
One more thing. For those of you who cannot or choose not to medicate your child for ADHD, thanks for sticking with this article. These ideas may be even more helpful for you. After all, you might consider the whole day “the witching hour!”
By Dianne Dempster – Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with permission of ImpactADHD™– Source
“Photo courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. AD/HD is usually diagnosed in childhood, and the condition can continue into the adult years. Many individuals with AD/HD are undiagnosed until adulthood (NINDS, 2011).
The common characteristics of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and work tasks, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, inability to stay on task, leaving projects, chores and work tasks unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details are the primary symptoms of AD/HD. Although individuals may have both inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, many individuals predominantly display one symptom more than another. Therefore, the DSM-IV-TR identifies three subtypes that can be diagnosed:
AD/HD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: The major characteristics are fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others when talking, and impatience.
AD/HD predominantly inattentive type: The major characteristics are distractibility, organization problems, failure to give close attention to details, difficulty processing information quickly and accurately, and difficulty following through with instructions.
AD/HD combined type: The individual with combined type meets the criteria for both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type.
What causes AD/HD?
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD (NIMH, 2011). How is AD/HD treated?
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments. Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments (NIMH, 2009).
AD/HD and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Is AD/HD a disability under the ADA?
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC Regulations . . ., 2011). Therefore, some people with AD/HD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.
A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011). For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, visit http://AskJAN.org/corner/vol05iss04.htm.
Accommodating Employees with AD/HD
Note: People with AD/HD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with AD/HD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
What limitations does the employee with AD/HD experience?
How do these limitations affect the employee’s job performance?
What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine accommodations?
Can the employee provide information on possible accommodation solutions?
Once accommodations are in place, can meetings take place to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations? Can meetings take place to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
Would human resources or personnel departments, supervisors, or coworkers benefit from education, training or disability awareness regarding learning disabilities? Can it be provided?
Time Management: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty managing time, which can affect their ability to mark time as it passes incrementally by minutes and hours. It can also affect their ability to gauge the proper amount of time to set aside for certain tasks. It may be difficult to prepare for, or to remember, work activities that occur later in the week, month, or year.
Divide large assignments into several small tasks
Set a timer to make an alarm after assigning ample time to complete a task
Provide a checklist of assignments
Supply an electronic or handheld organizer, and train on how to use effectively
Use wall calendar to emphasize due dates
Develop a color-coded system (each color represents a task, or event, or level of importance)
Allow co-worker or supervisor to add entries on the calendar, or to double-check entries added by the employee with AD/HD
Memory: Individuals with AD/HD may experience memory deficits, which can affect their ability to complete tasks, remember job duties, or recall daily actions or activities.
Provide written instructions
Allow additional training time for new tasks
Offer training refreshers
Use a flowchart to indicate steps in a task
Provide verbal or pictorial cues
Use post-it notes as reminders of important dates or tasks
Concentration: Individuals with AD/HD may experience decreased concentration, which can be attributed to auditory distractions (that can be heard) and/or visual distractions (that can be seen). People with AD/HD report distractions such as office traffic and employee chatter, opening and closing of elevator doors, and common office noises such as fax tones and photocopying.
To reduce auditory distractions:
Purchase a noise canceling headset
Hang sound absorption panels
Provide a white noise machine
Relocate employee’s office space away from audible distractions
Redesign employee’s office space to minimize audible distractions
To reduce visual distractions:
Install space enclosures (cubicle walls)
Reduce clutter in the employee’s work environment
Redesign employee’s office space to minimize visual distractions
Relocate employee’s office space away from visual distractions
Organization and Prioritization: Individuals with AD/HD may have difficulty getting or staying organized, or have difficulty prioritizing tasks at work.
Develop color-code system for files, projects, or activities
Use weekly chart to identify daily work activities
Use the services of a professional organizer
Use a job coach to teach/reinforce organization skills
Assign a mentor to help employee
Allow supervisor to assign prioritization of tasks
Assign new project only when a previous project is complete, when possible
Provide a “cheat sheet” of high-priority activities, projects, people, etc.
Social Skills: Individuals with AD/HD may have limitations in adaptive skills, such as communicating with others, or exhibiting appropriate social skills. This might manifest itself as interrupting others when working or talking, demonstrating poor listening skills, not making eye contact when communicating, or inability to correctly read body language or understand innuendo.
Provide a job coach to help understand different social cues
Identify areas of improvement for employee in a fair and consistent manner
Make attendance at social activities optional
Use training videos to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace
Encourage employees to minimize personal conversation or move personal conversation away from work areas
Provide sensitivity training (disability awareness) to all employees
Encourage all employees to model appropriate social skills
Adjust the supervisory method to better fit the employee’s needs
Allow the employee to work from home
Adjust method of communication to best suit the employee’s needs
Use role-play scenarios to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace
Hyperactivity/Impulsivity: Individuals with AD/HD Hyperactivity-Impulsive type may exhibit over-activity or impulsive behavior. This could be disruptive to the work environment or could inhibit efficient and effective work performance.
Provide structured breaks to create an outlet for physical activity
Utilize a job coach to teach/reinforce techniques to control impulsivity
Allow the employee to work from home
Review conduct policy with employee
Adjust method of supervision to better prepare employee for feedback, disciplinary action, and other communication about job performance
Use services of EAP
Provide private workspace where employee will not disturb others by tapping, humming, or fidgeting
Multi-tasking: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty performing many tasks at one time. This difficulty could occur regardless of the similarity of tasks or the frequency of performing the tasks.
Separate tasks so that each can be completed one at a time
Create a flowchart of tasks that must be performed at the same time, carefully labeling or color-coding each task in sequential or preferential order
Provide individualized/specialized training to help employee learn techniques for multi-tasking (e.g., typing on computer while talking on phone)
Identify tasks that must be performed simultaneously and tasks that can be performed individually
Provide specific feedback to help employee target areas of improvement
Remove or reduce distractions from work area
Supply ergonomic equipment to facilitate multi-tasking
Clearly represent performance standards such as completion time or accuracy rates
Paperwork: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty completing paperwork efficiently and effectively. This is due in part to workplace distractions and difficulty with time management, disorganization, or prioritization.
When possible, automate paperwork by creating electronic files
Use speech recognition software to enter text or data into electronic files
Save time filling out paper forms by completing information in advance, using pre-filled forms, or adhering pre-printed stickers
Use checklists in place of writing text
Supply large quantities of regularly-used forms
Color-code forms for easy identification
Re-design commonly used forms
Use large font
Double space or triple space
Provide adequate space for hand-written response
You’ll find more appropriate accommodations in JAN’s article on Executive Function Deficits. http://askjan.org/media/execfunc.html
Attendance: Individuals may have difficulty getting to work promptly because of the varied activities, processes, and interruptions they may experience while preparing to leave their home and/or during their commute.
Allow flexible work environment:
Modified break schedule
Work from home/Flexi-place
Getting to Work on Time: Employers can have time and attendance standards for all employees. Because getting to work on time is the responsibility of the employee, the following ideas are for employees who are having trouble getting to work on time because of executive function deficits:
Have a routine of putting and keeping things in their place (keys, phone, glasses)
Prepare for the next day’s work the night before
Create a checklist for yourself and others
Place sticky notes on the door, dashboard, or wherever you will see them
Turn off distractions – including cell phones
Set a timer or a programmable watch to pace yourself
Situations and Solutions:
A journalist with AD/HD experienced sensitivity to visual and auditory distractions. The employer provided the individual with a private, high-wall cubicle workspace in a low-traffic area. The employer added an environmental sound machine to mask office noise.
A social worker with AD/HD had difficulty completing handwritten paperwork in a neat and timely fashion. The employer created electronic forms for the employee, which allowed him to type responses. The employer arranged computer files labeled by month to help the employee prioritize open cases. The employer also sent email reminders of deadlines.
An office worker with AD/HD experienced impulsivity and often interrupted co-workers by entering offices without knocking. The employer helped identify appropriate techniques for approaching co-workers, such as keeping a daily list of tasks to discuss with others, then emailing or calling to set aside time to talk about work-related projects.
A retail employee with AD/HD often forgot the closing and cash-out procedures, which resulted in missed printouts of daily sale reports. The employer created a numbered checklist that identified each step for proper closing procedures and identified which reports to run from cash registers. This accommodation benefited all employees.
A delivery person with AD/HD had difficulty with time management. She spent excessive time making deliveries and would forget to return to the warehouse between daily runs. The employer provided a personal organizer watch that could be programmed to beep and display a written message many times throughout the day. This auditory and written prompt helped the employee move quicker from task to task, and helped remind her to return to the warehouse to gather her next load.
A teacher with AD/HD experienced disorganization in her classroom due to clutter from many years of teaching. The employer provided a job coach to help the teacher learn organization techniques, to help separate and store items, and to dispose of previous student work and projects from yesteryear.
Information about JAN
Source – Job Accommodation Network – Accommodation and Compliance Series: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Retrieved December, 6, 2105 from https://askjan.org/media/adhd.html
The Job Accommodation Network is a service of U.S. DOL’s Office of Disability Employment. Article may be reprinted without copyright infringement.
JAN provides free, confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This information provides a starting point in the accommodation process and may not address every situation. Accommodations should be made on a case by case basis, considering each employee’s individual limitations and accommodation needs.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
EEOC Regulations To Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act, as Amended, 29 C.F.R. § 1630 (2011).
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2009). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved November 17, 2011, fromhttp://www.nimh.nih.gov
As an adult with ADHD, you know that it is much easier to follow through on tasks that interest you. So, of course, the more of these you can have on your plate the better.
But the reality is we all have tasks we don’t want to do, and for one reason or another they still need to be on our plate. We can’t delegate, barter, drop or defer these tasks. We need to do them. Now!
Obviously, these are also the tasks that we are most likely to procrastinate on starting, never mind completing.
And, while we are dragging our feet on these tasks, they still take up a great deal of our mental time and energy. Consider the following statements as they relate to a taskyou are putting off.
While I really don’t want to do (fill in the blank), I am thinking about it a lot, even worrying about it.
And thoughts of it will pop into my head at random times, distracting me from tending to my task(s) at hand.
I will likely be behind the eight ball when I eventually get around to it, and will need to put aside everything else to get it done.
Another day. Another fire drill!
So, how do we follow through on those tasks that having us screaming, “I don’t wanna!!!”
What About The Task Turns You Off?
First, figure out what about the task turns you off. Here are some possibilities:
It bores me. Simple as that.
It takes too much time and energy because it is hard for me.
It is not important to me.
I have too many other tasks on my list… “Take a number and fall to the back of the line” is what comes to mind when I think of this task.
My other reasons are…
Once you’ve figured out why you don’t want to do a task, the next step is to figure out what you can do to follow through on those tasks that must fall on your plate.
Because often it is the not deciding and not doing that can contribute significantly to your feelings of overwhelm.
Activating the Reward System
Then, take into consideration the other challenges that may be getting in your way. An understanding of the process that happens in the brain’s Reward System is a good place to start.
In simplified terms:
We make choices and prioritize goals when a sensory stimulus is sent and processed in the brain indicating a reward is on the way.
When a reward is anticipated, dopamine is released to various parts of the brain, which activates our motor functions, attention and memory pathway. (When the memory of this stimulus and associated reward is in place, we will be more likely to tackle the task next time.)
When the reward is concrete, it is easy to do something because we are motivated by the obvious anticipated reward. But here is what may happen when you think about doing the report you dread that is due in two days:
♦ As you look at the bathroom, you think, “I should clean the bathroom. Then I’ll do the report.”
♦ Then when you sit down at the computer, a notification from Facebook comes in. “Facebook, take me away from all of this…. I need a break before I start the report.”
♦ “Wow. Look at all those emails. I really need to answer those before doing the report!”
When deciding to clean the bathroom, look at FB or plow through your emails the stimulus is right in front of you and the reward is immediate. Because the reward for doing the report is not so obvious or immediate, it is harder to make the connection at the moment.
In this simplified version, you can see that your motivation to do a task is related to the immediacy of the reward when all is working as it should be in the Reward System of the brain.
Remembering Your “Why”
True enough. It is important for everyone to make the connection between doing a task that may not be intrinsically interesting and the potential rewards.
Here are some possible starting points:
I want to be successful at my job and doing reports is just part of the gig.
These reports are important to have the data we need to make good business decisions.
The reports actually aren’t that important to me, but I want to be a dependable team player. And Bob really needs these reports…
But you need to have a visceral connection to the payoff, not just an intellectual connection. That is, you want to be able to really feel and see the reward in all colors of the rainbow. To do this you will need to go one step further.
For example, you might want to think about having a visual cue (pictures, quotes totems, etc.) to help you remember what it will feel like when you are successful; you can look at this item in those moments when you think, “I don’t wanna!”
Now you are thinking, “Ok, got it, Marla. I have to make the connection between the task and the reward. But I don’t think that is going to be enough…”
You are right!
Along with a weak working memory, it is believed that there is not enough dopamine in the ADHD Brain to carry out the processes in the Reward System, particularly motor functions and attending.
So, even when you can really feel the reward of a task that does not interest you may still:
feel like you are standing in cement.
avoid it – not do it or think about it.
Not to despair, though. You’ll just have to incorporate a few more workarounds in order to get going.
Knowing Why Is Not Enough
Yes, it is important to acknowledge that there are going to be times you are bored. It happens. And remember that your particular brain chemistry makes it harder than for neurotypical people
Be that as it may, you can still be proactive in meeting the challenge of doing these type of tasks by having a few strategies ready to employ when you feel resistance to doing a task you need to do. Here are a few options:
making a game out of a task, such as “beat the clock.”
setting a timer for the amount of time you think you can tolerate working on a particular task.
timing when you do a boring task to when you take your stimulant medication.
taking a break and doing something else. Then coming back to the task when you have more energy
taking notes during meetings to keep your attention.
using a fidget toy help keep you on task.
What other strategies have you used?
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
Getting started and following through on tasks that are not immediately interesting for you is harder for Adults with ADHD.
But taking the above steps, and getting the support you need, can make it easier!
Like many people today, do you find life overwhelming? Is getting through one day an exhausting marathon? Does your day include kids to be picked up, doctor’s appointments, bills to be paid, and dry cleaning to be retrieved?. Are you afraid to open envelopes for fear of seeing the negative bank balances and the unpaid bills? Are you afraid of wasting time and money on impulsive flings every time you go shopping? It all adds up to a paralyzing sense of doom called overwhelm.
Today’s hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) the pressure is magnified several times over.
Here are some ways ADHD contributes to that desperate feeling.
Number one is poor organization. ADHD is known as the disorder of disorganization. If you have ADHD, you have difficulty sequencing actions (or papers thus the unmanageable piles). Difficulty organizing the events of the day is just one example.
The second problem is an elastic sense of time. You have difficulty estimating how long tasks will take adding to the problem of planning the day.
Third is what I call the slipping clutch or the getting-started syndrome. When you do fix a time to do a task it still doesn’t get done because you can not start. Instead, you get sucked into the internet or the TV or another low priority activity.
Finally, the lack of boundaries makes it difficult for you to say “no”, so you have too many things to do. Poor boundaries also mean that you absorb more than your share of emotional overload; other people’s problems swamp your brain and make it difficult to think coolly about what needs doing.
Take these 6 steps to plan your day and beat overwhelm.
Stop. Recognize that overwhelm has captured your brain and is interfering with your ability to plan and get things done. Take a minute to observe how you are feeling. Take several deep breaths into the abdomen and exhale slowly.
Listen to your self-talk. Change negatives to positives: tell yourself “you can do it”. Talk out loud to yourself at each step as though you were explaining to a another person (your coach for example) what you need to do.
Make a list of the tasks you need to do, estimate the time needed including travel or set up time. Then weigh the importance and urgency of each task. Could some items wait until tomorrow or next week?
Consider what help you can get. Could a husband or a friend pick up the kids?
Plan the day. Group tasks according to location. If you have to go out, consider the time of day. If you must drive during busy times of the day, allow for extra travel time.
Write out the day’s route map and put it in your purse or place it where you can’t forget it. Now you are ready to go. Go!
Still having difficulty? A coach or coaching program can help you stay on track.
“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADDPermission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. She is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone
If you have ADHD and you struggle to fall asleep, you’re not crazy, you’re not being bad and most of all, you’re not alone. Several studies have revealed that people with ADHD are more likely to have irregular circadian rhythms. What’s a circadian rhythm? According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, “circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in your environment.”
Are You Out of Sync?
Circadian rhythms are the changes that happen in your body that make you sleepy at night (when it gets dark) and make you want to wake up in the morning as it grows light. As many as 70% of adults with ADHD complain they have difficulty falling asleep, wake up tired (or not at all without enormous effort) and feel out-of-sync with the rest of the world.
If you work independently and don’t need to follow the same schedule as the rest of the population (perhaps you live on a desert island?!), this may not be a problem. (Sounds pretty lonely though!) However, if you must interact with family, friends, peers, customers or anyone else who’s not on the same schedule as you while they’re awake, this can cause problems.
It’s Not Just “Beauty Sleep”
Falling asleep at 1 or 2 AM may not be a problem if you’re a freelancer who answers to no one in real time and you can wake up at 9:30 or 10 AM, but if you have a day job or if customers expect you to answer the phone between 9 AM and 5 PM, you’ll have to cut your sleep short to make it to the office on time. The resulting lack of sleep will affect your ability to focus, your capacity to deal with and manage stress and the functioning of your working memory.
If you’re “tired” of struggling (wink! wink!) luckily, studies show that you can adjust your circadian cycles with a few relatively simple techniques. As someone who has struggled all my life with insomnia, I have tried many of these strategies myself. Here are a few that have the biggest impact.
Humans are like plants; our internal clock is usually set with daylight. When daylight hits your eyes, your brain signals your body to increase your body temperature and starts secreting hormones, like cortisol, to modify the electrical activity in the brain. In the evening, when the light begins to dim, this triggers the production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. In ADHDers, however, melatonin production is often delayed.
Manage Your Light
If you struggle to fall asleep, start dimming the lights at home as early as right after supper. Stay away from blue-light-emitting sources, like computer screens at least 3 to 4 hours before you need to fall asleep.
Many of my clients with ADHD report dramatically better sleep quality with earlier sleep onset when they engage in cardiovascular exercise (not at bedtime, but during the day!). Cardiovascular exercise is any activity that makes your heart beat faster for at least 20 minutes, such as jogging, taking a brisk walk, moderate biking, aerobics, cross-country skiing, hockey, basketball, skating, etc. Pick one or more sports you enjoy and do at least 20 minutes each day. You’ll find your sleep will come more easily.
Top Up on Melatonin
Studies have shown that supplementing melatonin with light management can advance sleep onset. You can find melatonin supplements at some pharmacies and certainly at health food stores. They work even better when you use them in combination with light management.
Zone into Sleep with Sound Waves
Research shows that the brain is frequency-following, that is, you can train it to fall into a certain brainwave pattern by listening to sounds in that frequency. Our brain regulates our state of wakefulness by changing the amplitude and frequency of brain waves. To fall asleep, we produce Delta waves in lengths of 0.5 to 4 Hz. Some sounds induce our brain to fall into Delta waves. I use the sounds of the ocean and find that it really works for me. My youngest daughter, Kyrie, and ADHDer, had problems falling asleep until we started playing ocean sounds, along with improving her sleep hygiene, at bedtime.
Change Your Mind
Many ADHDers find their thoughts churn at bedtime, which keeps them from falling asleep. By thinking about what happened today or what will happen tomorrow, you’re activating certain hormones that keep you awake. Changing what’s going on in your mind might be as simple as reading stories – not work-related stuff – before bed. If you struggle to put a novel down, read short stories like the ones you’d find in Readers’ Digest.
Do a Mind Dump
If you’re still plagued by concerns over what you have to do, dump all those thoughts in a notebook that you place next to your bed. “Dumping” will help you avoid staying awake because you’re afraid you’ll forget.
ADHDers need to be vigilant about taking care to engage in good sleep hygiene. Lack of sleep DOES NOT CAUSE ADHD; however, lack of sleep can make your symptoms worse, so taking care of your brain and its creative genius by sleeping enough can help reduce your struggles. Everyone, whether or not they have ADHD, needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night; less sleep than that and you’re not able to tap into your brain’s potential.
If you find that one of these strategies has helped you, or if you have your own approach that works wonders, please share it in the Comments section below.
And have a lifetime of great night’s sleep!
By Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin. Linda is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare. Coach Linda Walker
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A series of short articles by Sarah Jane Keyser. Follow the links.
ADD has strengths as well as weaknesses; like heads and tails, you can’t have one without the other.
Attention Deficit Disorder is not an illness (in spite of the name) and there is no “cure”. ADD is a way of life, a difference in the way you see and move in the world.
You can learn to manage the world and use your brain.
There are many ways to train your brain. Usually, a combination of medication, ADHD coaching strategies, and exercise is most effective. Each individual needs to discover what combination works best for him or her.
Here are some ways that you can change your life:
Life Styles for ADD – You can do many things for yourself. A good program includes exercise, what to eat, how to breathe, how to get to sleep and how to enjoy.
Maintaining the Brain – If your car runs on two cylinders you take it to the garage. If your brain sputters take it to a doctor for a checkup.
ADD Coaching Strategies – A coach is a partner who guides you to new ways of seeing yourself and the world. An ADD coach who knows how ADD feels and understands the ADD brain can help you value your strengths and structure your life.
Celebrating ADD – Learn to appreciate the passion and sparkle which are the gift of ADD.
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Learn more about ADHD at Coaching Key to ADHD
Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy, the Newfield Network’s graduate coaching program “Mastery in Coaching” and “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. Sarah Jane is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone.
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ADHD Coaching is a partnership dedicated to you. ADHD Coaching provides support and encouragement for you to follow your passion and realize the visions of your childhood.
Editor’s note: A coach can be anyone who believes in you and cheers you on. Your friends or family, a mentor, or even an employer can help you find your strengths and develop them. It’s important, however, for both of you to understand ADHD and how it impacts your life so that you can work around it. If you cannot afford a personal coach, see Alternatives to ADHD Coachingwhich lists group coaching, self-coaching, and other options.
ADHD Coaching will help you vanquish negative thought patterns and help you build strategies to master organization and time management. New confidence and a healthy self-image provide the motor to climb your personal mountains.
Your coach will listen to your stories of pain and frustration and hear your wholeness, your strengths, and hidden resources. Powerful questions open up new vistas to explore. Making choices leads to ownership instead of victimization. The result is a new awareness of self. Your coach is your loudest cheerleader, and they expect you to succeed.
ADHD Coaching startswith an inventory of where you are now and where you want to go. Many clients want some help organizing, managing time, and surviving overwhelm. You will choose two or three areas on which you want to focus in your coaching.
In following sessions, usually held once a week by telephone, a coach will hear your success report, help you explore problems that have arisen and ask you to choose and commit to your next steps for the next period of time.
A successful ADHD coaching relationship requires honesty and a willingness to change. You will do the work of creating new habits. It is important that this is important to you and not your spouse, parent or employer. A coach must be able to be honest with you. It may be hard, but important for you to learn how others see you.
You have to shift gears all the time. Throughout your day, you transition between thoughts and tasks when you are:
going to work.
starting a new task.
engaging fully in a new conversation.
beginning a meeting.
trying to “shelve” a thought/concern for the time being.
And, because of the challenges with transitioning, getting stuck in a gear is a real possibility for adults with ADHD.
What are specific times when shifting gears is the most challenging for you? Use the strategies below so you can transition with greater ease.
Isn’t it time to stop grinding your gears?
ADHD and Transitions
Transitions can be difficult for you in part because of the challenges of your ADHD symptoms, such as:
Activating – You may have a hard time starting a task because you don’t know how or where to begin.
Focusing – At other times when you do start you may have a tendency to hyperfocus on a task that catches your interest. Alternatively, you may just get lost in the details, whether they are important or not. In either case, it is hard for you to stop.
Managing Emotions – Your emotions – frustration, annoyance, anger, etc. – may get in your way, making it hard to move from one task to another.
Regulating Action – If you are impulsive at times, and jump in before considering all the necessary details, it will obviously be difficult to transition effectively.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Ready to explore some possible workarounds?
Getting There On Time
Whether it is the office, meetings, social engagements, home or other places you may find it difficult to get there on time.
The key is to build your capacity to anticipate andplan for what you need to do in advance in order not to be late in getting from point “A” to point “B.”
I know. You knew that already.
But right now your standard operating procedure when going from place to place may sound something like, “Oh no, I didn’t know it was so late!! Where are my keys? I need that file. Why do I always do this?!!”
If you commonly utter phrase like these, and want to change this so you are not late so often or at critical times, adopt and practice the 4 Steps to Getting Places on Time.
Of course, all that preparation is not going to help you, if you can’t stop what you are doing so you can move on to your next task.
I know this may seem obvious. But it may also be one of the biggest challenges getting in your way of moving effectively through your day.
Here are some of the various strategiesother Adults with ADHD use to make it easier to stop and make the flow of their day smoother:
Have a clear plan for your day so you have a reason to stop. If you are not clear on what you are moving onto next, you may just go down one rabbit hole after another.
Decide in advance how much time you are going to spend on a task and set a timer.
If you are in a hyper focus mode, you may ignore the timer. So get up and stretch or take a short walk when the timer goes off. Physical movement can help you get out of hyperfocus.
You may even want to change your environment by moving to a different room to work after the timer goes off.
If you know it may be hard to stop working on a particular task because it is particularly captivating, you may decide to do it only after finishing less interesting tasks.
Don’t start. If you know it will be hard to stop, and you don’t have enough time to engage in the task the way you want, don’t start it. Do it when you have more time.
Which of these strategies are you going to try this week?
The above steps seem pretty straight forward, right?
But, as an adult with ADHD, you may feel all “jumbled” at times when you have to move quickly from one task to another.
So, to fully extract yourself from one task so you can fully engage in your next task, give yourself as much white space as possible between tasks as you move through your day.
Instead of rushing from one task to the next:
Stop and take note of where you are on a task before pushing it to the side. It will be easier to pick up when you get back to it and you will feel more confident that you won’t forget what you were doing.
Take a short walk to clear your head and think about whether you are doing what you need to do.
Review the agenda or your notes before going into a meeting.
Even if you don’t have time to make a full plan for the next day, stop a bit early and make brief notes to make it easier to start the next day.
These are just a few ways to slow down and take stock throughout your day so you can feel more grounded and transition easier.
Ready to slow down?
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, you get that being able to plan, stop and switch gears are all key to transitioning well between tasks.
But what about activating, starting, initiating?! Once you stop, how can you make it easier to shift into first gear again and get going on your next task?
You don’t want to stall out.
The first step is to chunk down your project into parts. Because, if you are not clear on what your need to do, procrastination can easily set in – you don’t start.
The amount of time you choose for each part will depend on your attention span for that particular task, energy and time available. While the allotted time for each part may vary, be sure each part is discrete and you can see a clear beginning and endalong with adue date.
You don’t have to have your whole plan prepared in advance. But you do want to see the next few steps as you are working. To see how this might work let’s look at the exampleof writing an article.
Determine your objective, as this will guide you and keep you from going off into tangents.
Review recent questions you have received, news items and other sources to get ideas for a topic.
Decide on the topic.
Decide on the title of the article. Again, this will help guide you as you write.
Create a rough outline of the article. You can always change it, but at least you have a loose structure of what you want to include.
Write a draft of each section. Don’t worry about too much careful editing as you go along. That will just bog you down.
Edit the whole article at once to make sure it hangs together and you have met your objective.
Add, delete or rewrite sections as needed.
If you have someone editing your article, send it to them
Make corrections per the suggestion of the editor.
If you don’t have an editor, do a final edit.
The second step is to create an environment that will help you get started.
Choose the optimal time of day for you to work on a particular task. If you are writing an article, figure out when you do your best writing.
Clear your space of potential distractions. Turn off your email notice. Close your door. Turn off the ringer on your phone.
Have enough food and water, so you don’t get distracted by thirst and hunger.
Set a timer.
Put on the proverbial horse blinders and remind yourself, “I’m doing this and not that!!”
Play music or white noise, if that will help.
What can you do differently to get started on a task you are working on today?
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
Slowing down and creating a plan for better transitions can help Adults with ADHD feel more grounded and get more of the right stuff done.
By ADD coach Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD.
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This is How you Treat ADHD based on Science with Russell Barkley, Ph.D.
How to refuel your Fuel Tank and be less ADHD. Create external scaffolding to support Executive Functions. Behavior modification techniques work for children. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or coaching works for adults. Develop specific strategies for time and organization management that work for the individual.
13-minute video from Part 2 of the 2012 Burnett Lecture – Includes slides and lecture on same clip.
“The back and front parts of the brain involve two processes, knowledge and doing. ADHD splits them apart… I don’t care what you know, you won’t be able to do them… You’ve got a real problem on your hands.”
“ADHD is a performance disorder. A disorder of intention, not attention. It’s an executive function disorder (EF)…. It’s time blindness. You won’t be able to aim your behavior toward the future to care for yourself as effectively as other people can…”
“They know what to do. They just can’t do it. It ends up looking like a problem with motivation… The only way to deal with executive deficits is to re-engineer the environment around them to help them show what they know… All treatments must be out there, in their lives, where you have to build that scaffolding…”
“Build that “ramp.” You must reinforce external reminders and consequences. Put them “in the now…”
“EF deficits (Executive Function) are neuro-genetic in origin. Therefore, medications may be essential for most (but not all) cases. Meds are neuro-genetic therapies.”
“ADHD is the diabetes of psychology. It’s a chronic disorder that must be managed every day to prevent the secondary harms it’s going to cause… ADHD is the most treatable disorder in psychiatry… The biggest problem is, most people don’t get treatment.”
See links to the complete lecture below the embedded video.