Category Archives: Strategies

Creative Routines to Fulfill your Goals

By Joan Jager

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. For now, the ideas are flowing and hope sustains me. That will have to be enough.

I’m taking my own advice again this month, better late than never. I’ve also written another post full of resources for you to explore. Writing these newsletters, with long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular. But ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best. Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation.

(Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.)

I saw a cartoon last week with two characters talking. The first one asks, “Why do you think that 2020 will be better? The second replies, “There will be flowers.” The skeptical creature retorts, “There are always flowers. What makes this year any different? Then, looking over the other’s shoulder, he wonders, “What’s that you are doing? Our optimistic fellow simply answers, “I’m planting flowers.”

And therein lies my both my dilemma and my hope. Choosing wrong will have consequences – adding yet another failure to my already sketchy history. My coach, Jennie Friedman, recommends first imagining how the “flowers” or goals will look and feel when achieved. What will success look like? What’s in it for you? Why is it worth the effort? The stronger your picture, the more likely it is that you will be enjoying your own garden this year.

For those with ADHD, setting a goal is just one of many decisions. Making it happens requires creative thinking. Neither the importance of a task or depending on willpower works well. Because the ADHD brain works so much better when interested, goals first need to be something we can get excited about, invested in SO MUCH that you will not have to depend on “shoulds” or shame to propel action. Only then can we create a PLAN for positive and sustainable action. With this new approach, it becomes much more probable that this year there will indeed be flowers!

In the past, my best tools for success have been using small and sustainable actions to create habits and build routines that move me forward.  As Darius Foroux says in “Stop Trying to do Everything  “Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

Things add up. You learn one skill. Then another. You finish one project. Then another. Over time, your accomplishments add up to form an impressive feat.”

Identify those “things” that are most appealing, important to your values, or necessary for the future imagined. It may be a cleaner house, better health, looking good, more money, or happier family life. Traditional guidelines for housekeeping, organizing, weight loss or planning techniques can be helpful, but many methods don’t come naturally to those of us with ADHD. Our memory fails us. We may lose track of what we were doing every time something new attracts our attention. We often fail to follow through on commitments to yourself or others. Over time, we come to lose faith in ourselves.

When the goal reflects your internal values, however, your natural strengths and talents come into play. See Self-advocacy for ADHD: Discovering your Strengths or Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths for more information. These not only compensate for problems from ADHD, but they also make most tasks feel almost effortless.

Your progress need not be so hard-fought. Try making small changes, usually by linking them to already established routines. Linking taking your medication with brushing your teeth is one example Taking five minutes to plan your day with your first cup of coffee is another. When you get home from work, you might bring in the mail and immediately throw away any junk mail.

Whatever your final intent, the first steps towards creating habits to add to your daily routines should be easy to implement. Actions should ideally be small enough to prevent an emotional reaction of alarm, fear or overwhelm by the task ahead. To help you get overcome those barriers and get started, ADHD coach Sue West provides us with 20 Momentum Strategies to Combat Procrastination.

Create routines to make larger changes a reality. Your reward comes as each day goes a little smoother. You begin to string a series of successes that move you towards the future you want. Small actions build new habits, and your routines provide the structure and support for areas that we struggle with.

It’s not just getting things done that matter. Many of us fail to meet such basic needs as eating, sleeping, resting your brain or controlling your emotions to keep from procrastinating, being overwhelmed, or succumbing to perfectionism.  We rush towards productivity without the self-care we need to sustain progress. I recommend 16 Steps to Better Self-esteem with ADHD by Kari Hogan yet again because it excels in providing strategies to meet your basic needs, to feel whole, and enjoy more success in your personal and public life.

For more ideas, ADDitude Magazine just put out an article by Michelle Novotni with more specific “ADHD Hacks” that can be helpful when “tweaked” to work for you.”  My 25 Rules for Life: A Practical Cure for ADHD Shame and Stagnation 

“Think of ADHD as a marathon, not a sprint”, she says. “To be a successful marathon runner, you have to conserve your energy, pick your battles, and pace yourself. You have to plan for the long haul.”
Her tips include:

  1. Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection. As long as you’re making progress toward your goals, I encourage you to consider your efforts a win. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Value the Power of Praise. Praise is a way of sharing love and building self-esteem
  3. Quiet the (Inner) Critic.

Like anyone, and especially if you are a child or adult with ADHD, we need to feel loved and accepted before we can keep our feelings under control and move forward towards our goals. This control is also known as self-regulation. Children need acceptance from their parents and adults that guide them, but so do grown men and women. Adults may need to “re-parent” the wounded part of themself – to connect with and work on accepting that inner child who bears the scars of being misunderstood and misjudged in childhood. I highly recommend Learn to Parent Yourself, an article by Sharon Martin.  “If we didn’t get age-appropriate discipline, unconditional love, models for healthy relationships, or the skills to understand and manage our emotions and behaviors, we’re likely to struggle with these issues in adulthood. Adults often think they should just innately have these social-emotional skills – but these are learned behaviors.”

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has written about the art of  Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself.

“What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? Leo says. “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”?

“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?”

“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.”

Coming from a place of love and understanding, you can work within your own values and interests. The more you can put boring, mundane, or difficult duties on automatic, the less time you have to manage the most damaging aspects of ADHD. You can live and work more “in the flow”, using the way the ADHD brain is motivated, not by importance but by interest, challenge, and deadlines, and in ways that match your most treasured values in life.

Your routines provide the structure to do what you “need to do” but are not inspired by. Habits and routines help you get to what you WANT to do by handling those necessities of life that may not even be on your radar otherwise. Your routines should not look like anyone else’s. They should reflect your own values, minimum standards, and ease of following the steps to the routine.

For instance, I hated cleaning the bathroom, but having a clean sink with polished chrome was important to me. I started using the toilet paper method of cleaning the bathroom.  Now, every time I use the restroom, I grab some tissue, clean up the sink, spot clean the countertop, and polish the chrome. When I see hairs on the floor or in the tub, I scoop them up. If these areas look fine, I’ll take a minute to address the toilet, getting dust and hair off the seat and top of the tank, and clean up the floor around the toilet too. Same for the tub and floor, spot clean and wipe up hairs. By doing these small tasks throughout the day I seldom have to deep-clean the bathroom.

Now really, how many of you now believe that the toilet paper method the best way to keep the bathroom clean? But it works for me. And that is what is important. You will need to develop your own habits and rules. Ask yourself, “What the least thing that I can do that will move me towards my goals or projects?”

You may soon find that learning to plan your day becomes vital. Sara Jayne Keyser has a very simple list of 6 Steps to Survive ADHD Overwhelm.   If you have a busy work and home life, I love the Next Action List planner by Learn, Do, Become. Printable and podcast with directions. For an easier to use and less structured format, you can start with a Simple Weekly Planner from Emily Ley. Use 2 pages to make up a week – Just split the bottom sections of the second sheet for Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find a daily planning sheet among her other printables.

For those of you collecting more “hacks”, we have a number of useful articles.  46 Small Steps to Save Time from Sue West has easy tips to help you work with Executive Functioning Challenges.
ADHD coach Marla Cummins provides us with 20 Valuable Tools to Enhance your Memory. I wrote about more resources for planning and household tips in Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD featuring 9 resources that I have used to build routines.  A good starter article for housekeeping would be The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home that Leo Babauta has generously shared.

Still, despite years of treatment and instituting numerous coping strategies, I continue to struggle to accept and value myself just as I am.

I am sure that I am not alone in this. I was recently inspired by the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I have the lyrics to a simple song, I Like You as You Are.

I Like You as You Are
Lyrics by Josie Carey | Music by Fred Rogers

I like you as you are
Exactly and precisely
I think you turned out nicely
And I like you as you are

I like you as you are
Without a doubt or question
Or even a suggestion
Cause I like you as you are

I like your disposition
Your facial composition
And with your kind permission
I’ll shout it to a star

I like you as you are
I wouldn’t want to change you
Or even rearrange you
Not by far

I like you
I-L-I-K-E-Y-O-U
I like you, yes I do
I like you, Y-O-U
I like you, like you as you are

Recommended Pinterest Boards
Habits, Routines, and Systems for ADHD
House, Home, and ADHD
Basic Self-care for ADHD
Planners, Journals, and Calendars

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash – Modified on Canva.com

There will be Flowers! ADHD and the New Year

Welcome to 2020.

Once again, the New Year has come and gone without any action on my part to name any “resolutions”. My ideas for goals are still rolling around in my brain with no specific starting date, commitment, or accountability. I’ve decided that’s okay with me.

I saw a cartoon last week with two characters talking. The first asks, “Why do you think that 2020 will be better? The second answers, “There will be flowers.” The first retorts, “There are always flowers. What makes this year any different? Looking over the other’s shoulder, he then asks, “What’s that you are doing? Our optimistic fellow simply answers, “I’m planting flowers.” And therein lies my both my dilemma and my hope.

Imagining how the “flowers” or goals for my life might look like is just the first choice. They need to be something I can get excited about, invested in SO MUCH that I will not have to depend on “shoulds” or shame to create a PLAN for positive action. For now, my hope sustains me.

There will be flowers! (Flowers to be named later.)

I’m taking my own advice again this month. Better late than never. Moving towards those yet unnamed resolutions, I look to my best tools for success in the past, using small and sustainable actions to create habits and build routines that move me forward. As Darius Foroux says in “Stop Trying to do Everything ”, “Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

“Things add up. You learn one skill. Then another. You finish one project. Then another. Over time, your accomplishments add up to form an impressive feat.”

Continue newsletter here>>>

Once I identify those “things”, that are creating problems in my life, I can try out small changes, usually by linking them to already established habits. When they work, they will eventually create routines to make larger changes a reality. My reward comes as each day goes a little smoother and I begin to string a series of successes behind me.

It’s not just getting things done that matter. Many of us fail to meet such basic needs as eating, sleeping, or resting. Your brain is already hampered in its ability to perform the necessary executive functions of the brain, those skills whose development is delayed – that give us the ability to coordinate actions needed to effect positive change for the future. The ADHD brain struggles with the ability to plan, keep items in working memory, move past procrastination, overcome overwhelm, or succumb to perfectionism. We rush towards productivity without the self-care we need to sustain progress.

I recommend 16 Steps to Better Self-esteem with ADHD by Kari Hogan for an easy to understand process to help you meet your basic needs and progress towards feeling whole and successful. ADDitude Magazine just put out an article by Michelle Novotni with more specific “ADHD Hacks” that can be helpful when “tweaked” to work for you.” My 25 Rules for Life: A Practical Cure for ADHD Shame and Stagnation.

“Think of ADHD as a marathon, not a sprint”, she says. “To be a successful marathon runner, you have to conserve your energy, pick your battles, and pace yourself. You have to plan for the long haul.”
Her first tips include:
1. “Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection. As long as you’re making progress toward your goals, I encourage you to consider your efforts a win. Be kind to yourself.
2. Value the Power of Praise. Praise is a way of sharing love and building self-esteem
3. Quiet the (Inner) Critic.”

Like anyone, and especially if you are a child or adult with ADHD, we need to feel loved and accepted before we can keep our feelings under control and move forward towards our goals. This control is also known as self-regulation. Children need acceptance from their parents and adults that guide them, but so do grown men and women. Adults may need to “re-parent” the wounded part of themselves – to connect with and work on accepting that inner child who bears the scars of being misunderstood and misjudged in childhood.

To help you with this, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits wrote about the art of Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself. He writes:

“What if we applied unconditional acceptance of who we are? He says. “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”?

“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?”

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.”

Coming from a place of love, you can work towards better within your own values and interests. The more you can put boring, mundane, or difficult duties on automatic, the less time you have to spend trying to manage the most damaging aspects of ADHD. You can live and work more “in the flow”, using the way the ADHD brain is motivated, not by importance but by interest, challenge, and deadlines, and in ways that match your most treasured values in life.

Your routines provide the structure to do what you “need to do” but are not necessarily inspired or motivated to do. Habits and routines help you get to what you WANT to do by handling those necessities of life that may not even be on your radar otherwise. Your routines should not look like anyone else’s. They should reflect your own values, your own minimum standards of “good enough”, and the ease of following the steps necessary to complete the routine.

For instance, I hated cleaning the bathroom, but having a clean sink with polished chrome is something that is important for me. I started using the toilet paper method of cleaning the bathroom. Now, every time I use the restroom, I grab some tissue, clean up the sink, spot clean the counter top and polish the chrome. When I see hairs on the floor or in the tub, I scoop them up. If these areas look fine, I’ll take a minute to address the toilet, getting dust and hair off the seat and tank top and doing the floor around the toilet too. Same for the tub and floor, spot clean and wipe up hairs.

By doing these small tasks throughout the day, I seldom have to deep-clean. Even the tub and shower are easy. I have a soft toilet bowl brush that looks like a mop. I just spray Awesome cleanser with bleach that I get from the dollar store, wait a minute and wipe down with the “mop”. I don’t even have to get on my hands and knees.

Honestly, how many of you now feel that the toilet paper method the best way to keep YOUR bathroom clean? But it works for me. And that what is important.

You will need to develop your own habits and rules. Ask yourself, what is the “least thing that I can do” that will move me towards my goals or projects. If you have a busy work and home life, I love the Next Action List planner by Learn, Do, Become: Printable and podcast with directions. For a less –structured planner, you can download a weekly planner from Emily Ley. Choose the Simplified Weekly Planner. Use 2 pages to make up a week – Just split the bottom sections of the second sheet for Saturday and Sunday. You can also find a daily planning sheet among her other printables.

For those of you collecting more “hacks”, I wrote about more resources for planning and household tips that I’ve used with success in this newsletter, “Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD.” See these 9 tips to build routines. A good starter article would be The Quick Start Guide to a Decluttered Home that Leo Babauta has so generously shared.

For hundreds of extra ideas, I also have three Pinterest pages, House, Home, and ADHD, Habits, Routines, and Systems for ADHD, and Basic Self-care for ADHD.

Through all my years, my biggest struggle remains learning to accept and value myself just as I am. I am sure that I am not alone in this.  Writing these newsletters, long posts full of resources to explore has never been easy for me nor really very popular,  but ADHD advocacy is what gets me up in the morning and collecting information, sharing, and offering support is what I do best. Turns out there’s even a name for it. Curation. Google definition: cu·ra·tion – /kyəˈrāSHən/ – the selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.

I was recently inspired by the lyrics to a simple song from the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’ve also included a video of the more well-known song “It’s You I Like” that includes Mr. Rogers’ conversation with his guest Jeffery Earlinger.

I Like You as You Are
Lyrics by Josie Carey | Music by Fred Rogers

I like you as you are
Exactly and precisely
I think you turned out nicely
And I like you as you are
I like you as you are
Without a doubt or question
Or even a suggestion
Cause I like you as you are
I like your disposition
Your facial composition
And with your kind permission
I’ll shout it to a star
I like you as you are
I wouldn’t want to change you
Or even rearrange you
Not by far
I like you
I-L-I-K-E-Y-O-U
I like you, yes I do
I like you, Y-O-U
I like you, like you as you are

It’s You I Like (7-minutes)

Until next month,

With hope, but no hurry, for the new year.
Take care,

Joan Jager

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com

ADHD Advocacy and Social Media: “Play Attention”

Changing your working hours to playtime makes all the difference.November 2019 Newsletter

Hello again,

Welcome to the chilly nights of November. This begins the holiday season traditions and getting together with friends and family to celebrate. Holidays, however, often break down established habits and routines and thus challenge normal coping skills. The lack of structure and increased social demands of the season can be a problem for both kids and adults with ADHD. As Erin Synders of Honestly ADHD says in Six Tips for Handling the Holidays,  “We keep coming back year after year torn between the dread of the ADHD-fueled chaos and the hope for something different and more meaningful this holiday season.” If you need more tips on surviving the holidays for yourself or the kids, see our Pinterest Board, Holidays and other Celebrations.

November is also a time for expressing gratitude. This will be my family’s first Thanksgiving without our mother, so expressing my thanks for the year is a little tough. But then I realized that even small things can be a blessing. One thing that helped get me out of bed and kept me going the past month was by following other advocates, searching for the best they had to offer, and sharing on social media. Thank heaven I can call this part of my “work”, so I could use my time to “Play Attention.”

Changing my working hours to playtime made all the difference. The ADHD brain wants stimulation, challenge, novelty, deadlines, and works best when very interested in a project. It’s not laziness or uncaring. It’s a glitch in the way the brain works. Emotions also get in the way with fear of failure, perfectionism, and shame stopping progress. Weak Executive Functions contribute to the problem. Poor planning systems, not being able to picture the first steps, or what the finished project should look like are all examples of what keeps us on track.

I began my advocacy efforts 5 years ago by posting my research for an ADHD non-profit on the “crack” of all social media formats, Pinterest. At the time, the format was perfect for my need to help others with ADHD because many small steps created a finished project and following the stats on “repinning” offered quick rewards that encouraged me to keep going.

Later, I added a website, but maintaining and building my site feels like WORK! I wanted to keep on “playing, so I started a Facebook page. This offered a great opportunity to encourage others while also providing quick clips of valuable information as well as a laugh or two.

Today, many other individuals and groups offer ever more interesting content to support understanding ADHD and advocacy efforts. Together, we are attracting attention and influencing the lives of ever more people. It’s a group effort. Indeed, my featured articles this month come from freely shared writings on various support groups and informational pages.

ADHD and Learning Disability advocate, Nichola Parody, reached out to me on Facebook messenger. I soon began following her new page Heidi and Me, Our Neurodiversity Journey. As a public service, she posted  An Open Letter to my Child’s Teacher.   She describes in some detail her child’s individual challenges and strengths the teacher may expect to see and offers tips on tactics that have worked in the past. The way I see it, she says, “My child’s successful education depends on teamwork, with you and I understanding and supporting each other.” Her example provides a good template to follow in introducing your own child to a new teacher, babysitter or even family members that struggle to understand ADHD.

I found ADHD Marbles: An Analogy on the ADHD Reddit page.  It begins,  “HAVING ADHD IS LIKE HAVING TO HOLD ONTO 100 MARBLES TO BE CONSIDERED AN ADULT…You’re trying to manage all the stuff that neurotypical people are able to manage but it’s just too much. The marbles keep falling out of your hands. And everybody else is giving advice…. It gets discouraging.”

You may have your own analogy, the way you like to explain the experience of having ADHD. If you haven’t come up with your own description yet, maybe it’s time to work on one. Sharing your story in simple metaphors is a great way to combat stigma.

For a bit of fun, I love to follow Dani Donovan,  who creates mental health comics. Her insightful chalk drawings/comics describing ADHD symptoms and how they impact children and adults are funny as well as informative and offer gentle lessons to help others understand ADHD a little better. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook – Support Dani’s work through Patreon.

You can also find “Comics about the daily struggle with ADHD” on the ADHD Alien. Created by Pina, her work is also found on her Tumbler page.  Her Patreon page offers the first views of her work and invites your ideas for her next work. Her comics were originally inspired by the often misunderstood expression of inattentive ADHD, but have expanded to include many different types and other ADHD symptoms. I particularly like the Time Blindness series.

Of course, you can always find the best comics, memes, articles, and videos on ADD freeSources. I invite you to explore ADD freeSources.net.  ADHD Websites and the Find Support section list a number of social media sites that I follow.  Enjoy  ADD freeSources on Facebook or see our many Pinterest Boards.   I know that some of us can get “sucked in” by social media, so be careful. A little bit of time on the right sites, however, can go a long way to provide information, support, and encouragement for your own journey with ADHD.

 

Until next month, take care,

Joan Jager

ADHD Mayhem to Self-Control: Self-care and leading with your strengths

Change a life of strife into one of thriving with ADHD.Newsletter September 2019

Welcome to Fall everyone,

Love the weather, but I’ve still got a lot of home repair and yard work to finish up.  It’s like going back to school after a long vacation.  I’m getting ready by setting boundaries that protect my time and energy to let me focus on the upcoming projects. I’m also breaking down the entire list to tackle one project at a time and rewarding myself each step of the way.

Fall can be a difficult time difficult for parents and children with ADHD in the family as well. Returning to school brings increased pressure for all family members. Moving ahead without undue stress is a matter of attitude and strategies to inspire action.

I am convinced that for children, understanding ADHD and how it impacts their life is one of the best ways to learn what they need to increase their well-being. For information as well as a bit of fun, see my Kids ADHD Page – Things to read, do and watch. For parents, parent coach Dianne Dempster writes about using self-care for better self-control of parenting skills in  Four Things Every Successful Super-Mom (and Dad) Knows!  Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you want to be is what is important.

.Managing ADHD is Possible

ADHD pioneer Russell Barkley, Ph.D. explains, “First, we must understand that most ADHD management is not a problem of knowing what to doIt’s a matter of doing what we know.” 

In her mini-workshop for teachers, ADHD educator and advocate Mary Fowler describes in detail many specific tools to help children “do what they know” through simple support techniques. See Increase On-Task Performance for Students with ADHD.

“External scaffolding is needed – like developing habits and routines, getting comfortable with transitioning between activitiesstrategies for starting and finishing projects as well as controlling one’s emotional responses.”

“What you need to know about Attention Deficit Disorder:

  • Accept that supports may be needed across the lifespan of a person with ADHD.
  • Interventions have to happen in the here and now on an as-needed basis.
  • *** The strategies ONLY work when they are used.”

 

The Art of Thriving with ADHD

For adults with a late diagnosis, Thriving with ADHD follows many of the same principles. You may be surprised to know that they aren’t so much about productivity for its own sake but more about how you are feeling about yourself. They are as much about accepting your unique personality quirks and gifts as they are about learning strategies to overcome your difficulties.  Author Kari Hogan says, “Take advantage of your strengths. Identify what you’re strong in and find ways to do more of it.  When you realize “you’re a natural” at something, this is almost always an indication that you are playing to your strengths… “Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not.” See Tools for Discovering your Strengths for ideas on how to use your strengths to meet your challenges and advocate for yourself. Kari’s strategies are outlined in 16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem for ADHD Adults

  1. “Your first step is STRUCTURE.
    By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
  2. The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
  3. Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities….”

Community

ADHD communities are extremely supportive and a wonderful place to learn about your diagnosis and what to expect. “When you feel lost and alone, it’s comforting to know that others get it. … My best teachers have been people like me.” Support groups have been a vital part of my own treatment plan. It’s easier to recognize strengths in others than in yourself. Members of my “ADHD tribes” have helped me recognize many talents that I had discounted because of my difficulties in other areas. An online community will do, but meeting in person or through a video Zoom connection is even more powerful. See our sections on Finding Support for ADHD and Options to Personal ADHD Coaching for help discovering your own “safe place.”    For an amazing feeling of community, you might want to attend the 2019 International Conference on ADHD in Philadelphia, PA. Save the date! Thu, Nov 7 – Sat, Nov 9 –  (Earlier sessions for professionals begin Thu, Nov 6.)

That’s it for this month. Remember, focusing on organization and productivity tools can only get you so far. Self-care, self-awareness, and self-acceptance are the keys to self-control and finally being able to bring our lives into order.

Take care,

Joan Riley Jager

ADD freeSources.net

Facebook and Pinterest pages

 

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash – Title photo created on Canva.com

Memory and Organization Tools

ADD freeSources.net

ADD freeSources Newsletter: August 2019

Remembering What You Want

This month we feature ADHD: 20 Tools to Enhance your Memory. Our thanks to the award-winning blogger and ADHD coach Marla Cummins for sharing these many useful tips. Minimize your frustration with these core strategies that you can learn to use on your own.

Short term (working) memory, as well as long term memory, is often weak in adults with ADHD. You may not hold information long enough to follow through on it. Because you do not hold onto information long enough it also does not enter your long term memory.
Even if you do capture that memory, you may have difficulty remembering your intention to do something in the future or have difficulty recalling information.” Memory is just one Executive Function, but it affects how effective your other efforts will be at planning and propelling actions. A few tips to keep your life in orders include:

  1. Write it down. (On a notepad, planner and/or calendar.)
  2. Use apps to manage your to-do lists.
  3. Develop a new strategy by tying it to another habit…
Get Organized

We also have  9 Ways to Get Organized with Minimal Effort by professional organizer Donna Smallin Kuper. She says, “If you want a cleaner, happier home, stop wishing you had a magic wand and become the magic wand!” You can’t go wrong if you follow these basic strategies.

  1. Start somewhere, anywhere.
  2. Break large projects into mini-projects.
  3. De-clutter in short bursts.
  4. Stop fighting with your stuff.
  5. Use apps
  6. Act as if you are organized.
  7. Let go of perfect. (Done is good enough.)
  8. Practice gratitude.
  9. Get support – Join Donna’s Unclutter Facebook page for free organizing support!

One thing I’ve found helpful is to not expect everything to work right from the beginning or fail. At a matter of fact, I assume that something will go wrong. (Either in starting the new habit or keeping it useful over time.)Then I try to identify just what did or did not happen that got in the way. Where did my bag of tricks fail me? Only by knowing where my sticking points are can I know what tactics to try the next time.

Lately, I have not been using my calendar and planning system despite a long period of success. Many areas of my life and work have been on hold for the last two months and I was getting quite frustrated with myself.

Finally, I realized that my new computer setup, using a monitor and keyboard connected to my laptop, meant that I no longer had room for my planner on the right-hand side of my desk. I couldn’t easily jot things down as they came to mind, plan the day, or keep track of my schedule.

Eureka! A little rearranging made space my space for my planner again. And it worked! I’m back on track. At least until the next time things go awry. Meanwhile, I keep trying.

Take care of yourself,

Joan Riley Jager

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To the Mom with the ADHD Child

Guest post by Michele Cook

 

Recently I saw a post on Facebook from a frazzled mother begging for someone to tell her that her ADHD child would grow up to be a productive, well-adjusted adult.  I have ADHD.  I also have 2 boys with ADHD, so I figured I would share a little insight to help all of the moms out there pulling their hair out.

Some Reassurance

Before I get started with practical tips to help you out, I want to reassure you, your child will be okay. Having ADHD as a child is miserable, but having ADHD as an adult can actually be an asset.  As long as you learn to manage the energy and focus the energy on the good, you will be great.

As a child, you need to sit still and focus through hours of school, and then you come home and have to sit still through hours of homework and then sit through dinner.  This is a recipe for disaster for someone with ADHD.  We need to MOVE. We need breaks in our focus and we need to answer at least a few of the random questions running through our heads. Young children do not understand how to verbalize this, and they understand even less how to manage it.  This makes for frustrated teachers, frustrated parents, and frustrated children.

As an adult, your responsibilities are entirely different.  You need to be able to wear many hats, to switch focus many times a day, and to run around for most of the day.  Adults need to be able to get our work done, take care of children, keep the house in some semblance of order and make our spouse a priority.  Somewhere in there we also have to stuff in exercise and taking care of ourselves.  For some people with ADHD, this is an environment they thrive in

 

Most of my adult life I have had at least 2 jobs. Right now I have a full-time job as a railroad signalman. I write this blog. I just finished one book and plan on having a riding lesson journal and a mystery novel out by the end of the year.  I participate in one large mastermind group, one small mastermind and the ladies circle at my church.  Many people say “how do you get it all done?!?!”  Honestly, the answer is ADHD.  I have excess energy, the ability to switch focus quickly and I have learned how to manage my brain for maximum effectiveness.  (Well most of the time anyway!)

Real-Life Tips

My children have different degrees of ADHD. Between the three of us, we have come up with some pretty good ways to manage our ADHD. We are becoming productive members of society and students with 4.0 averages.  In full disclosure, it took me until I was 35 and back at college.  Thankfully my children figured out good strategies by their high school years.

The Homework Battle

“Sit there until it is done!” my dad bellowed at me again.  I stared down at the page. In 4 hours I had barely been able to finish 4 problems.  Guess I will be here all night, I thought with a sigh.  Then my brain went back to planning the layout of the barn I would build when I grew up.  

 

Some of the things that have helped one or all of us.

  • Get some exercise first. Sports, hiking, running, playing tag and pillow fights can all be used to burn off some energy before asking your child to concentrate.
  • Break it up.  Either by time or number of problems.  Something like complete these 15 math problems correctly and then you get 10 minutes of play.  If your kids are young (under 12) PLAY! Make it fun.  Put your socks on and see who can slide the farthest across the hardwoods, have a dance party or have a mini Top Chef challenge. Do this for a week and the homework gets done, and you all sleep better.
  • Be Okay with Movement. My youngest and I are pacers.  If we are on the phone, we are usually pacing in circles in the house somewhere. This drives my husband crazy but living in a house full of people with ADHD he has learned to accept it.  Accepting that movement is a natural part of your child’s personality will keep everyone happier.
  • Answer the QuestionsOccasionally our brain gets stuck, we have heard some strange question or seen something that piqued our interest, and we can not get it out of our heads. Help your child by teaching them to research. Books, Google, and libraries are all wonderful resources to someone with ADHD.
  • Give them a small notebook. If they are old enough to write, give them a small notebook. Tell them if they start to lose focus, write down the new topic that has invaded their brain in the notebook so they can come back to it later. Sometimes just that few minutes to take a few notes on the new topic can refocus them.

The Bedtime Battle

Similar to the homework battle, the bedtime battle can be attributed to too much energy and a brain that is still whirring like crazy. Some days they go to bed like angels, some days the demon invades.  I was a demon on more days than I would care to admit and bedtime can still be a tough thing for me and my boys.  We don’t always have the answers but here are some of the things that help us.

  • Hot tea or hot chocolate.  Both help to promote relaxation.
  • Brain DumpsGrab a journal and dump every thought that comes into your head for 15 minutes.
  • PJs right before bedPutting on PJs on right before bed gives the body a physical signal that it is time to go to bed.  This one will take a little while to work, but it will help.  So no hanging out in PJs unless it is time to go to bed.
  • Reading before bed.  Reading can be a great way to relax your child’s brain. If your child can’t read yet, read to them, if they are learning you read a page and let your child read a page.
  • Create a short routine. Remember kids with ADHD have trouble focusing, so a routine can help, but only if you keep it short.

Weighted BlanketsThis one is a new one to me but it explains why my favorite blanket is a very heavy hand crocheted blanket. There is some good research on this one so even though it isn’t something I have tried; I thought I should include it.

 Give Yourself and Your Child Grace

I am not going to lie, even if you find some great ways to help your child, there are still going to be days you want to pull your hair out.  On the bad days, give yourself and your child a little grace.  No child will be perfect every day. No parent will be perfect every day.  Give yourself a break, do the best you can and everyone will survive.

A Blessing and a Curse

ADHD has been both a blessing and a curse in my life.  It allows me to switch my focus between many things and gives me plenty of energy to get it all done.  I will never have a desk job, I will never sit through a movie without doing something else at the same time but I have learned to embrace the good and accept the bad.

 The one question I get asked more than any other is “How do you get so much done?” The answer: I have ADHD and I know how to use it.

If you have found some things to help your child manage their ADHD please leave them in the comments to help all the other moms out there facing similar issues.

 

About the author:  Michele Cook wears a lot of different hats in her everyday life. She is a Christian, a wife, a mom an author, and a communications specialist for an administrative company.  Her journey has not always been easy. She uses that experience to help you find your way out of the darkness and into the light – to inspire you to be the best you can be and to love yourself.

Originally posted at https://michelesfindinghappiness.com/2017/01/16/mom-with-adhd-child/

 

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My Five Biggest Weaknesses (and How I am Turning Them into Strengths)

Sit down and consider some of your weaknesses and then make a plan to overcome themGuest post by Michele Cook

Have you ever considered what your five biggest weaknesses are? Mine have been smacking me in the face recently and I figured it was time to face up to them. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to. In fact, I didn’t even want to face up to the fact that these things existed in my life. I was happy to sweep them under the rug and pretend they didn’t exist. Except that never works. So in a bit of motivation for you and accountability for me, I thought it was high time I put them out there in the light where I could examine them from every angle.

Biggest Weakness #1 – I hate asking for help.

I don’t even like asking my husband for help! I always think of other people are too busy, I don’t want to bother them, they wouldn’t want to help me, I don’t want to put them on the spot – and on and on.  The truth is allowing someone else to help me is a way to strengthen the relationships I have with other people. I get great joy out of helping someone. I feel pride when someone asks me for help. Why would I want to deny someone else that joy? Why would I think other people aren’t willing to help when it is something I enjoy doing so much?

The truth is, I shouldn’t. The truth is, I should be looking to collaborate with people on projects, to ask experts in their field questions, and to just plain ask for help when I am having a rough time. This is number one on my list for a reason and to combat it, I have to diligently squash that little voice in my head every time he pops up. I have to say, “No, I am going to give so and so the opportunity to help”.

So far this has been a struggle, but as I see more and better results, I am learning. My relationships are stronger. My marriage is stronger. I come away feeling like someone else has my back and it’s a great feeling.

Biggest Weakness #2 – I doubt my expertise and life experience.
Sure my life might be great as a cautionary tale but as an expert?

It took me a long time to launch my site about farming and rural living because I didn’t believe I was qualified to talk about these things. Forget the fact I grew up on a farm. No need to mention I can give shots and draw blood from most any farm critter. Sure I had a hugely successful garden this year, but didn’t everybody?

Can’t everyone hop on a piece of equipment and operate it? Of course not!

If someone else had said that to me I would have looked at them like they had three heads. Half the people I know can’t operate a lawn mower let alone a backhoe. So why was I feeling so unqualified? The answer lies in both the size of my place (a little over 3 acres) and my knowledge of farming. A three-acre farm isn’t much and my small flock of chickens and herd of goats felt tiny in comparison to many of the farmers I know. And there was the rub. Comparison. That dirty little word that makes us all feel less then we are.

To get over this one, I asked for help. (Go me!) I asked people what they were curious about or what they would like to do with their small acreage. The response was pretty overwhelming and I wound up with a year’s worth of blog posts in a matter of minutes.  Stop comparing and do what you do as good as you can do it.

Biggest Weakness # 3 – I put everyone and everything above myself.
I quit my job so I could focus on farming and writing books, but the truth is I wrote more books and did more for my business when I was working full time. WTF. How could I not have a full-time job and be getting less done?

I had to take a hard look at where my time was going and set some serious boundaries. Many of my friends and family would say “Oh you work from home so you have time to do XYZ”. The truth is, I don’t. Running a business and writing books is serious work, and it takes serious time to get those things done.

I started using my vision statement more and more to evaluate the things I was doing. If it didn’t line up where I wanted to go, the answer was no.

Biggest Weakness # 4 – I loathe self-promotion.

Maybe it’s the introvert in me, maybe it’s that dang little voice in my head, but I truly loathe self-promotion. If you are going to own a business or even if you want to climb a career ladder, self-promotion is part of the game. How would I get customers if I didn’t promote my business? If I didn’t say, hey this is a best-selling item that adds value (or tastes delicious in the case of my sold out spicy pickles) how would people know the option was even available to them?

I had to realize self-promotion didn’t have to be icky. I didn’t have to run around yelling “pick me, pick me!” All I had to do was create excellent products and services and show people their benefits. Instead of walking up and down the aisle at the farmer’s market yelling “GET YOUR SPICY PICKLES HERE!! SPICY PICKLES!! GET EM” HERE!!” I could just point to the jar and tell people it was a top seller.

When someone asks about my book on buying your first horse, I don’t have to tell them my life story and qualifications. All I had to do was to point at the 5-star reviews and show them how my book has helped other people in their situation. This was an eye-opening process to me and I am slowly putting it into practice.

Biggest Weakness #5 – I am easily distracted which leads to disorganization.
If you have read any of my posts on ADHD, this one might not come as a surprise to you, but it was something I thought I had a good handle on. I was wrong. When I started looking at the time I spent scrolling through my Facebook feed or playing games on the phone, I was embarrassed. All these distractions were wreaking havoc on all of the organizational processes I had in place. It’s hard to stay on track when you are watching random videos on YouTube.

This led me to really look at my processes and see what things I could do better and where I needed to give myself some leeway. Here are just a few of the things I did to protect me from myself.

  • I started leaving my phone in the bedroom where I couldn’t hear any of the buzzing or dinging.
  • I close my computer when I am not using it so I don’t hear the buzzes and dings.
  • I schedule play time
  • I brain dumped my to-do list, and then organized it into bite-sized chunks
  • I started using a timer

The truth is that working for yourself takes discipline. A discipline I am slowly developing. Doing just these few things is helping me stay more organized and less distracted. Next, I plan on tackling my processes to see what’s working and what’s not.

What are your five biggest weaknesses? Have you ever considered them or do you just sweep them under the rug? My challenge to you is to sit down and consider some of your weaknesses and then make a plan to overcome them.

 

About the author: Michele Cook is a mother of four, including two boys with ADHD and has ADHD herself. Like most people with ADHD, she has many projects going at once. She is a published author, a blogger, a communications specialist and owns a small farm in the mountains of Virginia. Her motto is “ADHD is my superpower” You can visit her site at Michele’s Finding Happiness 

Originally posted at https://michelesfindinghappiness.com/2018/10/03/my-five-biggest-weaknesses-and-how-i-am-turning-them-into-strengths/

 

Photo by Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash Modified on Canva

Pills Don’t Teach Skills: ADD freeSources Newsletter

Welcome to the carnival of life.

It’s almost springtime. The earth and sun will warm soon and we’ll see a renewal of growth that can inspire our own growth.

We’re finally thawing out here in the Northwest. It’s amazing, the snow has barely melted, but we already have Snowdrops, my earliest spring bulbs popping up all over. With more light in the day, I can feel my mood lifting and am finally feeling more productive. Once again, my February newsletter is going out the final day of the month. (I thought I was a little bit ahead, but it turns out that February is a short month. Who remembers things like that?)

You need more than meds to function well with ADHDIf you’re struggling too and could use a few new strategies, our latest article, “How to Make ADHD Work for youPills don’t teach skills: Manage Your ADHD with Behavior Strategies” offers a number of great ideas from basic health needs (like Eating, Moving and Sleeping) to a number of helpful ADHD hacks.

My thanks to our generous guest author, a new blogger, Tia of Little Miss Lionheart.

Tia found out she had ADHD in addition to anxiety at the ripe old age of 28 and went on a quest to figure out what that meant for her. What she discovered was life-changing and her blog was born. Little Miss Lionheart’s goal is to serve as every woman’s guide to ADHD and help you turn the challenges of ADHD into an advantage.

I love the comment one reader left.

“Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, many pointers, and understanding of ADHD! – It’s comforting to know I’m not alone and can gather support and acceptance with knowing I/we’re special and unique and able to embrace the way we are made and use it for our good, and too for those around us!” Wendi

Read “How to Make ADHD Work for you” here>>>

Meanwhile, I talk to myself to help overcome my fear of writing, perfectionism, and procrastination. I used a few personalized mantras to keep me going this month “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify,” “Put a Box Around ( Also known as Increase structure and Limit the Variables,) “Go for Enough, Don’t worry about Perfect, ” “Just Touch it” and “One step at a time”.

Your job is to discover whatever works best for you, your child or other loved ones. It’s not easy to learn to live well with ADHD, but it’s worth it. Do the Work! You won’t be sorry.

Enjoy any sunshine and warmth that your weather brings this March. It would be great to be able to put the snowshoes and shovel away for another year.

Take care,

Joan Jager

Snowdrops Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Title photos – both for Facebook and Pinterest – created on Canva.com

 

How to Make ADHD Work for You

You need more than meds to function well with ADHDPills don’t teach skills:

Manage Your ADHD with Behavior Strategies

Guest post by Tia of Little Miss LionHeart

This post contains links to other articles on Tia’s website as well as her Affiliate Links.

 

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, think that’s what’s going on for you, or you have another issue with similar challenges, the symptoms can be overwhelming and medication, though helpful, isn’t a cure. For me, there’s been a gap between the effect of the meds and what I need in order to be functional.

I still struggle with getting big projects done–procrastinate starting them, can’t get myself to finish the annoying little details once most of the project is completed. I still forget things–like accidentally leaving my husband’s lunch out on the counter overnight instead of in the fridge where it belongs. Yeah, that happened last night.

When it comes to managing your symptoms, behavioral strategies become really important, or so I’ve learned for myself. I’ve discovered some practical tips to help bridge the gap.

Practical Health Strategies for ADHD

Exercise is Your Trump Card

Exercise is good for many things; it’s only to be expected that it’s one of the most helpful things you can do to naturally or behaviorally work with your ADHD. Regular exercise can help you improve focus and memory, calm impulses and reduce hyperactivity. It also helps improve sleep. Daily exercise is the goal but for many people that may not be realistic. Set your sights on exercising more days than not. More vigorous exercise may be most helpful but moving your body more, in general, is really what we are going for.

Mind Your Diet

Whether you are on stimulants or not on stimulants, your diet is a really important factor in ADHD management. It’s been said that many ADHDers (myself included) tend to crave carbs and sugar but all the simple sugars really mess with your attention, focus, impulse control, and hyperactivity. That’s not to say you have to cut out carbs entirely, just that focusing your diet on protein and fiber and choosing complex carbs like brown rice over pasta and pastries is most helpful.

Eat regularly. Eat balanced. If you are on stimulants, it’s easy to forget to eat. Don’t fall into that trap. Set a timer if you have to but not eating regularly can decrease the effect of your medication and hurt your body in the process, making you feel weak and dizzy (guilty on that one, but I’ve learned my lesson).

Sleep. Like, good sleep.

Sleep is another one of those things that can help your medication be most effective or hurt it’s impact. If you aren’t on medication, it’s still going to have a significant impact on your ADHD symptoms. We’re fighting an uphill battle as most ADHDers have trouble sleeping according to research. Lucky for you, I wrote an entire post on how to get good sleep. All strategies tested by your’s truly 😉 You can find it here.

How to Use Your ADHD Mind to Your Advantage

The Big, Important Question to Get Things Done

Using this question for myself has been a HUGE help in motivating myself to get things done that I need to get done. Sitting still for long periods of time is hard for me, as you can imagine, and even though I love writing, I don’t always love the process of writing. That’s where I developed this strategy. Let’s say I have to sit down and write my notes (THE WORST! I hate doing notes with a passion but they are an absolutely necessary evil). I have never experienced wanting to do my notes because they are the worst and most of the time I dread them and put off doing them and experience anxiety even at the thought of sitting down to do them.

One day I started asking myself, “What do I need in order to want to do this?”

I couldn’t think of something that would excite me about them but I thought of a few things that you make me dread it less and tolerate it better. I have to ask myself this question every time I have to write notes. Sometimes it’s a trip to the coffee shop to do them in a different environment. Sometimes it’s on my couch with a cup of hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and a delicious smelling candle burning. I still didn’t want to do them, but I did want the coffee and the environment and that helped me tolerate the notes.

When my doctor told me I had to start exercising to help with my ADHD symptoms, I was kinda dreading that mostly because I find the gym boring and I don’t run. I asked myself this question and found that it doesn’t feel like exercising when I’m teaching myself gymnastics. Now it’s really easy to get myself to exercise and sometimes it’s actually hard to get myself to stop exercising because it’s something I actually enjoy. I found a way to want to exercise.

Using this question as a motivation strategy has been a game changer for me.

Meditate with self-compassion

Meditation is a funny topic when it comes to ADHD. It’s one of the most effective strategies for managing ADHD symptoms and yet it’s also harder for ADHDers to meditate than it is for other people. Why? Duh, our attention likes to wander! I have found a few strategies helpful. One, I tend to do better meditating when I’m listening to a guided meditation and especially when I’m listening to one that uses imagery. The combination of auditory and imaginary imagery is enough to help me stay *mostly* on track. When my attention wanders, I just gently bring it back knowing that’s just par for the course and I keep going.

Self-compassion specific meditation is a really effective form of mindfulness that teaches us to have a better relationship with ourselves and helps us lessen overwhelming and painful emotions and change our self-talk. Those of us with ADHD are often pretty hard on ourselves when it comes to our challenges and the painful experiences we’ve had as a result. Constantly beating yourself up or shaming yourself for the challenges you face (whether ADHD or not) only make your symptoms worse and creates new problems, too. Mindful Self-Compassion has been a huge help to me personally in helping me accept myself as I am–challenges and all–improving my confidence and restoring my sense of worth, while also lowering anxiety. (Check out Tia’s website for some beginning exercises and if you like that, check out Kristen Neff’s workbook to go deeper into the practice. Tia owns this workbook and uses it regularly.)

Recognize Your Strengths

We tend to get bogged down with the challenges we experience and overemphasize the “deficit” part of ADHD. While we definitely experience challenges with the difficulty regulating our attention that sometimes causes friction and disrupts life a bit, it’s important that we don’t get fooled into thinking that these problems are all there is that matters about us and all there is to the ADHD “curse.”

The truth is that while there are some major challenges to having ADHD, there are also some strengths that we have because we aren’t neurotypical. ADHDers tend to be more creative and innovative, many of us make great entrepreneurs, we’re very empathic, tend to be passionate about justice and other things that really matter, and have the ability to learn to live fully in the moment to an extent that is harder for other people.

If you’ve experienced a lot of pain or shame as a result of having ADHD, it’s easy to look at the good things and thing that they don’t matter in comparison to the bad. Just let both be true for you. The good doesn’t cancel out the bad and the bad doesn’t cancel the good–they are both true and they are both significant to you. That subtle shift can make a huge difference in the way you see yourself and your struggles.

The big lesson here is to not let yourself get stuck in the place of only allowing shame and deficit to be valid–whether related to ADHD or not. That’s giving it a bigger place than it should be allowed to have and keeps it in a place of power that holds you hostage. Let your strengths and your abilities be true, too.

Tips For the Biggest ADHD Challenges

How to Use the Hyperfocus to Your Advantage

Hyperfocus, in my experience anyway, is both the most amazing part of ADHD and the worst part of ADHD. At the same time (letting them both be true 😉). Hyperfocus lets me get awesome things accomplished no matter what barriers stand in my way. I’m determined, slightly obsessive (understated for dramatic effect 😂), and I love the feeling of being so into what I’m doing that nothing else exists. Until is 2 am and I have to be up in 4 hours. Until I’m trying to transition from what I’m doing to anything else (especially if I’m transitioning to something I really don’t want to be doing anyway). Unless I need to shift my focus and concentration to something else. Hyperfocus feels like a train barreling down a track fast and furious and trying to stop it feels like you’re trying to turn left in a car that just lost its power steering.

I’ve learned not to engage hyperfocus within a few hours of bedtime. It’s too hard to calm my thoughts down enough to go to sleep. I’ve learned not to engage hyperfocus just before I have to do something really important or requires a ton of concentration. It’s too hard to shift my thoughts and be fully present. I have learned to engage hyperfocus when I have ample time to indulge it and then it feels like self-care. I engage hyperfocus as a distraction if I’m anxious about something that I can’t control. I engage hyperfocus as a way to accomplish things that need to happen and further myself or my career. Using it to my benefit is what makes hyperfocus more of a blessing than a curse.

When used right, there is a major upside to hyperfocus.

Bounce, Fidget and Move to Manage the Restlessness

I feel too energized a lot. Exercise really helps with that but sometimes the restlessness hits in times that I’m supposed to be productive and exercise isn’t an option. As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting on my exercise ball (Link works), bouncing when I feel like it, taking a break to balance myself for a few seconds here and there because doing so helps me work with the hyperactivity to remain productive without so much discomfort.

When bouncing isn’t an option, I twist my wedding band around my finger or play with my hair or I use squishy toys to work out some energy because doing so helps me stay focused when I’m concentrating deeply. Using a standing desk to work allows me to balance on one foot or do calf raises or take a moment to do a cartwheel to work out excess energy. I’m much more productive and less likely to get distracted by all the other things I’d rather be doing when I give myself the space to do these things.

Use Accountability and Competition to Get Things Done

ADHDers are often competitive. The good news is, this can be used to your advantage to help you get things accomplished that you really don’t want to do. I mentioned that I hate note writing–one helpful strategy has been to have a race with a colleague to see who can get their notes done first. If you aren’t competitive or don’t like the feeling of being in competition, that same colleague can function more like an accountability partner who you know will be checking in with you to make sure you got it done.

This strategy is often used to help people stick with a new exercise regimen or make other difficult changes and it’s effective, which is why we still use it. Adapt it to fit what you need. Maybe have someone check in with you about that project you’ve been meaning to get to or whether you completed your to-do list today. Knowing that someone else will be aware of our progress, tends to make us more efficient and effective.

Use Tiles for things commonly lost

You’ve seen these, right? The little squares you can stick on your phone, keys, wallet, or whatever else you have a tendency of losing regularly and you can use an app to make the tile start beeping and help you find what you lost? These things are awesome.

I don’t really lose my keys that much anymore since I started hanging them on a hook beside the door (which is also a helpful strategy, btw), but I lose my phone generally about once a day. Once, I lost my phone and didn’t find it for 8 months! It was buried in the couch, apparently. What I would have given to have a tile that day instead of having to spend money on a new phone. Ah well, lesson learned. If you have trouble finding important things, invest in your new best friend.

Write it Down Because You WILL Lose it

I keep a notebook just about where ever I go. When I forget my notebook, I have an app on my phone that lets me take notes. I tend to experience a lot of anxiety that I’m going to forget important things because I often forget things. I mean, today at lunch I was searching for a straw and in the middle of looking, I forgot what I was trying to find.

That kind of spacing out creates anxiety that you’ve forgotten something more important than a straw and it’s going to bite you in the butt in the near future. So I write everything down. I KNOW I’ll forget it so writing it down helps me keep track of all the important things that I have forgotten and calms the anxiety. It also helps me keep major things from falling through the cracks…most of the time. If you have trouble remembering to look at your notebook or to do list, create a daily reminder to go off a couple of times a day to look at your to-do list.

Planners and Bullet Journals for Organization

In addition to my to-do list, I keep a planner.  I have appointments scheduled for most days and I definitely don’t want to forget them. Even with the planner, I sometimes still mess up my schedule but 95% of the time, the planner keeps me on track. I’ve begun experimenting with using the planner more strategically to help me be more effective with other tasks and get less distracted. I typically go for a weekly planner with a good amount of space to write for each day. Like this one.

Left to my own devices, I started writing this post and got lost in researching therapy and coach training for ADHD, then got caught up in a brain teaser game and a show on TV. I’ve started using the planner to separate when I focus on research, when I write posts, when I work on bigger projects (like ADHD coaching), etc..so I’m less likely to get distracted doing a little bit on multiple things that are important and that I want to accomplish.

It’s a bit more organized, which helps so that when I’m writing a post and I get caught up thinking I need to do research on this big project I have, I know that I’ve already planned out time to get to that project and can pull myself back to the task at hand. I’m also experimenting with bullet journaling because it combines organization (which I’m trying to get better at) with creative expression (which I love). Seems like a win-win.

Notes on Using Your Phone: Some people like me prefer a physical planner. There’s something about writing it down that helps me remember and it feels more natural to me than using my phone. For other people, using a phone is a better option. If it feels more natural to keep it on your phone or you tend to lose physical planners or need to set reminders for the events on your planner, your phone may be your best option.

Invite people over so it pushes you to clean your house

I’ve been unintentionally doing this for years. I have a hard time keeping my house clean. Partially because I hate cleaning. It’s boring, I’m impatient, and there are literally a million things I’d rather be doing. Also because cleaning involves a lot of things I’m not good at like organization, not getting distracted from one task to another, and I also really hate strong smells or getting damp or wet. Can you tell that I hate cleaning?

The mad dash to get the house presentable is the one thing that focuses me enough to get the job done and ignore all the things I hate about cleaning. The time crunch is a pretty solid motivator for me. If your house is a mess, consider inviting a friend for dinner next weekend. In my experience, before she walks in the door, the house will be in pretty good shape.

And there you have it, the beginners guide to managing your ADHD.

What do YOU do to manage your symptoms?

 

Title photos – both for Facebook and Pinterest – created on Canva.com

 

About the author: Tia found out she had ADHD at the ripe old age of 28 and went on a quest to figure out what that meant for her. What she discovered was life-changing and Little Miss Lionheart was born. Her blog’s goal is to serve as every woman’s guide to ADHD and help you turn the challenges of ADHD into an advantage.

Original Source

Website https://littlemisslionheart.com/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/littlemisslionheart/

 

Self-Regulation: Controlling your emotions with ADHD

 “Emotions motivate action — action to engage or action to avoid.” By Joan Jager

Emotional dysregulation, while often thought as a lack of self-control, is now recognized as a core symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Self-Regulation is a non-shaming way to express the necessary steps to learning to control your emotions with ADHD.  For more than 10 years, the model of Executive Functions, or rather of delayed development of Executive Functions better explains the impact of ADHD than do the symptoms of a variable of attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Executive functions affect the ability to control one’s actions and reactions toward a future goal. They include concentration, memory, staying on task, organization, planning, prioritizing, waiting your turn, restlessness, and others. Research indicates emotional regulation difficulties have the greatest impact on an individual with ADHD’s well-being and self-esteem (far more than the core symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention). For this reason, researchers like Russell Barkley are pushing for emotional regulation to be included in the DSM. Drs. Russell Barkley, Thomas Brown and others now propose that emotional regulation is also one of the basic Executive Functions affected in ADHD. (Source)

 

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., author of  Smart But Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD explains emotional dysregulation as a function of working memory impairments and poor connectivity between areas of the brain that modify emotions.  Unable to recall past experiences, momentary emotions become too strong  and overpowering. (Source)

Dr. Brown notes that an individual with ADHD may:

  • be quick to get frustrated by minor annoyances
  • worry too much or too long about even small things
  • have trouble calming down when annoyed or angry
  • feel wounded or take offense at even gentle criticism
  • feel excessive urgency to get something they want immediately

Unfiltered emotions can have a positive or negative effect.  In How ADHD Triggers Intense Emotions, Dr. Brown continues, “Emotions motivate action — action to engage or action to avoid.”   Dr. William Dodson calls this the “Interest Driven Nervous System” and suggests that the ADHD brain is largely activated by “interest, challenge, novelty, urgency, or passion.” It is these properties rather than the traditional motivators of importance, long-term reward and “shoulds” that propel forward action. Happily, the feeling of being under stress can also be expressed as excitement. This can propel rather than deter action. With self-awareness, and through practicing new coping skills, you change your perception. Fear and shame, looming deadlines, and desperation do NOT have to be the only tools at your disposal. (Sources: One and Two)

 

 Your emotions affect everything you do. Negative emotions can delay necessary action indefinitely. As coach Lou Brown explains, “Individuals rely on emotional self-regulatory skills to enhance or subdue an emotional response and thereby protect goal attainment (as well as social relationships, health, and wellbeing).” (Source)

 

One may also get carried away with positive feelings, develop unwise crushes on people or get fixated on projects that divert them from normal activities. Both positive and negative emotions, when taken to the extreme, can be overwhelming and damaging. Although this article focuses on negative feelings, the excitement that propels an inordinate focus, what some call their “Super Powers,” is also difficult to break away from.  This often causes a life imbalance between work, daily chores, play, and relationships.  If you miss sleep, fail to eat, cannot pay your bills or keep your home life and finances in order, you may be in over your head. You can get help to attend to these boring tasks and regain a healthy balance, but first, you have to overcome self-criticism that says you are a failure if you cannot do it all yourself.

Author of the book Understand Your Brain, Get More Done, Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., MBA, explains some of the consequences of these out of control thoughts and poorly thought out actions.

“Runaway emotions cause more than drama. They undermine relationships, sap motivation, and lead to regretful actions… “What might take an hour for others to calm down from, could take someone with ADHD the whole day.”

Answers to Emotion Commotion

 

I’ve found some favorite articles and provide a synopsis of some great tips for controlling your emotions. I’ve used many of them over the years with some success. .) For greater detail, I recommend that you read the articles in their entirety. (I’m not done working on controlling my emotions as yet. Nor do I ever expect to be. I often have to change approaches when they just plain stop working for me or my circumstances change.)

 

ADHD and 8 Strategies you can use to Control your Emotions by ADHD Coach Marla Cummins focuses on developing an awareness of how ADHD impacts YOUR life and maintaining basic self-care. Answers to ADHD, like your symptoms, are uniquely individual. Take the time and try many approaches to find the right ones for you.

  • Practice good self-care – (lIKE REMEMBERING TO EAT AND SLEEP!) Self-care is a basic tenet for controlling all aspects of ADHD.
  • Be aware of cues that indicate your emotions are ramping up
  • Pause – Give yourself time to think before your emotions build up.
  • Question your thoughts – They may be distorted or automatic negative thoughts.
  • Treat other conditions that also affect (Depression or anxiety for instance)
  • Think ahead – What triggers you or make you feel uncomfortable? What might you do instead?
  • Remember this too shall pass – Give yourself the time you need to allow the feelings to settle down.
  • Own it – You will goof up. Explain. Apologize, Try to make it right. And try to move on…

A different plan of attack is offered by other ADHD experts interviewed by Margarita Tartakovsky in Coping with Heightened Emotions.

  • Avoid criticizing yourself.
  • Know yourself.
  • Be clear about interruptions.
  • Set boundaries
  • Exercise
  • Feel your feelings
  • Practice self-soothing techniques.
  • See your doctor about medication changes. (or explore the possibility of other conditions that may be contributing factors.)

I also like many of the 15 Good Habits Your Brain Craves (But Isn’t Getting) by Ari Tuckman,  Psy.D., MBA. These habits include:

  • Manage your stress.
  • Avoid over-committing yourself.
  • Make time for yourself.
  • Take a break.
  • Train others to talk you down.
  • Don’t take things personally that have little to do with you.
  • Separate feeling from acting.
  • Educate others about your emotional patterns.

 

Just knowing that your emotions are extra sensitive and can cause inordinate problems in someone with ADHD is the first step.  For me, fear, doubt, self-criticism, shame, and sometimes anger at other people or projects that also demand your attention can be paralyzing. Letting go, moving on and even getting anything done seems impossible.  Despite years of practice, my emotions still get in the way sometimes.   I’m tired of being “Smart but Stuck.” Today I am more aware of what’s happening, treat myself with kindness, define the problems and try strategies that bring peace and forward movement. Every day is a chance to move forward.  Hope you find some help here for yourself as well.

 

By Joan Jager: Editor and sometimes author of ADD freeSources.net. Also the Curator for associated Pinterest and Facebook pages.

 

Editor’s note: For a more technical explanation of how emotions relate to ADHD, see Thomas Brown’s  NEW Understandings of ADHD: The role of emotion. These slides from the Burnet Seminar offer some Key Takeaways. These examples give way to more accessible language for most of the presentation. “Chemistry of motivation is modulated by complex processes resulting from amygdalar integration of idiosyncratic emotion-laden memories embedded in perceptions and various cognitive networks. “Also, Working memory & focusing impairments characteristic of ADHD may impair motivation by causing emotional flooding or constricted focus.

Please see Rollercoasters and Eggshells by Lou Brown for a very personal viewpoint on emotional dysregulation and its impact on her life and her relationship with her family.

Photo by Simon Zhu on Unsplash – Person with incense – Modified on Canva.com