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|The disorganized mind. Coaching your ADHD brain to take control over your time, tasks, and talents|
Strategies for Maintaining Spiritual
and Mental Wellness
Maintaining a healthy mental or spiritual life is contingent upon
balancing work with play, taking time for yourself, and giving
back to the community. Failure to adhere to personal boundaries,
to keep emotions and negative tapes in check, and to curb impulsivity
can contribute to diminished spiritual and mental wellness.
When you give support to your internal life, your external life will
also be better.
End the Shame and Blame!
The only way to stop blaming yourself for your ADHD is to learn
as much as you can about it . If you can understand the neurobiological
roots of ADHD, you will be better able to separate yourself
from the disability and do something about it. The way to
end the shame and start to build self-esteem and move forward is
to make friends with your brain and develop strategies to bridge
gaps in performance.
Make a Date with Yourself
Block out "sacred time" weekly to rejuvenate. Don't allow anything
to creep into this space. For example, if you've decided to
use this time to read and relax, don't allow yourself to clean your
house instead because you have a day off. To help put boundaries
around this sacred space, make a list of what is permitted in that
space and time and what is not. Post it l Review it, and practice
sticking to it!
Hold Yourself Back! Learn to Say "No"!
Learn to say "no." The word yes flies out of our mouths way too
often, and we end up overcommitting and stretching ourselves
way too thin. Each day, say "no" to something, no matter how big
or small, so you get comfortable saying it. Create a variety of dialogues
that will help you hold yourself back from various situations.
For instance, if your friend or colleague asks you to make
plans for the upcoming weekend, say, "I'd like to give this some
more thought before I commit. Can you check back with me
When You Say “Yes," You Also Mean "No"
Often, we don't think of the consequences of saying "yes." Stop
and think before committing. When you say "yes" to something,
what are you saying "no" to) For example, if you say "yes" to doing
an extra project at work or helping a friend move on a Saturday.
are you saying "no" to spending more time with your family or to
taking time to exercise? What are you saying "yes" to in your life?
What are you saying "no" to? What is it costing you? Try to ensure
that "yes" adds something to your life.
Keep Perspective-Be Comfortable in the Gray Zone
In times of crisis or stress, your sense of clarity can be skewed
and the desire to make things "black or white" can be very compelling.
Be sure to be flexible with yourself and others. Allow
yourself time to be in the "gray zone," especially if there is a crisis
that is out of your control, like a death or divorce. Recovery can't
be forced, so let your emotion run its course. In time, the fog will
lift, and your energy and clarity will return.
Journal Your Emotions
If you frequently deal with "runaway emotions" or "negative
tapes ," you probably get locked onto thoughts or issues, unable to
let go. By keeping a problem-solving log, you can defuse emotions
by distinguishing what they are and what they are associated with.
Write in the log whenever your emotions are preventing you from
moving forward. The log can lead you through a series of questions
that you ask yourself, such as, "What specific situation triggered
my sadness?" "What specific action did I take in the
situation?" "What could I have done differently?" "What specific
action can I take now?" Answering questions like these can help
you step back, see the issue in perspective, and recognize that
you have the power to deal with it. This helps you let go of the
feelings you are overwhelmed by, gain a new perspective, and
Plan in Advance for Potential Emotional Upheavals
To help prevent or minimize emotional upheavals , make detailed
plans for any times you find potentially volatile, such as holidays
Or unstructured time. Write out or go over dialogues in your head
of what you w ill say in particular situations and how you will say
it. Have an "escape" plan . For example , I have a client who gets in
her car and goes to sit in a parking lot for a little while to take a
break from the traditional Christmas Day celebration with her
extended family each year. She returns renewed and more able to
participate in the holiday festivities .
Create a History and Future for Yourself
Keep a journal of past accomplishments, future goals, and plans.
Review it regularly. Typically, individuals with ADHD live in the
moment, which lends itself to a host of problems: not thinking of
consequences before acting on thoughts ; forgetting past accomplishments
as well as past failures; not thinking of the impact of
current choices on a future goal, even a short-term one. The feeling
of being perpetually trapped in the present can often lead to
feelings of emptiness and lack of direction. Having a list of past
accomplishments can help to shift your focus to the success
you've already achieved. It can also encourage you to believe that
you can succeed again and achieve what you set out to do .
Beware Letdowns After Completing Big Projects
Many of my clients immediately go into a depression after they
complete a large project. All of a sudden the pressure is off, and
nothing seems "exciting" or relevant. Know this can happen, and
put a plan in place to compensate for the downtime. For example,
immediately after I completed the Boston Marathon, I couldn't
escape the sense of "I haven't done anything with my life; I'm a
total loser." To counter this, I put together a photo album of the
marathon and started sharing my recent "win" with everyone so it
would stay alive in my mind and help me remember that I wasn't
Identifying Your Energy Rhythms
People with ADHD are often unaware of when their bodies are
worn down. It's important to learn not only what types of projects
create energy for you , but also which ones drain energy. That
way, you can plan the most demanding activities during your
peak energy times , as well as gauge when to stop working on a
project and rest.
Keep a calendar or a log of your energy rhythms for a period of
several weeks. This works best if the system is simple. For example,
use a scale of plus or minus signs to depict high or low energy
times , and write them beside different activities logged in a
Preplan for Bad Brain Days
Can't concentrate? Distracted? My clients call this a "bad brain
day." For these days , it's important not to push yourself too hard
and to have a failsafe plan in mind by knowing what works for
you, Take a break and walk around the block, have a cup of tea,
or call a friend, Then get back to work. One of my clients says he
gives himself a "time-out" by going to a cafe near work to just "sit
and chill" for an hour. The key is to know when these days hit
and take action by doing what works for you ,
Practice Relaxation Exercises
ADHD people often live in a state of constant stress. It's important
to learn how to slow down and destress , both mentally and
physically, at any given moment. Learn relaxation techniques and
methods to center yourself at any given moment. Practice slow breathing
techniques or join a yoga or meditation class. If you are
spiritual, make daily prayers a priority,
Take a Daily Inventory
Take time each day to reflect on your life and how you are living
it. What do you want to change': What will it take? What are you
willing to give up to get there? How were you of service today?
How can you live a more purposeful life? Asking yourself these
questions at the end of each day will help you focus on the things
you can and cannot change in your life. That way, you can begin
to focus more on the positive instead of the negative.
One of my clients has made a habit of ending each day by writing
down one thing for which she's grateful. She does this right before
bed each night as a way of reflecting on the day she's just
lived through and destressing before sleep. I've tried it, and I
agree with her. It's amazing how you can learn to accentuate the
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