Archives for 2009

Getting Sick Can Be Frustrating

It’s flu session. Getting sick is never any fun, and as an adult with ADHD getting sick can be frustrating as your mind continues to work as fast as ever, yet your body isn’t as physically strong as usual and you don’t have your usual energy to keep up.

If you are really sick, then you have no choice but to lie in bed and sleep and watch movies. However for the days when you are ‘sort of sick’ but by no means yourself here are some tips.

1)    Clear your schedule. Don’t feel you are letting people down. No one minds when you have to cancel a plan because you are not feeling well. Plus the people in your life don’t want to catch your germs and possibly get sick themselves.

2)    Sleep. Its not an old wives tale, you really do heal when you sleep. Get as much sleep as your body needs. Don’t feel guilty or lazy… just sleep. You will recover much faster if you do.

3)    Hydrate. Increase the amount of fluid you drink when you are sick. Drink water, hot or cold, herbal tea (Echinacea is great), juice, anything that will hydrate you will help. Avoid caffeine and alcohol because among other things it dehydrates you.

4)    Food. Listen to your body regarding both the timing of your meals and what the meal consists of. Don’t eat just because its lunchtime. Eat when you are hungry and something that appeals to you. Be sure to eat non processed food, so that you get the maximum about of  vitamins possible.

5 a)  To do’s. When your body is not as strong as usual, you can’t get as much done as you would usually and that can be stressful. Write a list of everything that needs to be done. Just the act of downloading it onto paper is very helpful.

b) Then when you have energy look at the list and pick something from it. Once you have completed the task and you find you have more energy select something else from the list. If not simply relax till you do.

6)    Avoid overwhelm. By staying focused on what you are doing at any given moment. If you are walking to the health food store to buy a few things to make you feel better, don’t start thinking about what needs to be done next. The next task might seem very daunting in your mind however when you are actually doing it will be fine. Simply focus on the task in hand.

7)    Don’t worry. When you are physically ill, it effects how you think and feel on an emotional level too.  Rather like problems seeming much worse in the middle of the night. If you find yourself worrying, remind yourself that you aren’t well and you will pay the problem some mental attention when you are feeling better.

Herbal ADHD Treatment

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“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.” – Mourning Dove

The term “herb” simply means a plant that is used medicinally. For centuries, herbs were used for their medicinal properties to soothe and heal illness and disease. Their use in the western world diminished towards the end of the 17th century when pharmacology and chemistry knowledge developed. However, in the last few decades there has been a resurgence of interest in herbs and their healing properties again.

Some people are very skeptical of using herbs and other methods of complementary therapy. If this is you, that’s ok! There are lots of excellent ways besides herbs to help you and your ADHD. However, if you are interested in herbs then this is a good starting place.

Herbs can be taken in the form of a tincture, in capsules and essential oils or drunk as a tea (my personal favourite.) Below is a selection of herbs that can help your ADHD.

Herbs that stimulate and aid cognitive functioning:

Ginkgo

Stimulates blood circulation, particularly cerebral circulation, and increases concentration, focus and aids memory. Note: It can take up to three months before seeing effects, and shouldn’t be taken with Ritalin or other ADHD medication.

Rosemary

Improves and stimulates memory. In Greece, students burn this herb in their rooms during exam time. Note: Not recommended for people who have hypertension. Ask a naturopath or an aroma therapist before using rosemary essential oils.

Bacopa

Stimulates intellectual activity such as focus, concentration, memory and mental endurance.

Syberian ginseng

Stimulates the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for functions such as memory, attention, perceptual awareness, etc. As a bonus, it protects your immune system.

American ginseng

Often used in combination with gingko to improve the symptoms of ADHD. American ginseng is found in the form of capsules or in soups and teas. Like other ginsengs, it protects your immune system. Note: Not to be taken for more than six weeks straight.

Herbs that help you to relax and reduce anxiety and stress:

Chamomile

Soothes the central nervous system and can reduce nervous tension, irritability and emotional stress responses. Note: this plant stimulates perspiration.

Passionflower

Helps with insomnia (take two cups maximum before bedtime), acts as sedative for anxiety, aids stress and nervousness.

Herbs that do both!

Gotu Cola or Gotu Kola

Improves concentration, revitalizes and strengthens the memory and nervous functions and is an anti-anxiety and anti stress agent.

Lemon Balm

Supports mental performance, attention span, accuracy and memory. Relieves restlessness, nervousness, anxiety and mild mood changes. For anxiety it’s best to take it in form of tincture.

A word of warning:

Before you dash to your nearest health food store, a word of warning: Because herbs are “natural,” our brains equate that with “safe.” However, herbs need to be used with the care and respect we give pharmaceutical drugs. Remember, Morphine is “natural.” It comes from poppy seeds, yet it’s a highly addictive controlled drug. Like pharmaceutical drugs, herbs can have undesirable side-effects. However, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, herbal ADHD treatments are not standardized in terms of purity and dosage.

Herbal medication can interact with prescribed medication. Medical doctors may not be knowledgeable on the use of herbs, but your pharmacist is great resource to find out about any potentially dangerous interactions.

However, the most effective and safest way to use herbal ADHD treatments is to work with a good naturopath or herbalist in your area.

Bottom line, if herbal ADHD treatments interest you, they can be very effective. But you do need to practice caution as you would with any drug.

ADHD and Sleep Problems: Solved!

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ADHD and sleep problems often go hand in had when you have Adult ADHD. The reasons vary from not being able to switch your mind off to the medication you are taking. If you have ADHD and sleep problems, then no caffeine near bedtime and no stimulating brain activities two hours before bed are all tips you are familiar with. This article addresses other strategies for a good night’s sleep.

Fresh Air

Fresh air is a great way to experience deep, satisfying sleep. It is easy to spend the day going from one man-made environment to the next. We make these environments pleasant with heating or air conditioning, and can go from home, to the car, to work, to the gym and back home without ever spending much time breathing in fresh air. It’s important to ensure you get fresh air into your lungs during the day. Also, leave your bedroom window open a little at night to keep the fresh air entering your body even while you sleep.
Essential Oils

Essential oils can have a powerful effect on the body and lavender oil has been found to be helpful when it comes to sleep. Scientific evidence has shown that lavender oil encourages relaxation, reduction of anxiety and improvement of the quality of sleep. Plus it’s very easy to use. You can pop a couple of drops of the oil into your bath before bed or pour a few drops on a handkerchief and tuck it inside your pillow case.
Get a Great Mattress

Mattresses are the most important item of furniture in your home. Not only is it the item you use the most, if you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep then the quality of your whole life is affected. Everyone has their own preference of what a comfortable mattress is – hard, soft, medium, etc. When you are choosing a mattress, take into account your preferences and also remember it’s hard to sleep when your mattress is too small for your body size.
BeddingMake sure your bedding is made of natural fibres rather than synthetic choices. This is because it’s important that your body can breathe at night, and that it can regulate your temperature. If you become too hot you will sweat and if you become too cool you will shiver, both of which disturb your sleep. Cotton, wool and even silk are great choices.
Body and Mind

If your day didn’t stretch and stimulate you mentally and physically, your ability to both fall and stay asleep will be affected. So make sure you tax your brain and your body every day. That could be taking up a new physical activity or joining a club or doing the New York Times crossword.

The ADHD Coach action steps for getting a good night’s sleep are

  1. Spend time each day breathing in fresh air.
  2. Open your bedroom window a little.
  3. Buy some lavender oil.
  4. Assess your mattress… is it time for a new one?
  5. Check your bedding. If it’s man-made, invest in some new linen.
  6. Set yourself a mental and physical challenge every day.

Sweet dreams.

 

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Beating ADHD Procrastination.

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Beating ADHD Procrastination

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ADHD procrastination is one of the biggest complaints I hear as an ADHD Coach. There are many reasons why people with ADHD procrastination and sometimes procrastination can even be useful. However, usually procrastination doesn’t make you feel good. You feel lazy, unproductive and the thought of the unfinished task looms heavily on your mind, spoiling any enjoyment doing other activities.

While it is not a new idea, breaking big projects or tasks into small, manageable chunks is a great way to beat procrastination and get things done. Evidence that this idea has been around for hundreds of years I the Chinese proverb that states “A journey of 1,000 miles starts with just one step.” A seemingly impossible journey that appears overwhelming at first can be broken down into simple stages and completed. After all, you know how to take a single step, then after that you take another. Take enough single steps and you are there! Mission accomplished. When you think of a task like this, then you can do ANYTHING. It’s a very empowering thought. A modern saying in the same vein is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

When I was little I wasn’t a good eater. I would look at a plate of food and not know where to start, so I would barely touch any of the food on my plate. My mum realized this and would put a small portion on a side plate, which I would be able to eat and then she would put another small portion on the side plate and I would eat that too.

When something seems so big it seems impossible, just focus on a small part you are working on. Don’t start thinking about everything you still have to do because that will make you feel overwhelmed and  you will freeze (which has the same outcome as procrastination).

So the next time  you are faced with procrastination and resistance to starting a project, follow these steps:

  1. On a piece of paper or on your computer, break the project down into steps.
  2. If one of the parts still feels overwhelming, it’s because it needs to be broken down further. The idea is to make each item so small that it’s no longer painful. For example, if your project is to send your CV to Mr. X, here is what your action list would look like:
    1. Find CV on my computer
    2. Print CV out
    3. Address envelope to Mr. X
    4. Put CV into envelope
    5. Go to the post office to buy stamps
    6. Stick stamps onto envelope
    7. Post off the CV

    While you might feel a bit stupid for breaking the project down into such tiny steps, e.g. stick stamps on to envelope, please don’t. It doesn’t matter how basic each step is. What matters is that you are moving forward on a project that is important to you.

  3. As you are working through each step, don’t worry about the next step. Or step number ten. When you get to that step, you will be able to do it.
  4. Tick each step off when you have completed it. The sense of accomplishment keeps you moving forward.

As always, celebrate your success of a job well done!

Symptoms of ADHD

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Did you know that one out of four adults with ADHD suffer with depression? This is a higher rate than for the rest of the population. While depression it isn’t one of the primary symptoms of ADHD like hyperactivity is or inattention, it is often present in an adult with ADHD life. Depression can have a mysterious cloak around it, however, it helps to know that there are two types. “Primary Depression” is hereditary and you can feel depressed without there being a trigger or reason why you are depressed. “Secondary Depression” is the result of a trigger, perhaps because you are struggling with ADHD, repeatedly feeling like a failure despite great efforts to live up to society’s standards of what is “normal.”

When you are feeling low and depressed, your normal habits are affected. You lose interest in things that were previously appealing to you. Sleeping seems like the most enticing activity in the world, or becomes a battlefield as you endure insomnia. Exercise gets pushed aside (it seems to take too much energy), and healthy meals are replaced with comfort food. You no longer pick up the phone to chat with friends because that too is not longer appealing, and you feel as if you have nothing interesting to say. Your home becomes cluttered and messy because even taking the garbage out becomes a huge task. Before you know it, you life has become work, TV and sleep.

If this describes you and it’s been over two weeks, you need to make an appointment with your doctor and explain how you are feeling. If you are on anti-depressants and you have taken a bit of a downward turn, visit your doctor again. It’s important they know how you are doing. As well as seeing a medical doctor, you might want to consider visiting a psychologist too. Talk therapy is a very powerful tool.

In addition to visiting medical staff, there are things you can do to make yourself feel more like your old self.

Nutrition has a powerful effect on your mood. While pizza will make you feel good for a night or two, its feel-good factor is short term. It is time to start replacing comfort food with some REAL feel-good food. If the thought of cooking yourself a healthy meal seems too complex, start small. Have a goal of eating one piece of fruit a day, then increase that to two.

Exercise is incredibly good for us, both mentally and physically. However, even if you were a gym bunny before, don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting to be able to jump in where you were before. Start with a 30 minute walk a day. Walking is not only relatively painless, it helps you crave healthy food AND makes you feel good.

Next, get back to taking your supplements. If you only take one, choose Omega 3. It’s fabulous for your ADHD and it does wonders for your mood too.

Now take a peak in the mirror. Is there anything that will make you feel better? I know one man who had let his hair and beard grow really long and only washed them occasionally. When he shaved and had a haircut it affected his mood in a very positive way. What would your version of this be?

Have you let simple pleasures go? Like listening to music, doing a Sudoku puzzle, playing with your pet, etc. Create a list of all those things that you loved to do and then start to do one thing every day.

In terms of your environment, phase one, at the very least, take out the garbage. You deserve to live in a smell-free, hygienic place.

Phase two, move every piece of clutter on the floor UP. People who are depressed put things on the floor and this adds to depression. You don’t need to do anything with those belongings for now as long as they are on counter space, tables, etc. and not on the floor.

Phase three is to do 15 minutes of either housework or organizing every day. You will be amazed at how good you feel about yourself after you have done this, no matter how hard it was to start.

Once you have been doing these things, you will be ready to start socializing again. Being with people is key because we are social beings who thrive on human interactions. So reach out again to your friends. Chatting to people online might be fun, but you need to get out there and meet people in real life. Start slowly – a short visit is fine. Spending time with people who are fun for you is key. Don’t meet with people who drain your energy or make you feel guilty.

Don’t feel bad for “wasting” X number of days/weeks/months feeling depressed and not “doing” anything. That is not helpful and makes you feel worse. The main thing is that you are shifting things now.

When you have begun to implement these steps, even if you didn’t feel like it at the time, you will start to feel better, either directly afterwards or over time.

Try not to let symptoms of ADHD get to you. Remember, you are incredibly awesome, even on the days you don’t feel like you are and

The information in this article does not replace a medical intervention in anyway. When you are feeling depressed it’s imperative that you visit your doctor.

The information in this article does not replace a medical intervention in anyway. When you are feeling depressed it’s imperative that you visit your doctor.

Four Coaching Spots Available

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I am writing to you because I wanted to let you know that four coaching spots (there were five but one literally just got filled) are currently available to work one-on-one with me.

As you know, I work with adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. What you might NOT know is all the wonderful benefits people have reported experiencing during our one-on-one coaching sessions. Below are the 35 most common things I hear clients report… in no particular order 🙂

  1. Hope that things can and will get better
  2. Find their natural gifts and talents
  3. Appreciate their talents (when something is easy, it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and that everyone can do it)
  4. Increase self-esteem… feeling better about who they are
  5. Feel happier
  6. Get a better understanding of what ADHD is
  7. Feel a huge sense of relief when they realize a challenge they are experiencing is very common with people with ADHD
  8. Become more efficient and effective at work and at home
  9. Feel less stressed
  10. Keep on top of their to-do list
  11. Take care of themselves physically
  12. Take care of themselves emotionally
  13. Feel less angry
  14. Gain control of life
  15. Feel calmer
  16. Organize their living space
  17. Create new habits to replace old ones that weren’t working
  18. Reduce procrastination
  19. Reduce feeling overwhelmed
  20. Reduce feelings of frustration
  21. Achieve goals, personally and professionally
  22. Increase productivity
  23. Improve relationships with friends, family, spouse
  24. Feel on top of school work
  25. Get a handle of finances
  26. Increase enjoyment in life
  27. Help life to slow down
  28. Feel less anxiety
  29. Feel less sadness, less feeling blue
  30. Lose weight
  31. Have more energy
  32. Develop better sleep habits
  33. Develop better communication skills
  34. Become better at managing their time
  35. Feel like a proactive player in their life

One client reported:

“When I left your office, I felt I had wings, I felt happy and light and… looking towards a better tomorrow. I feel more alive than I have felt in years, like an overcast sky opening up to the sunshine.”

So if this appeals to you and you would like to be one of the four new clients in my coaching program, send me an email at Jacqueline@untappedbrilliance.com with the word “coaching spots” in the title and I will make sure you get a coaching application form as soon as possible.

Looking forward to connecting with you really soon!

Warmly,
Jacqueline

ADHD Students

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ADHD students face many challenges. You try really hard, but you don’t seem to get the results that reflect the amount of effort you put in. Even if you write a great paper, you might forget the deadline and lose marks because of that rather than the content of your work. You might find it difficult to pay attention during a lecture, or procrastinate over preparing for your exam and then study all night in order to know the information you need.

Even if your university days are over long ago, these tips will still be useful for you in your workplace and can be applied to preparing for a presentation or staying alert in meetings.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to anyone! We all have our strengths, the brain box in the corner, might know the answer to everything, get As and have her homework in on time, but she probably doesn’t have as much creativity and imagination as you. Comparing yourself to others only results in you feeling bad about yourself because you see your weaknesses and not your great strengths.
  2. Lectures aren’t usually the best way for ADHDers to learn. You are far better in an active learning situation. However, when there is no other way, try these five tips:
    • Take notes. They keep you alert and will help jog your memory later.
    • Take a stress ball to class and squeeze it. Having something to do with your hands helps your brain focus on what is being said.
    • Accept that your brain is going to drift off. When it does, simply bring your concentration back to the speaker. Don’t be down on yourself. The more you beat yourself up for not paying attention, the worse you will feel and the less you will concentrate. Give yourself a pat on the back for the 50% you did listen to rather than the 50% you didn’t.
    • Ask a friend to borrow their notes and photocopy them. Two heads are better than one.
    • Ask the lecturer if you can record the lecture. Most will say yes. Then you can listen to the lecture again.
  3. Get into a routine with your studying. I know you might shy away from routine, but it’s a great way to keep on top of your studies and not get overwhelmed. It also helps that constant chatter in your brain about when to study, and stops procrastination. You might decide from 6-9pm every weekday evening you will study. In a very short time you will find that if you are doing everything else besides studying during this time it just wouldn’t feel right.
  4. Develop a “getting into “gear” or transitional period that signals to your brain that you are about to start studying. Just like when you are going to the gym you prepare yourself by driving to the gym, changing, stretching before beginning to exercise, the same is true for studying. For example:
    • Make a cup of tea; take it to your study area (bedroom, office, etc.)
    • Write down your study objectives
    • Plan how you will reward yourself after you have finished (call a friend; watch a TV show, etc.)
    • Begin!
  5. Break big tasks into smaller ones. If you have a big assignment and find it overwhelming, simply break it down into smaller pieces. For example:
    • Write assignment plan
      • Introduction
      • Point 1
      • Point 2
      • Point 3
      • Conclusion
    • Flesh out the plan
    • Complete rough draft
    • Complete final draft
    • Hand in to teacher
    • Celebrate

    Suddenly this overwhelming assignment seems much more achievable.

  6. Noise or no noise?  Some ADHD adults have to have some background noise (usually music) while they are studying. Others like complete silence. Which one are you? If you enjoy music, that is easy to accommodate. Complete silence is a little trickier, but libraries are quiet places. Possibly your home, depending on your living situation. You could also investigate headphones or even a white noise machine that will block out sound.
  7. Active learning not only makes studying a lot more interesting, it also helps you remember the information. Here are a few ways to experiment with active learning:
    • When you are reading, ask yourself questions and try to find the answer in the text.
    • Link it to information you already know.
    • Summarize what you just learned to a friend, or even your dog. Just by trying to articulate what you learned will help you to realize if you know what you just read about, or if you need to go over it again.
    • Draw a mind map. Mind maps can be a great tool to organize your information. Tony Buzzard has many great tips on how to create and use mind maps at http://www.buzanworld.com/Mind_Maps.htm.
  8. Break your study time down into small chunks. 30 minutes works well for me. Some people find that too long and prefer chunks of 20 minutes. Others can concentrate for 40 minutes. Knowing that the timer is ticking away helps you to concentrate on the task at hand. When the timer rings, stretch, take a bathroom break and go back for your next timed study period.
  9. The first 10 to 15 minutes of private study are always the hardest. Break through that and you will find that you are in the study groove.
  10. Reward yourself! A lot. You get rewards for studying for the time you set yourself, or handing a paper in on time, for sitting a test. Rewards will vary depending on the task and what you consider a reward, but your brain really loves to know that at the end of all the hard work there is a reward waiting!

ADHD Nutrition

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If you have ADHD, nutrition plays a key part in functioning at your best.There is a direct link between the food we consume and the effectiveness of how the brain operates. A healthy diet with the right sort of nutritious food can help to minimize the negative effects of ADHD. In contrast, an unhealthy diet including fast food and food packed with sugars and additives can exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

There is a lot of information about what foods you should and shouldn’t eat if you have ADHD and it can get overwhelming. I like to keep ADHD nutrition as simple as possible because then change becomes easy and effortless. This week a client asked me if he were to change one thing in his diet, what would give him the biggest reward in terms of a noticed difference in his ADHD. Without a doubt I was able to answer: protein.

Eating protein from a variety of food sources each day helps ensure that your body gets all the essential amino acids it needs. Amino acids are the building blocks for neurotransmitters, which are crucial for optimal brain functioning.
When you provide your brain with the nutrition it needs, it is able to maintain the correct chemical balance and carry out the functions you rely on it for.

Good quality protein isn’t as readily available “to go” like carbohydrates are. For example, it is much easier to grab a donut or muffin as you are dashing out the door than to scramble yourself some eggs. This is why adults with ADHD usually eat less than the recommended amount of protein each day. However, when you start to include it, particularly at breakfast, you will notice that your whole day is transformed.

Examples of good quality protein are

  • Chicken and Turkey (white meat)
  • Lean red meat
  • Fish
  • Protein powder
  • Dairy products

This week, experiment with including more protein in the diet and notice the benefits. You will be able to pay attention better, problem solve, concentrate more, improve your memory and maintain stable moods.

ADHD and Human Connections

 

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In order to lead a healthy, well balanced life, it is important to have some special people in your life. This makes you feel connected, loved, cared for and valued. We all need human connections to thrive and also to be the best we can be in this world. There are many qualities that make up a good friend. Here are three important ones:

ADHD and human connections1. People who think you are amazing just as you are.One of my clients is very energetic and has a hard time sitting still. She tells stories with her arms as well as her voice and her friends love her extravagant gestures because it makes her who she is.When she started dating a man who was very conservative, he was embarrassed by her gestures and wanted her to change. This took a real toll on her confidence and self-esteem as she tried to conform to someone else’s ideals.The moral of this story is to surround yourself with people who love you just the way you are. Who don’t judge or try to change you.

2. People who lift you up when you are down.People with ADHD can receive lots of negative feedback from people, so it’s important to counteract that with lots of positive comments from those nearest and dearest to you. People who are in your corner 100%, who say just the right thing to put things into perspective, make you laugh and generally lift you up when you are down.

3. People who are there to share the good times.Some people love a good sob story. They love it when you are down on your luck. They can commiserate with you and tell you their woes, too. However, not everyone is able to share the good times with you, too. The people who can are worth keeping close. They don’t feel threatened by your achievements and accomplishments, and are genuinely delighted for you.Life does have its ups and downs and you want the people you’re with to be able to share both with you.

The following five steps will help you to make these important human connections:

  1. Think of who in your life is a “good person.” Having wonderful people in your life does not happen by accident. It takes a little time and awareness on your part. So think about who is in your life at the moment. Feel grateful for the wonderful people who are already in it. Also be aware of those who no longer support you, so you can spend less time with them.
  2. Remember that you deserve good people in your life. If you haven’t been used to having them, it may seem a bit strange at first. However, you are not asking them to do or be anything you aren’t to them.
  3. If you already have people in your life who are amazing, then spend a few minutes thinking about how you could spend more time with them.
  4. If there is room in your life for new people, spend a few minutes and think about how you could meet them. Joining groups where people share a common interest, such as a book group, is a great way, as is volunteering for a charity that captures your interest.
  5. If you have had great friends in the past that you have lost touch with, try to reconnect with them. Facebook is a great tool to help you with this.