Archives for March 2009

How to Make Your Home a Safe Haven

Our home is our safe haven from the rest of the world. This is more important than ever if you are an adult with ADHD. Home isn’t just a place to store belongings and carry out functional activities such as sleeping, eating and bathing. It is where we are soothed and calmed when we are stressed or upset. It is where we regroup and get centered for the next day.

There is something about being among your own belongings that makes you feel happy, safe and secure. This doesn’t mean you are materialistic, but being surrounded by your own creature comforts has an emotional component that goes much deeper than purely the functionality or looks of an environment.

Your home represents your personality, your hobbies and your likes and preferences. Even if you don’t consider yourself a designer, put a lot of thought into each item in your home, from the type of mattress to the color on the walls.

We know that our physical environment affects us a great deal. For example, clutter distracts us, depresses us and makes us sleepy. Different colors affect our mood as well. For example, a room painted yellow enhances concentration and a room painted green is relaxing and calming.

Nate Berkus, who you may have seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show, has a great approach to creating a welcoming home. He believes homes should be filled with meaning and memories of the person or people who live there. With this in mind, don’t keep your collection of… (fill in the blank) hidden away, put them out on display. There will be a way to do it in a tasteful and non-cluttered way.

Rather than going to Ikea and buying generic artwork, why not frame something that is personal to you such as your children’s artwork, a favorite birthday card, a photo you took (don’t be bashful) or something you painted. When you go on holiday, bring something back from your trip, not just a postcard or tacky souvenir, but something that will bring back happy memories from your trip: a plate, vase, picture, etc.

Knowing how important our physical environment is, why not make yours super special?

  1. The biggest thing to give your home a lift is to declutter. This is one of the biggest challenges among my clients with ADHD. Start small and do a little every day.
  2. Ensure your home is clean. Not only is a clean home hygienic, it is also uplifting to your spirits and your nose!
  3. Go from room to room with fresh eyes and a notebook and decide what you would like to update or refresh. It could be a new coat of paint, new window dressing or a new rug.
  4. Also write in the notebook anything that needs mending, perhaps a crack in the paint, a broken handle, etc.
  5. If you have your interests reflected in your decoration, think about how you could incorporate the two. This is the fun part!

Soon your home will be an even greater place to welcome you after your busy day.

ADHD and Addiction

People with Adult ADHD have almost triple the rate of addiction than that of adults without ADHD. Alcohol and marijuana are the most common substances used. Other types of addictions include nicotine, caffeine, sugar and street drugs.

For some adults with ADHD, addiction comes in the form of stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine “pick me ups” to help them concentrate and give them mental energy for their daily actions. Others use marijuana or alcohol to calm themselves and relax their busy mind. One of my clients said she smoked marijuana to feel and behave like a “normal” person.

This type of substance use is “self medicating.” A Harvard study found of the young adult participants, 70% did not use substances to get high, rather as a sleep aid, a mood enhancer, or another comparable reason. This type of “self medication” is particularly prevalent in people who do not know they have ADHD or have the diagnosis but aren’t treating ADHD. This is backed up by another study that found people with ADHD who were taking prescribed ADHD medication were far less likely to drink or abuse drugs.

Stopping addictions is never easy… BUT it is possible. If you feel that you are addicted to a substance, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Those feelings will stop you from getting the help you need. There is nothing to be ashamed about. All you need to do now is treat the problem in a different and healthy way.

  1. First acknowledge that you might have a problem. Tell a very supportive friend, your doctor or visit your local AA meeting. By telling someone, it brings your “secret” to the surface and helps you to know that people will still love you… regardless.
  2. Get help for your ADHD. If you haven’t already gotten an official diagnosis, its important that you find a professional in your area who is experienced in diagnosing ADD. Talk to your doctor about ADHD medication. Join an ADHD support group in your area, work with an ADHD Coach and start to implement the non-pharmaceutical ways to reduce the negative effects of ADHD on your life.
  3. Get to the root of the problem. The type of substance will help guide you on what you need in your life. For example, were you taking a stimulant or something the help you relax? If it was the latter, think of other ways you could relax, such as your favourite exercise, meditation, time with your pet, etc.
  4. Look at your life. In a fascinating study on rats, Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander found the environment influenced whether lab rats would choose to consume morphine. When they were in a cramped cage (rat hell), they wanted the morphine. However, even rats who had been given morphine for nearly 60 consecutive days and were then placed in a rat park (rat paradise), they chose plain water, NOT water laced with morphine.

If we transfer the findings to your life, we can see that if you set your life up to be fun and enjoyable for you, you will have less need to use your substance of choice. You may need to do some soul searching to discover what changes you need to make, or you might know the second you read this what you need to do.

Remember, don’t be judgemental with yourself and take action.

How to Turn a Ho Hum Day into a Great Day

A client was sitting on the sofa in my office the other day and used a great expression to describe days that are rather blah. She called them “Ho Hum” days. A Ho Hum Day is when you have done everything that is expected of you, but nothing that really makes you feel, “Wow, that was a GREAT day,” and feel good about yourself.

The interesting thing about GREAT days is you don’t need to have gone sky diving or found the cure for cancer. It only needs a small amount of time and a small amount of activity and your day can be transformed. Life is too short to have “Ho Hum” days, so here are the three elements to transforming a Ho Hum day into a GREAT day.

  1. Take action.
  2. Do something that will make you feel good.
  3. Experience something different. For example, if you usually watch lots of TV, get moving! But if you are usually doing a million different things, curling up on the sofa with a movie would be the perfect thing for you.


Transforming Your Day on Short Notice

If it’s the end of the day and you have that “Ho Hum” feeling, here are a few things to try:

Blitz Procrastination
As achievements give you a sense of pride and raise your spirits, why not tackle something you have been procrastinating on? It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call or a small project around the house. Get it done and your mood will lift.

Organize an Area in Your Home
Something magical happens when you move physical items around. There is a shift in energy that will make you feel more energetic. You could organize your desk, a kitchen counter or a shelf in your fridge.

Grab a plastic bag and throw away 21 things. Decluttering, even for a few minutes, raises your energy because a cluttered environment sucks away your energy, leaving you tired and even depressed.

Pick Up the Phone
If you haven’t had close connection with friends recently, pick up the phone. A conversation with someone who cares about you will inspire, motivate and distress you.

Do some exercise. This is always a winner to shift your mood and make you feel great. if there is not time for the gym, put on your favourite tunes and dance away.


Transforming Your Day with Advanced Notice

When you have time in advance to plan a GREAT day, stick with the same principles. Do something that you know you REALLY enjoy or that you haven’t experienced before.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Visit an art gallery.
  2. Cook a great meal and invite friends over.
  3. Take a class.
  4. Run a race.
  5. Spend time with someone who is dear to you.
  6. Paint a room.
  7. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  8. See a live band.
  9. Plant a garden.
  10. Spend time in nature.

When you get into the habit of having GREAT days, you will start to notice changes. You will be more energized and find that your self-esteem increases. You’ll start moving towards your goals faster and you’ll be more fun to be around!