Archives for 2010

Why ADHD is on the Rise

The people over at www.everydayhealth.com asked a panel of experts to answer questions about ADHD in children. They then invited me to answer those questions in relation to Adult ADHD.  Here are the questions and my answers.

Don’t forget to leave comments or feedback below!

1. Why is ADHD on the rise?

ADHD isn’t really on the rise, although it might seem that way because more people than ever before are being diagnosed. This is due to an increased knowledge and awareness about ADHD both in the medical profession and the general public. Also, because our lifestyle has changed dramatically in the last 100 years and jobs require people to sit still for longer periods of time. This is a challenge that forces a person to seek help, when in another job environment it wouldn’t have been an issue. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of having ADHD. Thanks to modern medicine more and more of these babies are surviving and thriving than in the past.

2. Why are there so many theories about the cause of ADHD? What are the most common?

There has been much research into the cause of ADHD and while the exact cause is still unknown, differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to controls have been found in three areas: anatomical, chemical, and functional. There is also a strong genetic component as well.

3. Is ADHD pharmaceutical treatment really necessary?

Taking medication is one option in the treatment of ADHD. There are alternative methods too. Prescribed medication such as Ritalin works exceptionally well for some people. Research has shown that stimulant medication works for about 70-75% of the adults who take it. However, for some, benefits are outweighed by side effects such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and an increase in heart rate or blood pressure. Some people have used prescribed ADHD drugs at a time in their life when it was helpful, perhaps while at university. Yet now they are in a different phase of their life and no longer take it. For others, they are very opposed to taking medication. Medication can be helpful, but it’s not a cure all and even adults taking ADHD medication still use alternative treatments. Taking medication is a personal decision and one that can be evaluated regularly.

4. Alternative treatments for ADHD

In my book, Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach Your Full Potential as an Adult with ADHD, I outline 11 steps to minimize your unwanted ADHD characteristics so that the gifts of ADHD can shine through. These range from diet, exercise, sleep, and time management to the people in your life and goal-setting. These holistic approaches have proven to be highly successful in treating ADHD.

5. TV, video games, and ADHD

Watching TV can be a nice way to unwind and give your busy brain a break when the work day is over. It is also often used to keep you company while you are doing boring and repetitive tasks such as housework or clearing clutter. However, the danger with TV and video games is that you become so engrossed that you stay up late and then have difficulty functioning due to lack of sleep the next day. This then makes your ADHD symptoms worse.

6. The ADHD diet link

When you eat a healthy diet full of whole foods and good, quality protein spaced evenly throughout the day, your ADHD brain stays fully nourished and repays you by functioning at its peak. In the 1960s, Dr. Feingold created a diet that was a strict elimination diet and he reported that no artificial coloring, flavouring, sweeteners, and preservatives helped children’s behavior. However, this is a very complex diet and the verdict is still out as to whether or not it is actually effective. I like to keep things simple and easy for my clients and the way of eating I mentioned above is very effective.

The ADHD Coach’s Top 5 Tips For Healing Your Cold

Catching cold isn’t pleasant, and because it is ‘just’ a cold there is lots of pressure to carry on as usual even though actually you feel pretty ill. Here are the ADHD Coach’s top 5 tips for beating your cold so you can continue on your brilliant ADHD journey.

1. Emergen-C
Besides having a really catchy title, this product is incredible. It is packed full of Vitamin C, antioxidants and electrolytes. It comes is sachets that you mix with water and you can literally feel all the goodness as you drink it.

2. Echinacea Tea

This tea works miracles with whatever ailment you have, however it’s particularly good for colds. Besides its healing properties when you have a cold, it also cures your dehydration and warms you up.

3. Nasal Irrigation

This might seem strange the first time you use it, but by rinsing your nose you clear away mucus, irritants, bacteria and viruses. It’s an old tradition in India and now a company called Neilmed has created a product that makes it really easy to do. I use the SinuRinse Nasal Wash Kit

4. Chicken soup
It’s not an old wives tale. Chicken soup has been scientifically proven to help you get over your cold. If you are really sick, you probably won’t feel like heading to the kitchen so make a big batch now and freeze it, just in case.

5. Sleep
Those old wives really knew what they were talking about! It’s not a myth – you do heal when you sleep. Never skim on sleep, but particularly when you have a cold. Get as much sleep as you need and you will notice how much speedier your recovery is.

5 Little Known Ways to Mange Stress


1) Exercise

Exercise is a great stress-buster. Not only does it relax the body and mind and reduce the chance of diseases; exercise helps your ADHD by improving attention and focus, increasing memory and reducing anxiety. Start to exercise for 30 minutes every day and notice the benefits immediately.

2) Omega 3

Many studies have shown that people who consume omega 3 supplements on a regular basis are better able to handle stressful situations and the less one consumes, the higher the stress level. Omega 3 is an incredible addition to everyone’s diet who has ADD because it helps the ADD brain in a similar way that prescribed drugs such as Ritalin do.

3) Meditation

When you meditate, your whole body, and mind, relaxes. Your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure reduces, and there is a reduction in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Your mind ages more slowly and you have clearer thought. In terms of your ADD, meditation has a remarkable effect as it increases cognitive functioning and concentration and improves self esteem and confidence.

4) Sleep

When we sleep, our body restores itself. Sleep keeps us physically healthy and mentally sharp. It is ironic that when we are stressed we allow ourselves less time to sleep. Getting enough sleep is particularly important for an adult with ADD as lack of sleep makes ADHD systems greatly increase.

5) Your Personal De-Stressor Techniques

You have probably developed a knowledge of what relaxes you. Some people bake, others iron (the repetitive motion is very relaxing) others take a bubble bath or watch an inspirational movie. Make sure you add your own, fun de-stressor techniques into your life too.

If you are feeling stressed and your ADHD seems to be worse than usual, now is the perfect time to get assistance from someone who understands and has personally helped 100’s of people just like you. To learn more about how I can guide you go to: http://untappedbrilliance.com/adhd-coaching

Revealed: Why Knowing What Your Strengths are Makes Your Life Easy and Fun

Everyone has a unique set of characteristics or strengths. When you ‘work’ with these strengths life doesn’t feel like work at all, instead it feels effortless and fun. You feel happy and in touch with who you really are. In contrast if you aren’t utilizing your strengths you feel as though there is something missing in your life.

When you are using your strengths you feel invigorated, energized and alive – like the energizer bunny you could keep going for hours. Compare this to when you aren’t working with a strengths – you quickly feel exhausted. Another interesting thing is you don’t have to mentally psych yourself up or motivate yourself to do a task when you are using your strengths. There is a natural desire or pull towards the activity.

So what are YOUR strengths? In their book “Character Strengths and Virtues” Psychologists Peterson and Seligman identified 24 personal strengths which they grouped into 6 categories

As you read the list below see which resonate the most with you.

Personal Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge
1. Creativity
You think of new and original ways to do things.
2. Curiosity
Always very interested in the world around you.
3. Open-Mindedness
Open to new ideas, non-judgmental, able to see both sides.
4. Love of Learning
A student of life, love constantly learning new knowledge and skills
5. Perspective
See the world with perspective and wisdom

Personal Strengths of Courage
6. Bravery
Act without fear of physical or emotional threat.
7. Persistence
Have an “I started so I will finish” attitude
8. Integrity
Act in a genuine, authentic and honest way.
9. Vitality
Have zest, enthusiasm and energy for life.

Personal Strengths of Humanity
10. Love
Place a high value on the close relationships you have with others
11. Kindness
Happy to perform good deeds for others with care and compassion
12. Social intelligence
Have your finger on the pulse of the emotions of the people around you.

Personal Strengths of Justice
13. Citizenship
Loyal team member
14. Fairness
Treat all people equally with no bias
15. Leadership
Maintain good relationships with the group while moving them forward

Personal Strengths of Temperance
16. Forgiveness
Able to forgive others and not hold a grudge
17. Humility
Displays modesty, let your accomplishments speak for themselves rather than brag
18. Prudence
Are cautious, thinks of consequences before taking action
19. Self-Regulation
Able to control own emotions and impulses

Personal Strengths of Transcendence
20. Appreciation of Beauty and excellence
Appreciate natural and man-made beauty in the world
21. Gratitude
Is thankful. Count your blessings
22. Hope
Always optimist about the future
23. Humour
Laughs readily,gives laughter to those around you.
24. Spirituality
Believes there is a higher purpose, has faith.

When you read the following list you will probably resonate with almost all of them!. However the trick is to narrow down your strengths to just 3 to 5.

Now that you know what your strengths are, start to make changes in your life so that you are using your strengths at work and at play.

When you focus on your weaknesses, through hard work and effort you can get by, but why waste all that time and energy when you can focus on your strengths excel and have fun as well?

Actions
Identify your strengths using this list
Think about how you again use your strengths in all aspects of your life.
Ask yourself ‘Are there any new activities I would like to include in my life”?
Ask yourself “Are there any activities I am currently doing that I would like to exclude from my life”?
Start to enjoy how easy and fun life is when you are working with your strengths.

Revealed: Why Google is FAB if you have ADHD

Google.

I am a huge fan of Google. Its sounds like a strange thing to say out loud, because most people are and so it’s sort of a given.  Besides providing a great search engine, Google has some other fabulous features which are great for people with ADHD.

My two favorite Google tools for adults with ADHD are Google Documents and Google Calendar. Since they are web-based, you can access your information from any computer, whether you are at home, work, a friend’s place, or cafe. Plus it doesn’t matter how many computers or gadgets you lose, you won’t lose your valuable information.

You don’t need to have a Gmail account to access these tools—although I highly recommend that too!—you just need a Google account which you can create in just a few minutes.

Google Documents
Google Documents looks like other word processors, so there is no learning curve. The incredible thing about the Google Docs is that your work is saved automatically for you almost every second. You never have to press “Save” again. EVER.  So many people with ADHD forget to save the information they are working on, and then it gets lost forever. That feeling of loss and frustration is a thing of the past. There are also other features that might be useful to you like spreadsheets and the ability to work with other people on the same document at the same time.

Google Calendar
Google Calendar has many great features. You can access your schedule from any computer, phone, or iPhone, and receive email or text message reminders of your upcoming appointments. This will dramatically reduce the chances of you missing an important appointment. It’s also very easy to share your calendar with the important people in your life.

If you are more traditional, it’s very easy to print your calendar out so you have a paper version.

Actions for this Week
1.Create a Google account (if you haven’t already).
2.Have a look at both Google Docs and Calendar.
3.Decide how you can use them to make your life easier.
If you liked this article, you will enjoy these too…

http://untappedbrilliance.com/adhd-tools

http://untappedbrilliance.com/adhd-websites

Easy Ways to Increase Productivity With ADHD

Here’s a quick and easy way to increase productivity (and happiness!)

We are all born with a unique internal body clock that controls when we feel tired, the type of food we crave and what activities are appealing to us at any given time. Our body clock ( which is actually a group of 10,000+ nerve cells located in the brain’s hypothalamus) explains why some of us are night owls and others are early birds.

When you match your daily activities to your circadian rhythms (i.e. your bodies preferred time for doing them), magic happens. You become more productive, happier and life generally feels ‘easy’. You no longer have to rely on mental determination to get something done, or waste hours on a task that you know you are capable of doing in 20 minutes.

I first realized how powerful body clocks are when I noticed the extremely different experiences I had when running. On an early morning run, even a short one, it was both physically and mentally challenging and when I got home all I wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep. Yet if I ran in the evening, the run was easy, fast and really fun. Afterwards I would be bouncing around and couldn’t fall asleep even if you paid me.

You have also probably noticed how sometimes you can try to do a task and it feels like pulling teeth and other times it’s a total breeze. A few simple changes in your life means that you can work with your body clock and not against it to experience increased productivity and happiness.
Here is what to do.

1) Notice what is working for you right now. There are probably tasks and activities that you do at the moment because you already made the connection. Keep doing them!

2) Experiment with your other activities both at work and home to find when they are easy and fun, and when you are struggling against the grain.

3) If something is a struggle, STOP doing it at that time right away!

4) Once you realize what times suit your body clock, commit to doing tasks at these times.
It’s easy to get influenced by what works for other people (remember our body clocks are unique!) or what your mind would prefer, e.g. you might enjoy the idea of waking up at 5am to do___ but your body clock doesn’t agree.

5) Notice how more enjoyable life is and how much more productive you are when you work with your body clock.

Taking Losses in Stride With ADHD

Late Sunday evening I landed at Montreal airport after being in an intensive three-day conference, followed by a whirlwind 24 hours with my BFF, Lisa, in Boston. My brain was buzzing with tons of ideas. Since I only had US dollars, I stopped at the airport cash machine for some Canadian currency. The money emerged from the machine and I grabbed my receipt and walked away. I would have kept walking if a man hadn’t tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but I think that machine just ate your bank card.” Sure enough, that hungry airport bank machine had eaten my card.

Had I been conscious of my physical actions rather than dancing with all the ideas in my head, I would have been where I needed to be to retrieve my bank card BEFORE I walked away!

Even though I did feel a bit stupid, it wasn’t the end of the world. In the back seat of the cab, I made a call to my bank. They cancelled that card and will be sending me another card in the mail.

However, this event got me thinking. This sort of thing happens to my ADHD clients all the time. The steps in Untapped Brilliance help reduce the amount of times that they happen, but they are still going to happen from time to time. If the lost item situation can be dealt with promptly and effortlessly, it doesn’t have to be any more painful or emotional than watching your favorite TV show.

The phrase “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” comes to mind.We don’t want you to lose things, but if you do, it’s good to have a plan.Here are four steps to help you handle a lost item in stride:

1. Remember, whatever it is you have lost – driver’s license, passport, bank card, cell phone, laptop – they are all replaceable. The main thing is that you are physically safe and well.

2. Don’t criticize or feel bad about yourself when something is lost. It happens to everyone. The lady I spoke to explained that it happens all the time. That very day, a person had lost their 78th card.

3. Create back-ups! If you have a back-up plan, then the loss itself isn’t going to be so great and you won’t be thrown into a frenzy.

a. List all of your important items: passport, bank card, driver’s license, cell phone, etc.

b. For each of these items, make a photo copy or write down the information. For your cell phone, record telephone numbers.

c. Keep all this information somewhere at home and safe! It could be in your filing cabinet or a fire-proof safe. You will know a good place for yourself as you are reading this.

d. When you realize you have lost something, take action straight away. Don’t procrastinate! This minimizes any problems, e.g. someone else using your bank card, and it allows you to move on without mulling for weeks over how unorganized you are or other negative messages you tell yourself.

Attention and ADHD

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. However, the name “Attention Deficit” is slightly deceptive as ADHD is more about how attention is controlled rather than an actual shortage of attention. It is tricky for someone with ADHD to focus on the most important thing at any given moment since it’s hard to filter out the less important things that are occurring in the environment.

For example, if you are having a conversation with a friend, in an ideal world you would focus on them so they know you are listening and that listening to them is important to you. Yet it’s hard to do that when you can hear a siren going off in the distance, people are moving around in your peripheral vision and your phone is vibrating in your pocket.

The perfect way to illustrate that ADHD is not about a “deficit” of attention is hyper-focusing. Hyper-focus is the ability to focus intently on one activity for hours at a time. When an activity interests you, your focus is exceptionally strong and the rest of the world disappears into the background. Hyper-focusing, like distractibility, is thought to be due to low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Hyper-focus can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a gift in the sense that it allows you to make enormous headway into projects in a way that a non-ADHDer can only dream of. The downside is that if you have other tasks you are supposed to be doing, they can get left by the wayside.

Here are some ways to make hyper-focusing work for you:

1. Fill your life with activities you enjoy as much as possible.
2. With tasks that you have to do, make them as interesting as possible for yourself. For example, the famous swimmer Michael Phelps hated reading and math when he was in school. To make these activities interesting and compelling, Michael’s resourceful mom gave him the Sports section of the newspaper to read and customized math problems to cater to his interest, such as “If you swim one meter per second, how long would it take to swim 800 meters?”
3. After you have done a boring task or two, do one of your hyper-focus tasks as a reward.
4. If you are doing a task that you know you are going to hyper-focus on, yet have other commitments, set an external reminder, such as a timer, cell phone alarm or person, to physically remind you that it’s time to move on.
5. Enjoy the gift of hyper-focus. When channeled in the right direction, it can allow you to excel in life.

ADHD Hyperactive Impulsive Type

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD displays itself differently in an ADHD adult than in a child. The characteristics are more internal and less obvious to the casual observer.

Here are 18  characteristics you could be experiencing if you have Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

Hyperactivity

1) Always in motion. Even when sitting, you are fidgeting with your hands busy or your feet are tapping.
2) Have a restless/aggravated feeling inside (sometimes to the point of pain) when a social situation requires ‘stillness’ e.g. long conversations, lectures, dinner
3) Multi task (do many things at once) +++ but not necessarily effectively
4) Feel bored a lot of the time.
5) Talk lots!…more than anyone else you know
6) Your mind is always racing and you have millions of thoughts
7) Crave excitement
icon coolADHD Hyperactive Impulsive Type Take risks in order to relieve boredom and feel alive
9) Drive MUCH faster than the speed limit, particularly on highways.

Impulsivity

10) Experience a low level of self control
11) Feel impatient when dealing with ‘slow’ people.
12) Answer a person before they have finished speaking.
13) Have a reputation for being rude, or not interested in other people
14) Says things without thinking and can offend people.
15) Difficultly understanding other’s personal boundaries (physical or emotional)
16) Unlikely to finish an entire book
17) Act spontaneously. This can put yourself and others in physical danger
18) Prone to addictions

If this is you, don’t be alarmed. There are things you can do to manage these characteristics.

Exercise Pick a  form of hard cardio exercise (that is fun for you) and do it every day. This is an incredible way to reduce hyperactivity. It helps calm your busy mind, burn of excess energy and help you feel grounded and calm

Eat the good stuff. Avoid sugar and ‘white’ products (e.g. white bread and pasta). Also avoid getting too hungry. Sugar, ‘white’ products and getting too hungry all produce huge highs and lows in the blood sugar and exacerbate ADHD. Check the guidelines for an ADHD diet.

Sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital . When getting by on too little sleep you experience things that mirror your ADHD like anxiety, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and increased distractibility

Meditation. Meditation helps quieten your busy mind, makes you feel calmer, less stressed and helps concentration. Practicing it for just 5 minutes each day makes a big difference.

Communication. If you notice that you said something you didn’t mean to, simply say “sorry that wasn’t exactly what I meant say” If you realized you interrupted someone simply say ” Sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt” by acknowledging it you will feel better and so will the person you are with. Instant damage control means there are no hard feelings.

Excitement. Create an exciting life for yourself. Fill your life with fun and engaging people. Engage in activities that are stimulating and exciting for you. Then not only will you feel less bored, you are also less likely to put yourself in danger or use recreational drugs or unhealthy amounts of alcohol.

When you employ these techniques (and any others that you have found work for you personally) you will notice a big difference in how you function in the world and feel about yourself.