Archives for February 2011

Anxiety and ADHD

Statics show that 50 percent of  ADHD adults also have an anxiety disorder,  for example Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social phobia or specific phobias, such as fear of flying or fear of spiders etc.

Not all anxiousness is bad. It can be a sign to get out of danger, that action is needed or it can help you to prepare for a big event.  However, if you experience constant anxiety that feels overpowering and you fear everyday situations it a hindrance, not a help.
When you have ADHD and anxiety it intensifies low self-esteem, increases stress and problems with cognition, such as memory.

My favourite book about anxieties is ‘from panic to power’ by Lucinda Bassett.  Lucinda has a positive outlook on anxiety. For example, she states that if you have increased anxiousness, you will also have above average intelligence, are highly creative, have a great imagination, detail-oriented and analytic. These characteristics give you the potential to achieve wonderful things. Yet, when you are suffering with anxieties you can scare yourself, imagine worse case scenarios, etc. and make yourself sick with anxiousness. Remember, no matter how severe your anxieties are they are treatable.

Anxiety and ADHD is a big topic, and over the next few weeks, I am going to be talking more about it.  However, there are things you can do right now to start helping your anxiety:

1)     Get diagnosed! A diagnosis is always a great starting point, as you then know exactly what you are dealing with.

2)     Exercise every day. I talk about exercising a lot in terms of helping your ADHD. If you have anxiety as well, there is double the reason to get your body moving. Cardio exercise helps disperse your anxieties.

3)     Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake. Both exacerbate anxious feelings.

4)     Take deep breaths. Breath in through your nose as deeply as possible. Feel your chest expand as your lungs fill with air. Then very slowly breathe out. Do this 10 times and notice how much calmer you feel.

5)     Get a copy of ‘From Panic to Power’ by Lucinda Bassett

6)     Know there is hope. No matter how anxious you are now, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

ADHD and Procrastination

Last week, the Internet access to my computer at work stopped. It stopped for no apparent reason and, was very annoying. However, despite it being annoying, and inconvenient it took me a full 7 days to get it fixed.
These were some of the excuses that were running through my head that stopped me from picking up the phone to get help:
1) The customer service people are rude
2) They will have to send someone out to fix it, and I can’t have a technician in my office when I have a client
3) It could be so complicated that there is no solution (this is my melodramatic reasoning :))
Finally today, I picked up the phone, and called the Internet service provider. I spoke to ‘Jason’ a very helpful technical expert who kindly explained step by step everything I needed to do. Within 25 minutes the Internet connection was working again. None of my imagined problems ever happened and of course, if they had they, I could have handled it.

I am still feeling happy hours later that everything is working again and am typing this with a big smile on my face.

Now, I know I am not the ONLY person to experience this type of procrastination! It’s a common theme with my clients.

So I am declaring this week, Blitz Procrastination Week!

Here’s what to do:

1) Draw a list of 7 items you have been procrastination on

2) Every day take action on one item

At the end of week, you will feel as light as a feather, because when you are procrastinating over tasks, they weigh heavily on you. Notice how when you have completed one action your energy level shoots through the roof, in a combination of relief and accomplishment.

After the 7 days is up, and you have got on top of your procrastination, try these additional tips so that your procrastination doesn’t get the better of you again:

1) Do one task you dislike first thing every day. This gets you use to doing things you don’t like to do. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

2) Time how long it takes do to the task. You will be surprised how little time it really takes. One client hated taking his garbage out, and it was becoming an unhygienic problem. Yet when he timed himself, the task took less than 5 minutes, much less time than he imagined. In his head he had built the task up so much it took forever! Now, if he feels procrastination setting in he remind himself, it only takes 5 minutes. That seems do-able and he gets the task done.

Happy Procrastination bursting week 🙂

The ADHD Diet

The ADHD Diet

Eating a healthy diet can be challenging even for the most organized person with loads of free time. So for someone with ADHD, consuming a healthy diet is an extra challenge.  However it is extra important for you, as not only is eating healthy foods good for your long term health, it also helps to manage your ADHD.

There are some complex,and extreme ‘ADHD diets’ that claim they can do all sorts of incredible things for your ADHD, For example, the Feingold  diet, which is a strict elimination diet with no artificial coloring, flavouring, sweeteners, and preservatives can help ADHD behavior. However, this is a very complex diet and there are mixed views as to how helpful it actually is.

I believe in great results for as little effort  as possible. The following guideline are for the ADHD diet that has proven very effective with my clients.

You will have more mental energy, clarity of thought, focus and increased attention, less emotional turbulence and less anxiety.

Once you have mastered these, and feel ready for the challenge of a more extreme diet, you can experiment, however usually it is not required.

Here are the guidelines:
1) Whole foods (not processed)
2) Brown not white ( rice, pasta, bread)
3) Omega 3, from natural sources (eg fish, rather than foods than have added them artificially)
4) Good quality protein, ( fish, chicken and eggs, rather than processed meat, hot dogs)
Sugar ( gives you a high and then a low, zapping your energy)
Simple Carbohydrates, ( white bread etc, acts the same as sugar)
Eat Protein with every meal, particularly breakfast
Eat regularly  throughout the day, ( brain stays fully nourished )
Drink lot of water
Drink Caffeine in moderation
Feel discouraged if you have a bad food day
This week, start to make some changes to your diet. Even small changes will help you feel more alert and focused and happy. If you need more information on the ADHD diet and how to implement it into your life, check out the book Untapped Brilliance.

ADHD and Anger


Anger management is a problem for adults with ADHDBefore writing this article, I looked up the definition of anger in the Oxford English Dictionary and what I found  was:
” the strong feeling caused by extreme displeasure”

However that seems a very delicate way to describe the intense emotions of fury and rage that engulfs an angry person and results in aggression and violence.

My personal experience of very angry people was in a hospital setting during my days as a nurse. Angry people are a little scary because of their unpredictability. You don’t know what they are going to do next, hurt you, themselves (e.g by hitting a wall) or both. In fact even the angry person rarely knows what they are going to do during this time.

Every day life, can evoke extreme anger in people, that is why there is road rage, fights, and damage to personal property.

Anger management is a problem for adults with ADHD for four reasons:

1) The impulsive aspect of ADHD means if you feel angry, you immediately express it. You don’t get the ‘lead time’ that a non ADHD person has even if it’s only a few seconds.

2) Low levels of frustration, mean that you experience frustration rapidly which can then trigger anger.

3) Mood swings,  ADHD adults can experience the whole range of emotions, from happiness, sadness,and anger all in the space of a morning. People with ADHD experience these mood changes more than a non ADHD person.

4) Stress, having ADHD is stressful. If your ADHD is unmanaged, you feel constantly overwhelmed and stressed.

Anger is a normal human emotion, and it can be useful. However, if you are feeling that your expression of anger is holding you back in life, or is becoming problematic for your relationships, here is what to do:

1.Walk away
No matter how hard, walk away from the provoking situation. The more you do this, the easier it will become. You can resolve the issue later. Because you have ADHD, your anger comes and goes quickly. So it won’t be long before you feel calm again.

2.Develop assertiveness skills
People that express anger, worry they will be taken advantage of. However expressing anger is just one way to deal with situations. Since the repercussions of anger are so devastating to personal relationships, assertiveness is a great tool to develop.

The intense anger you feel, is unlikely to be a result of what is happening in the current situation. It is more likely to be due to an unresolved issue from the past, and the current situation reminds you of the upsetting past experience. You might need help from a professional to assist you to make these connections, but getting to the root cause can be very freeing.

4.Learn to express yourself
Getting angry is how you express ‘extreme displeasure’. However, you can learn to do that in other ways too. You will be pleasantly surprised how much you achieve when you are developing good communications.

Exercise helps to dispel negative emotions. Exercise every day.
You might consider taking up a Martial art. Not only is it a great exercise, it is a great way to discipline your emotions and channel them in a controlled way.

Remember, experiencing anger doesn’t make you a bad person. After having an angry explosion, you might feel exposed, ashamed and mortified. Don’t dwell on these feelings to make yourself feel bad. Do however use them them as a catalyst for change.