5 Steps to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

The summer I was 18 years old, me and my friend Claire got a job at the local soap factory. The factory hired students every summer to help them prepare their Christmas orders.  Our job was to stand at the end of a conveyor belt and put trays containing an assortment of soaps into gift boxes, one tray per box.

As part of the interview process we had been given a dexterity test to check that we could move our hands quickly. However, that first day, while our head and hands were getting use to this new task, our hands didn’t seem to be moving fast enough.

I remember feeling really overwhelmed every time I looked  down the conveyor belt.  As far as the eye could see there were  gray trays filled with pretty soaps heading towards us. We had to keep moving fast otherwise there would be a log jam.
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ADHD and PMS

ADHD and PMSPremenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is never pleasant, but when you have ADHD, it can strike louder and harder. During the first half of your cycle, you probably feel ‘normal’, clear headed and productive. Then, as your period gets closer, you begin to feel like Mr. Hyde.

Beside the regular physical symptoms of PMS such as:

Acne

Changes in sleep patterns

Dizziness

Fluid retention

Headaches

Hot flashes

Nausea

Zero energy

Your ADHD symptoms can get much worse, and you can find it difficult to: [Read more…]

How to Wake Up When You Have ADHD

Waking up at a particular time can be very difficult when you have ADHD and it can cause huge problems, such as being late for work, flights, interviews or lectures.

If you have difficulty waking up, don’t just see it as a morning problem; instead, look your sleep habits as a whole. Everything is connected and if you can’t wake up, it could be because:
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Why do ADHDers Find it Difficult to Have an Organized Space?

Tidying UpLiving in a cluttered, unorganized environment is a common thing when you have ADHD. However, being surrounded by ‘stuff’ can make your ADHD symptoms worse. It is harder to focus and concentrate. It is easier to lose important items like keys and important paperwork, and it can also exacerbate coexisting conditions such as anxiety.

Here are 8 reasons why ADHDers find it hard to have an organized space

1) Distraction

You might start one activity, get distracted and then you start working on a second activity leaving the items from the first activity lying around.

2) Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You don’t like to put belongings away in cupboards because you are scared that you will forget about them.

3) Procrastination

Tidying up is one of those boring mundane tasks that ADHDers hate to do. This means that you keep putting it off for another day.

4) Memory

You keep newspaper articles and other objects as visual reminders of things you want to do and see. Your fear of forgetting means you accumulate lots of items, and they are difficult to keep organized.

5) Collector

ADHDers love to collect things: teapots, baseball caps, pens, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is; I bet you collect at least one thing. These collections can grow large and are tricky to keep organized.

6) Overwhelmed

You feel overwhelmed just looking at your cluttered space, and you feel parallelized, fatigued and can’t take any action.

7) Don’t Know How

You honestly never learned how to be tidy and organized. It’s not an excuse, but being tidy and organized isn’t a skill that you were born with and maybe no one taught you how to do it properly.

8) Decisions, Decisions

Organizing requires many decisions in a short space of time.

Making decisions is hard when you have ADHD. It takes mental effort, and you might second guess your decision or beat yourself up for making the ‘wrong’ decision.

How many of those points resonated with you? Don’t worry if it was all of them!

The opposite of a disorganized cluttered space, is a calm, peaceful one in which you know where your belongings are, and you feel happy to invite an unexpected visitor into your home. How do you create that space? With the help of a brilliant book by Marie Kondo called, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.

The difference between this book and every other book written about organizing is that you ask yourself a different question. Rather than asking ‘what could I throw out’, you ask ‘what do I want to keep’. Marie suggests holding each item and asking “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, then you keep it, and if not, it is time to say goodbye.

It’s simple yet very powerful!

This simple question is very helpful for ADHDers because it cuts out all the mental negotiating that can happen in your mind. You don’t have to consider if the item was a gift, if you used it in the last year or, if you might need it again. Just ask one question, “Does this bring me joy?”

Here are 3 of my favorite tips from the book that I think will help you too.

1) Pick an Area You Want to Declutter

Start small, maybe a shelf. Remove everything from the shelf. Next, only put back  the things that bring your joy. After  you have tried the technique on a small area, and experienced for yourself how easy and fun it was, you will be very motivated to continue.

2) Start with Items That are Easier to Part With

Marie says people have trouble throwing out things that have:

Functional value (when you could still use the item)

Information value (has information you think you might need)

Emotional value (being anything sentimental)

Don’t start with any of these things! It will sabotage your good intentions. Instead, pick a category that will be easy for you. Marie suggests starting with clothes.

3) Don’t Let Your Family See What You are Getting Rid of

When people see what you are donating, they might seem shocked and you might find yourself second guessing your decisions. You have done so well to get to the donate / throw out stage; you don’t want a third person to change your mind.

With fewer items in your space, it is much easier to keep the area clean and tidy without even trying!

Have you tried any of these suggestions?

Does Everyone Have ADHD These Days?

balloons-1012541_640Have you noticed that everyone seems to have ADHD these days?

People say things like:
“Oh, I am so ADHD.”
“I am having an ADHD moment.”
“Sorry I am late… I must have ADHD.”

Of course, not everyone has ADHD! Stats show that between 4-5% of adults in the US have ADHD. Which means 95-96% of the population does not have ADHD.

When someone says, “I must have ADHD”, what they actually mean is that for a minute or 2 or maybe even a few hours, they were forgetful or distracted, etc.

The reason why so many people feel they have ADHD is that ADHD characters aren’t exclusive to people with ADHD. Everyone experiences memory slips, feel distracted and lose track of time, etc. from time to time. But, just because someone is forgetful, it doesn’t mean they have ADHD. In the same way that when someone feels sad for an hour, it doesn’t mean they have depression.

It’s the amount of these characteristics that a person experiences, their severity and how long they have been experiencing them (before the age of 7) that separates someone who has ADHD from someone who doesn’t. To see a detailed list of ADHD Inattentive Subtype characteristics, go here and for a list of ADHD Hyperactive Impulsive Type, head here.

It is good awareness about ADHD that has increased. It means that people who have ADHD are getting tested and getting the help they need. Conversely, with that increase has brought these casual comments.

When someone explains their behaviour as an ‘ADHD moment’, it’s usually met with laughter. However, when you are living with ADHD, it’s not a joke. Life can be stressful and it takes hard work to master techniques that come effortlessly to others.

These comments are particular confusing to those who are recently diagnosed with ADHD. They are still trying to make sense of what ADHD is and how it fits into their identity. Who wants to have something that everyone laughs at?

People who actually have ADHD rarely (if ever) say, “Oh, I am so ADHD”. Instead, they feel mortified that they let someone down, or are late or forgot something important. They also think very carefully about who to tell they have ADHD. They don’t drop it casually into conversation.

People often are concerned about getting officially diagnosed, because they think if they get officially diagnosed with ADHD, they will use it as an excuse. If you are concerned about that, don’t be! The fact that you are asking that question means that you are conscientious and won’t use ADHD as an excuse.

Nevertheless, because people who don’t have ADHD use it as an excuse, a common fear among parents and spouses, is that if their loved one gets diagnosed, they will stop trying. This, of course, creates more problems.

The next time someone says that “they are so ADHD”, don’t take it personally; don’t question if you have ADHD, and don’t let it side track your quest to tap into your brilliance!

12 Ways to Combat Shyness When You Have ADHD

12 Ways to Combat Shyness When You Have ADHDAdults with ADHD can struggle with shyness. While shyness goes against the stereotypical image of a hyperactive, life-of-the-party type, ADHD is much more diverse than that image.

Shyness has nothing to do with being an extrovert or introvert, or if you are hyperactive or an inattentive subtype. It has everything to do with how comfortable a person feels about themselves.

Many adults with ADHD don’t feel comfortable with themselves at all. They feel shame that they aren’t where they thought they would be at this point in their lives. They are worried about potentially embarrassing themselves by saying or doing something impulsively or by breaking a social rule that they didn’t know about.

There is often a lot of fear, perhaps stemming from memories of past social behaviour, or by being around critical people. Plus, small talk is agony for most ADHDers.

What is Shyness?

Shyness is a feeling of angst, awkwardness and unease in situations when you are near to people. It is usually heightened in new situations and new people. Blushing, ‘losing your tongue’ anxiety and stammering, are all part of feeling shy.

Feeling shy can stop you from doing things. Because being in situations where you feel shy is so unpleasant and uncomfortable, you would rather not do them. However, that can lead to feelings of loneliness, and frustration at unmet potential. The good news is that shyness doesn’t have to be permanent. You might always have shyness tendencies, but there is a lot you can do to help yourself feel more confident and comfortable in social situations.

While this article focuses on ways to step out of your shy shadow, there is no shame in being shy. Unfortunately, we do live a culture that values being social and so, people who are shy don’t feel as valued. Shyness can also be misinterpreted as ‘standoffish’ or ‘stuck up’; which of course isn’t true!

A surprising amount of famous people have been or are shy. It’s good to know that being shy doesn’t mean you can’t excel in your field. This website has a very comprehensive list of famous shy people.

http://www.shakeyourshyness.com/shypeople.htm

Introverts are Shy Too!

Shyness isn’t related to being introverted. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy. While shy people and introverts might both avoid social gatherings, the reasons behind that choice are made for different reasons. Introverts rejuvenate their energy by being alone. Shy people are avoiding a potentially painful experience.

Researchers are still learning more about shyness. Nevertheless, what they have found so far is that it might have genetic roots, and be influenced by both the environment the child was raised, and by their individual experiences.

The 3 Elements of Shyness

Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, author of ‘Shyness: A Bold New Approach’, says shyness has 3 elements:

· Excessive Self-Consciousness
You are intensely aware of yourself especially in social environments

· Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation
You are highly critical of yourself

· Excessive Negative Self-Preoccupation
You notice everything you are doing ‘wrong’ when you are with others.

Adults with ADHD are experts at the Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation; so much so that it can be debilitating.

Ready to combat your shyness? Here are 12 steps:

1. Identify Areas in Your Life Shyness is Causing You a Problem
You probably aren’t shy in every area. E.g. When you are with close family members.
Whichever areas where your quality of life would improve if you weren’t as shy. What are those?
Presentations at work, dating, meeting new people etc….

2. Stop Labeling Yourself as Shy
Growing up, well-meaning adults might have said things such as, ‘Don’t worry about John, he is just shy’. While letting people know that you are shy and not being rude is helpful on one level, if you have a label in your mind, then you do your best to fit that label. From now on, stop thinking of yourself as shy!

3. Start treating your ADHD
Everything becomes easier when your ADHD is being treated!

4. Join Toastmasters
Toastmasters gives you the practical tools to overcome shyness. If you know that you can talk in front of a room full of people, then you also know that you can talk in any other situation including on the phone or to an authority figure. You also learn how to ‘think on your feet’, so the right words will come to you when you are put on the spot, not 15 minutes later. It also helps address underlying issues, like confidence and self-esteem.

5. Improve Your Self-Esteem
Improving your self-esteem is very helpful in reducing shyness. Self-esteem is a big topic.
Still, here are a couple of things to do to help get your started.

a. Brain-storm all the things that are annoying you at the moment. Then, look at which ones you could take action on. Someone I know improved their self-esteem dramatically when they lost some excess weight that had been bothering them.

b. What are you naturally good at? Often, when you have ADHD, you spend so much time trying to ‘fix’ yourself that you don’t make time for your natural talents. For example, if you are a great piano player or artist or dancer, make sure you are doing those things on a daily or weekly bases.

6. Stop Being Highly Critical of Yourself
As you are breaking out of your shy comfort zone, it will be very helpful if you can talk to yourself with compassion; not criticism. It doesn’t matter if you dropped food down your top because you were nervous, or you forgot someone’s name. Instead, focus on the fact that you made an effort to go out. Richard Branson is very good at talking to himself kindly and with compassion. When you talk to yourself like this, it also helps improve your self-esteem.

7. Remember no one is looking
Shy people are intensely aware of themselves in social environments. It feels as if everyone is looking at your every move. They aren’t. They are busy thinking about how they appear to others! Or they might be listening to what the person they are talking to is saying, or thinking about what they will have for supper this evening. We will never know for sure. However, even though you are a super lovely person, all eyes won’t be on you. So relax.

8. Interesting Things to Say
A lot of people feel they don’t have anything interesting to say. Even if you feel this, it isn’t true. You have ADHD, which means you are always devouring new information. You have lots of interesting things to talk about!

9. Social Skills
Growing up, we aren’t given any formal social skills training. We are somehow expected to know it; which can be problematic when you have ADHD. There are a lot of ways to develop these skills, including working with a coach. Also, a great starting point is to read or listen to ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. It’s a classic and has some great tips. For example, do you know how a person will think you are a great conversationalist? It’s not by you doing a lot of talking. Instead, all you have to do is ask a few questions and let the other person talk, which is perfect for a shy person!

10. Hobbies
Joining groups focused on your hobbies is a great way to overcome your shyness. It helps you be with people; yet the focus isn’t on talking, it’s on the activity. Plus, you automatically have at least one thing in common, so conversations are easier. For example, if you like to run, join a running group; or a photography, quilting, scrapbooking or cooking group. There are so many! Meetup.com is a great way to find groups in your area.

11. Book Recommendation
If you like to read, check this book by Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci. ‘Shyness: A Bold New Approach’. It’s very helpful, informative and is based on decades of research on shyness.

12. Keep Track
Open a Google doc or Word document and keep track of your progress. Every time you go out of your comfort zone, record what happens. Did anything bad happen? What were the good things that happened? When you get hard evidence in writing, rather than memories that you have exaggerated (for the worse), it is much easier to see your progress and realize that bad things rarely happen and if they do, they aren’t that bad.

How to Create Healthy Boundaries When You Have ADHD

How to Create Healthy Boundaries When You Have ADHDAdults with ADHD often struggle with boundaries; either with enforcing their boundaries or respecting other peoples’ boundaries or both. Boundaries are rules you set for yourself, based on your values and priorities.

Some boundaries are automatically in place without you having to be consciously aware of them. For example, if a stranger stands too close to you, you instinctively step away in order to create a physical space that you are comfortable with.

However, not all boundaries are that easy. Sometimes you don’t know what your boundaries are, so you can’t enforce them. Other times, you know a boundary has been crossed, but you need to develop your assertiveness or confidence muscle to be able to enforce it.

Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, it’s worth strengthening your boundaries because healthy boundaries are vital for you to feel happy, be physically healthy, and have good relationships with everyone in your life.

Here is a list of areas where it’s important to have healthy boundaries:

  • Physical space
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Time
  • Physical body
  • Sexual
  • Material

How do you know what a good boundary is?

The thing with boundaries is, they are very personal. The best way to know if one of your boundaries is being crossed is to notice how you feel in everyday situations. If you feel a negative emotion (like resentment or anger), a pit in your stomach, or resistance, then that is a sign your boundaries have been crossed.

For example: A friend asks to borrow your car. You don’t feel comfortable lending it, but say yes. Notice what happens.

Your inner voice might be shouting, ‘I hate it when they ask me things like this. Why do they always ask me?’

That is a clue!

Physical sensations in your body, such as: a sinking feeling, an ‘off’ sensation, or sense of dread.

Other clues:

Your emotions – You might feel taken advantage of, or angry.

Your behaviour –You might drag your feet in making things happen. e.g. You might procrastinate in meeting them to hand over your keys. Or you might arrive late, or lose your keys.

These are all signs your material boundary has been crossed.

In contrast, if a friend asked to borrow your car and you wanted to lend it to them, you might feel happy you could help out, feel pleased they asked you and even go out of the way to make sure they get your keys.

The benefits of having clear strong boundaries are:

1) You feel happier

Because you are paying attention to your innate moral compass, and allowing that to guide you.

2) You have better relationships, at work and at home

Because you aren’t allowing people to cross your boundaries, there are no feelings of resentment. You like these people and feel respected.

3) You have increased energy

When you are constantly giving people more of your resources than you feel comfortable, your energy gets depleted. Having healthy boundaries means having a lot of physical and mental energy!

4) You have increased selfconfidence

You trust yourself to look after your own needs.

5) You are more productive

Because you have clear time boundaries and because you have more energy (see #3).

6) You have greater selfrespect

This is a nice side effect of other people respecting you and your increased confidence.

When you start to create and enforce your boundaries, it can be a bit scary. It means that you have to say ‘no’ to people who are used to you saying ‘yes’. It also means you have to become a little more assertive, and get comfortable doing things differently. However, the benefits are so worth it!

Are you good at knowing what your boundaries are? Leave a note in the comments below.

Do You Have ADHD And Daytime Sleepiness?

buddha-85673_128075 percent of adults with ADHD have problems with sleep, getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up are the most common issues. Another type of sleep problem is falling asleep during the daytime at unusual times. For example, in class, meetings or while driving. The people who experience this usually have inattentive ADHD.

This daytime sleepiness is interesting because it is triggered by the environment. If the environment is mentally stimulating and interesting, paying attention and staying awake is not a problem. However, if the setting is dull, then staying alert becomes impossible and the person falls asleep. It doesn’t matter how important the event is. VIPs could be at the meeting, or the class could be vital to getting a good grade, but if the content is boring, sleep takes over. However, if something exciting happens or if it’s possible to get up and move, then the sleepiness goes away.

Because physical movement stops the sleepiness, some people look to be hyperactive, but it really is a behavioural strategy they developed to stop themselves from falling asleep.

If the person had a disrupted nights’ sleep, then daytime sleepiness would be expected. But this group of people experience daytime sleepiness even after getting ample sleep at night time. An extreme form of struggling to stay alert is narcolepsy. It is possible to have ADHD and narcolepsy. However, the type of daytime sleepiness that these ADHDers have isn’t as severe as narcolepsy.

If you have an on-going problem staying awake during your day-to-day activities, here are some suggestions.

Rule out other options

1. Get checked out for sleep disorders, including Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome and Narcolepsy.
2. Get assessed for depression.

Treat your ADHD

3. If 1 and 2 comes back clear, then treating your ADHD is your next action step. Adults with ADHD and alertness problems find ADHD meds very helpful. Work closely with your prescribing doctor and find the therapeutic dose for you.
4. If you are taking ADHD meds, be sure that they are in full effect when you are driving in your car.

Make your environment stimulating

Here are a few examples

5. If you are doing a dull household task, use your timer to keep you moving as much as possible.

6. You might not be able to get out of a boring meeting, but you can liven it up for yourself by offering to take notes on the white board for everyone, or be one of the presenters.

7. Change activities frequently.

Do you ADHD and Daytime Sleepiness? What helps you?

ADHD and Hyperfocus

ADHD and HyperfocusWhen we focus on something, we make it the center of our attention. We block out distractions, (external and internal) and mentally engage with it, for minutes or hours at a time. Focusing is how things get done. It feels rewarding and satisfying.

ADHDers have the ability to take focusing to an entire other level and hyperfocus. When you hyperfocus, you do such a good job of blocking out distractions that you aren’t aware of what is going on around you. My friend, Bonnie was reading a newspaper while her 2 small children were happily playing. The next thing she knew, her daughters head popped up between her and the paper and she was saying, “Mom, are you in there?” She had been trying to attract her mom’s attention for several minutes before deciding she needed to physically check in.

This lack of awareness of what is going on around you, can get you into trouble; you might miss appointments or worse. In her book, Adventures in Fast Forward, Kathleen Nadeau writes about an ADHDer who was hyper-focusing on writing a paper. She was so engrossed, she didn’t notice that her house was on fire. “She had missed the sirens and all the commotion and was finally discovered by firemen, as she was working contentedly in her room while the kitchen at the back of the house was engulfed in flames!” says Nadeau.

When you hyperfocus on a work project, or a creative hobby, it feels fun, creative, productive and gives a huge sense of accomplishment. When you hyperfocus on something such as a TV watching binge, or 8 hours surfing the web, it doesn’t feel good because it comes with an element of guilt or shame. Also, the people in your life gets annoyed when you are late, or they want your attention and you seem to be ignoring them.

Hyperfocus can be confusing. You can’t really choose what you hyperfocus on. Boring mundane tasks, like housework will never be tasks that you can hyperfocus on, even though you wish you could. In order to hyperfocus on something, it has to be interesting, and just the right level of difficulty. Not too difficult; not too easy, but taxing enough that it engages your brain in a rewarding way.

Here are some tips so that you can enjoy the benefits of hyperfocusing and limit the negative.

1) Write down the activities that you do hyperfocus on: The good stuff and the not so good stuff.

2) Plan chunks of time when you can do the good activities. When you have ADHD,  a lot of the time, you are trying to force yourself to take action, or focus. It seems a shame to have to pull yourself away when you are being productive and focused.

For example, I get into the flow when I do my taxes (I know it s weird!) So once a year, I schedule an uninterrupted day where I can do all the tax things at once. This takes advantage of my brain energy and makes an enjoyable day.

3) Limit hyperfocus on the not so good stuff. When you have identified your danger activities, you can still do them, but know when you start them, it will be hard to disengage. For example, if a particular computer game is one of your hyperfocus things, plan to play a day at the weekend, rather than in the week when you have work commitments.

4) Set very loud timers. If you have an appointment, or a time you need to stop doing a task, set a very loud timer and put it away from where you are sitting. This means you will physically have to get up to switch it off. You will be forced to mentally disengage and then, it will be easier to stop your hyperfocus activity.

 

What activities do you hyperfocus on? Leave a note in the comment below!