A Simple Tip to Make Your Life Less Complicated

When I was studying psychology, I came across a fascinating study about memory. A group of people who identified themselves as having a good memAHDH Life Hackory were closely studied. After observing them at home and in their workplace, researchers found this group didn’t have a better memory than other people. Instead they had created an environment that supported their memory. For example, if they ran out of milk, they had a visual reminder as a memory prompt so they remembered to buy more milk. [Read more…]

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…]

ADHD and Weekly Reviews

One of the characteristics of ADHD is not always learning from your experiences. It might be because you are in rush and dashing to the next task or appointment or because you are distracted or perhaps your mind is so full that there isn’t room for one more thing.

 ADHD and Weekly ReviewsWhatever the reason, if you did not get a chance to process and reflect on an event (big or small) you can end up feeling like you are in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ and each day is a repeat of yesterday.

It could be that you are always apologizing to the same people for being late. Or perhaps you forget that something is not enjoyable until you are in the same situation again, each time promising yourself never again.

Not taking a few moments for reflection also means that there is no time to congratulate yourself when something goes well.

This is why having a Weekly Review is so important when you have ADHD!

Spending time reviewing your week might sound boring and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. It only takes 10 minutes, and it can be enlightening, empowering and a really great way to help you to reach your potential.

Here is a simple ADHD-friendly way to review your week and your life.

1)Pick a time that makes sense for you.  For example Friday afternoons, or Sunday evenings. Make it a recurring event.

2) Create a Word or Google document and label it ‘Weekly review.’

Ask yourself 2 questions:

What worked this week?

What didn’t work?

Under ‘What worked’ write down everything that went well for you this week. Use bullet points so that you aren’t tempted to write long paragraphs. You can, but we want this to be a weekly habit; if you feel like you have to write pages,  procrastination could set in and it won’t get done.

Here is an example:

*Went to bed every night before midnight and was able to get up with the alarm every week day morning,

*Took gym clothes to work and went straight to gym after work… 3 times

* Took a shopping list to the supermarket and only bought what was on the list. Saved about $40 on impulse purchases

Keep doing the things that worked!

Under ‘What didn’t work’ write down the things that didn’t go so well. Also problem solve to think of a solution.

For example,

*Went to the theatre with friends. Forgot how bored and restless it makes me feel.

Will suggest we try doing X instead next time they invite me.

*Impulsively interrupted Sally again. She accepted my apology but seemed offended.

Even though Sally talks very slowly, I will practice focusing on each word she says, (almost like meditation) and wait until she has finished her sentence even if I know the answer.

Your review doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t worry if you don’t write down everything that didn’t work. Even just a few points will help you to operate differently next week.

Why do I need to write the weekly review?

There are many benefits to writing down your review rather than just thinking about your week. The act of writing forces reflection time. If your weekly review was just a mental one, it might be easy to get distracted or miss parts.

Your review document becomes more valuable as the weeks go by. You get to see your progress, which helps build your confidence and self-esteem. It jogs your memory of things you might have forgotten, and you will also see themes emerge.

If there is a stressful phase in your life, good habits can disappear. Then, when the stress has gone, it is very easy to forget what you were doing -sometimes for years. This document allows you to jump back on the horse quickly.

This week schedule your first weekly review, and let me know how it goes!

 

Nature and ADHD

ICRIA1E6DEDid You Know There is a Positive Link Between Spending Time In Nature and ADHD?

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that 20 minutes in nature (green therapy) helps reduce unwanted symptoms of Adult ADHD among its participants. One of the reasons why green therapy works is because when you and your brain is in a relaxed place, your voluntary attention decreases (goaldirected attention) and your involuntary attention takes over, so your brain can rest and refresh itself.

Good news for city dwellers! the benefits of being outside in a green area were present, whether the participants were in a city park or a remote rural setting.

There are all sorts of ways to incorporate green time into your day, from a gentle stroll to something more adventurous. Here is a list of some activities you can do to while you are spending time in nature.

1. A stroll or gentle walk

2. Bike riding

3. Inline skating / skateboarding

4. Horseback riding

5. Growing a garden

6. Hiking

7. Canoeing

8. Fishing

9. Running

10. Flying a kite

11. Camping

12. Gardening

13. Yoga or Tai Chi (outside)

14. Bird watching

15. Walking your dog

 

Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, some of these activities, you will only be able to do at the weekend, while others are more accessible and you can do them every day. If you aren’t used to being outside in a green setting, slowly integrate it into your life, until its part of your daily routine.

Remember, its important to be in a green setting and not just outside: The greener and more natural the environment, the bigger the reduction in ADHD symptoms.


Action Steps for Spending Time in Nature

1.     Have at least 20 minutes of green time a day (but there is no maximum).

2.     Try every item on the list once, just for fun.

3.     On days that you aren’t able to go outside, notice and compare how you feel and function to those days that you are outside.

How do you spend time in nature?

 

ADHD Checklists. A Simple Way to Feel Organized

A few years ago, as I was flying back to Montreal after visiting my family in England, I was catching a short flight from England to Paris, followed by a long haul flight from Paris to Montreal.

When I climbed on board the airplane in England, someone was sitting in my seat. The air stewardess asked me to wait until all the passengers had boarded then she would find me another seat. Meanwhile, the pilot and copilot walked onto the plane and invited to me to join them in the cockpit (as this was a before 9/11). Sitting in the jump seat, I had the best flight ever. It was a bit like a fair ground ride. As exciting as the experience was for me, it was all in days work for the pilot and copilot. They were chatting to me and each other about regular things such as going to Tescos  that evening to pick up groceries.

Taking off and landing required their full attention. Though before takeoff, they explained they couldn’t chat with me for a while. Then, the copilot pulled out a binder full of checklists and methodically read out each line while the pilot physically checked out each item on the airplanes dashboard.

When I was a nurse, we used checklists too. Before a patient is escorted from the ward to surgery, a nurse uses a pre-op checklist. They check the patients hospital ID, that they have the right notes and xrays, that all jewelry and false teeth have been removed. Each item on the checklist is designed to help keep the patient safe during surgery.

With all the modern technology available these days, a simple checklist can get overlooked because it seems like a basic tool. Nevertheless, basic can be powerful!

As someone living with ADHD, you can use checklists to your advantage. They make you feel organized, competent, support your memory and help you to use your time more effectively.

Here are some suggestions of how to use checklist.

*Have checklists on the front door, with all the items you need for the day. Phone, wallet, keys, lunch, bus pass etc.

*Have checklist of actions for daily routines. For example, your morning routine checklist might include shower, shave, eat breakfast, take meds, clean teeth, etc.

*If you have a hobby where you need to remember a lot of items, a checklist is very handy.

*For tasks you dont do every often, such as taxes, create a checklist. Your list will help you break any resist or overwhelm you feel in starting these task, because you know exactly what actions you need to do.

*At work, there might be multistep tasks, where it is easy to get distracted or lost. Having a checklist helps you see a task through to completion.

*Is there another area of your life where you would like to feel more organized? If so, write a checklist!

Some ADHDers feel that they shouldnt need a checklist to remember to do basic things like getting ready in the morning. Or at work, you might feel silly because no one else has one. Still, there is no shame in having a checklist and just because they dont have one, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from having one! 🙂 Checklists help you to feel and look highly organized.

Where do you keep your checklists?

You could keep them in a binder like the copilot did. Or you could tape them in convenient places around your home or office. For lists you dont use very often, you could keep it in your computer and print it out when you need it; for example,tax session.

How do you make a checklist?

Some things like your morning routine, you might be able to write it out from memory. For more complicated lists, such as for taxes, have a pen and paper nearby as you are doing the task and write down key steps in real time. Then, you have the list for the future.

After completing your checklist, try it out a few times, and make any alterations. Then, when you have a final list, type it out and keep it in a plastic envelope, or even get it laminated to keep it clean.

In The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande, identifies some key points to help you draw up an effective checklist:

1.     Have five to nine items. (You dont need to include things you do automatically; just the things that get missed.)

2.     Have all the items on one page.

3.     Keep the list clutter-free.

4.     Use upper and lower case text (as its easier to read).

5.     Choose a font that you can read easily.

What checklists are you going to make?

 

 

ADHD and Bulletproof Coffee

ADHD and Bulletproof CoffeeRight now, I am sitting, typing on my laptop and drinking a rather tasty cup of coffee. It’s not just regular coffee though, it’s Bulletproof Coffee!

Bulletproof Coffee is the brainchild of Dave Asprey. Dave Asprey spent a lot of his life overweight. He was a successful Silicon Valley multi-millionaire, yet he was battling brain fog, food cravings and frustration at being 300lbs. Dave decided to apply the same concept of hacking computers to hacking his biology. He lost weight and became physical and mental fit.

Bulletproof Coffee is essential coffee with butter in it. Even though I like trying new things, butter in coffee sounded weird. I tried that first sip with trepidation. Nevertheless, it tastes just fine and the benefits on my brain are incredible.

Here’s what I experienced:

  1. Mental sharpness
    My brain feels crystal clear and mentally sharp. No brain fog or trying to kick my brain into gear.
  2. Mental energy and motivation
    The first 2 of hours of the day, I usually write. With regular coffee, I had to use a lot of will power not to procrastinate and do something less taxing. But with Bulletproof Coffee, 2 hours of productive writing whizzes by.
  3. No jitters
    As much as I love coffee, it would make me feel a bit jittery and sometimes anxious. I get zero jitters with Bulletproof Coffee.
  4. Happiness
    I consider myself a pretty happy person. However, after a Bulletproof Coffee, I feel really happy. It’s not in a high or giddy way; just an inner happy glow.

I often use myself as a guinea pig because although I don’t have ADHD, I am severely dyslexic. Most things that work for me, also work for the ADHD brain. Clients with ADHD who have tried Bulletproof Coffee have experienced similar results.

Bulletproof Coffee is all about the quality of your ingredients. The official recipe calls for super high quality ingredients. Though attempting to get those specific ingredients was putting me off trying the coffee. What I did instead was a compromise. The ingredients I use are still good quality, just not Dave Asprey’s standard.

Here is the official Bulletproof Coffee recipe:

  • 2 cups of black Upgraded Coffee
  • 2 tbsp of grass-fed butter
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) of MCT oil

In the blender, mix all the ingredients so the oil emulsifies and looks like a latte.

And here is a video of Dave Aspery making the coffee.

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/

Here is my modified version:

  • Organic black coffee
  • Organic butter
    (100% grass fed butter is hard to find in Canada. However, if you live in the US or Europe, you can use Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter or Anchor Butter in Australia and Asia.)
  • Organic coconut oil

Stir with a spoon; rather than the blender.

Using these ingredients, I got my awesome results. Also, I have had great feedback from ADHD folks who have tried this version of Bulletproof Coffee too.

So, are you going to try a Bulletproof Coffee?

Word of caution: Coffee doesn’t suit everyone with ADHD. As always, listen to your body.

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.

Why is Omega 3 Important When You Have ADHD?

Did you know that people with ADHD have less omega-3 in their bodies than people without ADHD?  Low levels of omega-3 can result in poor attention, focus, working memory issues and mood swings, all of which are very much like ADHD symptoms.
omega 3 and omega 6 for adhd

Of course, low levels of Omega-3 do not cause ADHD, nor does increasing your omega-3 levels cure ADHD.  However, researchers have found that taking a supplement does improve ADHD symptoms.

7 Benefits of Taking Omega-3

*Improves classic ADHD symptoms. For example it increases focus and attention.

*Increases memory, motivation and learning. Watch this compelling video about how omega-3’s helped transform Elliot’s life.

*Reduces feeling blue or depression. This is one of the biggest benefits clients report to me.

* Can help reduce symptoms of conditions that often co-exist with ADHD, such as  anxiety.

* Improvement in PMS symptoms. This is great news for ADHD women as many struggle with PMS and an increase in their ADHD symptoms.

* Might reduce the side effects of stimulant ADHD medication. Talk with your doctor before taking omega-3 with your prescribed medication.

* Better quality sleep.

What Exactly is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. They are aptly named ‘essential’ because they are vital for your health.  They keep our brain and nerves working well and are used to build new cells.  Since our bodies cannot produce this type of fat, we need to make a conscious effort to consume it.

The main categories of essential fats are omega-3 and –omega-6. If you are eating a typical western diet, you don’t need to worry about getting enough omega-6. You will already be getting lots from rapeseed soybean and sunflower seed oil.

However, it is much harder to get enough omega-3 without careful planning.

The ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 is also very important.  One hundred years ago, the ratio between the two fats in the average person’s diet were 1:1; now our average ratio is around 20:1, weighted towards omega-6.

Omega-3

There are 3 types of omega-3 fats: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

DHA is found in cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and rainbow trout.

EPA is also found in fish; however, the fish don’t produce it; instead they get it from eating algae.

ALA is found mainly in seed oils like flaxseed.  Our bodies then convert it to DHA and EPA.

Do I need to Take a Supplement?

Since Omega-3 has so many benefits when you have ADHD, and because it is quite hard to get enough from your diet alone, taking an omega-3 supplement is a good choice.  Paul Montogomery, researcher at the University of Oxford in England, says that people would be ‘lucky’ to increase their omega levels with diet alone.

When you are choosing a supplement, look for one that has more EPA’s than DHA’s. The ideal would be 3 or 4x EPAs to DHA’s.

Ways to Include Omega-3 Into Your Diet

In addition to taking a supplement, you can still include omega-3 into your diet. Here are some ideas.

Fish, such as Salmon, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout

Walnuts

Flaxseed

Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale.

What if I am Allergic to Fish?

If you are allergic to fish or are a vegetarian, you can still get the benefits from omega3. Check out this article to learn more.

What About Cod Liver Oil?

Cod liver oil is a fish oil;however, the levels of DHA and EPA are lower in cod liver oil than an omega-3 supplements.  To learn more about cod liver oil for ADHD, head here.

Speak With Your Doctor

Omega-3 supplements are sold at pharmacies, health food stores and on the internet. However,  speak with your doctor before you start to take them.  Like all supplements they have side effects and can change the way your body uses prescribed medication.

What if Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Agree With Me?

Some people find that Omega-3 supplements upset their stomach, give them fish burps,or just generally make them feel off.  To avoid this, start with a low dose and gradually increase to your recommended dose. Take your supplement with your main meal of day. Sometimes the ingredients in the capsules can be the reason why you feel ‘‘off’. In which case, a liquid form of omega-3 might be helpful. The liquid is often flavored, sometimes  with lemon, so that it tastes pleasant when you swallow it.

How Long Does it Take for Omega-3 Supplements to Start Working?

Research has shown that it takes approximately 4 weeks for improvements to be noticed. However, many of my clients notice differences in as little as a week.  Some people say they haven’t  noticed any improvement and decide to stop taking their omega-3 supplements. It is only after they stopped that they realize that they had been working after all.

 

Have you tried omega-3 supplements?

 

Why it’s Hard to Stop Multi-tasking!

Why it’s Hard to Stop Multi-tasking!This summer, I wrote an article called, ‘ADHD and Single Tasking’; all about why single tasking is the new multi-tasking. You can check it out here. If you are still multi-tasking, don’t feel bad. Today’s article explains why multi-tasking is compelling.

Daniel J. Levitin, a psychology professor at McGill University and author of the book, ‘The Organized Mind’, explains we can’t really multi-task because the brain can only do one thing at once. Rather than do 4 things at a time, the brain rapidly moves from one activity to the next.

However, every time we shift focus, we burn glucose, which is the food our neurons use. After a couple of hours of speedy shifting, we feel drained. In addition to using up our glucose store, cortisol (the stress hormone) has also been released, causing us to feel edgy and warping our self-perception.

This bit is key! When we are in this tired, edgy state, we think we are good at multi-tasking, but we aren’t; we just think we are. Levitin likens it to thinking we can drive safely after drinking a lot of alcohol.

When you have ADHD, multi-tasking can be part of your life for few reasons:

1) You are scared to forget to do something. You act on the thought right away, regardless of what you are working on when it popped into your mind.
2) You have a low threshold for boredom, uni-tasking feels boring.
3) You crave stimulation; so by flitting from one thing to the next quickly, life seems more exciting.

However, with your new knowledge that no one is good at multi-tasking (even you), experiment with single-tasking. Switch off your phone, close down all the windows open on your computer and give one task all your attention. If it feels weird at first, sit through that feeling. If you remember something you need to do, jot it down on a notepad, so you don’t forget and bring your focus back to the task at hand. Not only will you feel calmer, more energized, you will also get a lot more done!

Are you a multi-tasker or a single tasker? Let me know in the comments section below!