Your ADHD Health Overhaul!

kit-1704526_640When you have ADHD, it is easy to forget that your ADHD is just one part of you.  All of your time can be spent thinking of ways to manage your unwanted ADHD traits and leave no time to take care of the rest of you, including your physical health.

Taking care of your physical health is extra important when you have ADHD as statistics show that people with ADHD are more likely to have stress related illnesses, be overweight and develop diabetes than someone without ADHD.

ADHD symptoms can cause problems too. Procrastination, fear of picking up the phone or feeling ashamed that it has been a long time since your last appointment are just a few reasons why it can be hard to book appointments.

This is why once a year it’s good to have a health overhaul! This is where you take care of  all your health worries, as well as routine health appointments that might have been forgotten.

This time of year is perfect to do your health overhaul because the New Year brings with it a fresh energy and there are lots of visual reminders on the web and magazine stands to focus on your health.

There are 10 steps for your health overhaul:

1. Mentally Scan Your Body

Do a mental scan of  your body from head to toe, and write down which doctors you need to visit. Here are some examples of doctors that might be on your list:

  • Optician
  • Dentist
  • Gynecologist
  • General doctor (for an annual check-up)

Include your own special health needs, for example, a podiatrist for your feet, a dermatologist if you have any worries about moles, etc.

Your list might include alternative practitioners, such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist.

If you haven’t visited a health professional for a long time, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. It’s better to visit now and address the problem head-on than to feel bad about yourself every time the thought pops into your head.  I went to see my chiropractor for the first time in 5 years and both him and the receptionist were very happy to see me. Yours will be too!

2. Facing Resistance Head On.

Often resistance to booking an appointment comes from a few reasons.

Not having the telephone number nearby.

This is an easy fix. Hunt the number down and write it next to the doctor’s name.

You don’t like your doctor 

If you have a doctor that you don’t enjoy visiting, whether it’s because the receptionist is rude or the doctor’s style doesn’t resonate with you, it’s time to find a new one. Ask friends, family or coworkers for recommendations. Or, if you have one doctor or health professional you like, ask them for a recommendation.

3. Making Time

Appointments do take time away from your usual daily activities. Before making the call, look at your calendar and decide what days or time of day is best for you, such as lunchtime or right after work. It’s probably not a good idea to see everyone in one week – you will be worn out! However, you could make a personal goal to see one doctor a week until you have seen everyone.

4. Pick Up The Phone!

Now it is time to phone. Schedule 30 minutes when you can phone each number on your list. If you hate using the phone, the first call will be the worst. However, once you have made the first call, you will feel elation/relief and the next will be much easier.

5. Write Down the Time and Date

Write down the time and date of your appointment into your calendar so you don’t forget it.

6. Go Prepared

Once you have your appointments scheduled, start to jot down the questions you want to ask each doctor. This way you don’t have to rely on your memory when you are face-to-face with your doctor.

7.  Entertainment

Take something with you that is fun to do in the waiting room.  A book to read or a sudoku puzzle, whatever is fun for you. Waiting times can be long, so have something interesting and compelling to ward off boredom (which is agony when you have ADHD).

8. Follow up

After your appointment, there is often some follow up action, perhaps another appointment in a month or going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Whatever the follow up action is, do it right away.

9. Book Now

If at all possible book your next appointment. For example, if your next check-up is in 6 or 12 months, book it before you leave the doctor’s office. This prevents long delays between appointments.

10. Keep Your Receipts

Keep your receipts safe! You might be able to claim your visit on your health insurance or include them in your taxes.

Great job! You are all set for another year!!!

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.

ADHD and Caffeine

ADHD and CaffeineIs it ok to drink caffeine when you have ADHD?

Caffeine is a stimulant, but unlike other stimulants, such as nicotine, cocaine and prescribed meds (including ADHD medication) is widely used and socially accepted.

Caffeine, whether it’s in coffee, tea, chocolate, Coca-Cola or energy drinks, like Red Bull, all make you feel more alert, happy and energetic. This is because it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and you feel its effects in your body and brain.

Some people feel more comfortable treating their ADHD with caffeine than taking ADHD meds (but there are more cons than pros to this) and others drink caffeine to increase the effectiveness of their meds. However, most people enjoy caffeine and are wondering how much is too much…if this is you, keep reading!

There are some positive things about consuming moderate amount of caffeine when you have ADHD:

1) Helps focus and problem solving.

2) Gives you an emotional pick-me-up (thanks to the increase in dopamine production)

3) Gives you a boost of physical energy

4) Reduces sleepiness…which is so useful in the morning, if you struggle to wake up

All these benefits are great, but they are only short lasting, which is why it’s easy and tempting to reach for more when the caffeine benefits start to wear off.

The problem with too much caffeine when you have ADHD is that:

1) Caffeine can decrease the effectiveness of ADHD medication

2) It can cause negative health effects, such as headaches and nausea, but more importantly, anxiety (which 50 percent of people with ADHD have).

3) It can deplete you mentally and physically. For example, many ADDers get into bad habits with eating, (forgetting to eat, or not organizing time to prepare food) so they use coffee and sugar to keep them going all day. This causes a quick burst of mental and physical energy, but then results in a crash. To get out of the crash, you reach for more caffeine and sugar. This leaves you jittery; mentally and emotionally and physically exhausted.

4) Caffeine interferes with sleep, which is important as a staggering 75 percent of people with ADHD have problems getting a good night sleep.

You don’t have to give up caffeine completely. However, because moderation is key, here are some painless ways to reduce your caffeine intake.

1) Track (with no judgement) how many caffeine drinks you have each day.

2) Notice what it is that prompts you to have one. For example: a pick me up in the afternoon, an excuse to go for a walk, a habit, or a need to focus on a hard mental task, etc.

3) Look at this information and see if there something you could do instead of drinking caffeine that would help. If you get an afternoon slump, perhaps replace your big lunch for a smaller meal and then have an afternoon snack. If you need to go for a walk, give yourself permission to just go for a walk rather needing a reason, such as picking up coffee.

4) Are there some times when a non-caffeinated drink would be just as good? For example, whenever I sit down to write, I have this ingrained habit of sitting down with a hot drink. However, I realized it doesn’t have to be tea; sometimes, a mug of hot water is just as good.

5) Drink more water; because caffeine is a diuretic and also, when we are fully hydrated, our bodies crave less caffeine.

If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of using caffeine to treat your ADHD, check this article out: http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/c/1443/142837/coffee-adhd-symptoms/

ADHD And The Magic of Gratitude

ADHD and the Magic of GratitudeLast week, I met a friend for breakfast. He radiated happiness, fun and energy. This wouldn’t be worth mentioning were in not for the fact that his happiness is a new thing. For about 2 years he wasn’t particularly enjoying life, nothing bad had happened, he was healthy, happily married, a good job, a nice home. However, he was bored with life, he was going through the motions, without enjoying it.

Of course, I wanted to know what had changed. Everything seemed to be the same, same job, etc. However, for the last 6 months he has been writing down 5 things he is grateful for every day. The results are life changing.

By a happy coincidence, I have just finished reading the book ‘The Magic’ by Rhonda Byrne. She explains how practicing gratitude for what is in your life is transformational, both in terms of how happy you feel, and in attracting what you do want in your life.

ADDers are very hard on themselves. They are critical of themselves, their achievements, and how successful their life is or isn’t. They don’t acknowledge what they have done in the past and what is going well now. While taking a few minutes each day to feel grateful might seem very a simplistic solution, practicing gratitude helps with those traits. It makes you realize what is going well right now,as well as what has gone right in the past, too. It means you can own your achievements and feel good about yourself.

Why don’t you take a few minutes right now and think what you do have to be grateful for? This might sound cliché, but when you do this, you realize just how wonderful your life is. It turns a black mood into a happy one, and lifts your energy so you can tackle any problem that comes up.

Why Happiness = Success When You Have ADHD

ADDers are very hard on themselves. They are always feeling ‘less than’. Rather than acknowledge what they did today and feel good about it, they focus on the long list of what they haven’t done yet. However, if you think like that, not only does it affect your self-esteem and confidence, it also lowers your energy and makes you miserable and sad.

Instead, if you allow yourself to feel pride in what you HAVE done, today, this week, month, year, this lifetime, then you will feel energized happy and can get more ‘done’ (Of course there is lots more to life than what you accomplish, but that’s another article!)

While I knew this to be true, I only had anecdotal evidence, based on myself and clients. That all changed when a client sent me this video, because it reminded her of the work we had been doing together.

http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html

Shawn Anchor says we need to reverse the formula for happiness and success. The current formula is that most people live by is ‘the harder I work the more successful I will be and the more successful I am the happier I will be.’

BUT, this model is flawed, because every time we have a success we change the goal post.

You have good grades, but now you have to get better grades. You have a good job, now you have to get a better job. “If happiness is on the opposite side of success your brain will never get there. We have pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon and that is because we have to be successful and then we will be happy’.

In the video, Shawn explains that our brains work in the opposite order of society’s success formula.

For example, if you are feeling happy and positive in the present, then the performance of your brain improves, your intelligence, energy and creativity are all increased.

AND it gets better… when your brain is in a positive gear, it is 31% more productive, 37% better in sales and doctors are 19% faster at making an accurate and quick diagnoses.

So, make yourself a cup of tea, and relax because you are in for a treat. As well as being informative and wise, Shawn Anchor is a very funny presenter.