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!!!

Celebrate Every Achievement

Celebrate Every AchievementIn her book My Stroke of Insight, the author and Harvard brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor documents her remarkable story. At the age of 37 years old, she suffered a stroke and then spent the next eight years making a full recovery. This involved learning to do the basics such as sit up in bed alone again, walk, talk, feed herself, drive, recall her memories, etc. The book is inspirational and also has some amazing pearls of wisdom. One of these pearls is how important it was for her to celebrate EVERY achievement no matter what the size. I found this attitude a wonderful one and would love all adults with ADHD to adopt too. She didn’t say, “Oh, you can sit up on your own now, big deal, you could do that when you were one years old.” That would have been discouraging after all her mental and physical effort it had taken. It would have also zapped her motivation to move on to the next step of her recovery.

I notice how easy it is for adults with ADHD to both minimize their achievements – “Well, anyone could have done it.” – and to focus on what they haven’t, didn’t, couldn’t do, rather than on what they DID do. If you made a difficult phone call or a big effort to arrive to a meeting on time, congratulate yourself and say, “Great job!” Allow yourself to bask in the warmth of this success for a minute before moving on to the next task. This is a much more effective method to encourage future successes than saying, “Well, I should be able to pick up the phone,” or “everyone else arrived on time.” This self-talk devalues your achievements and efforts and de-motivates you for future successes.

As well as positive verbal encouragement, also give yourself physical rewards. Celebrating wins, or victories, no matter how small, also does wonders for your mental well-being. Just like a small child or pet, adults love to be acknowledged for their achievements, and there is no better person to recognize your achievements than you.

When I use the term “reward,” thoughts automatically go towards something naughty. Like food that is bad for you, or alcohol. However, there are many ways to reward yourself that are fun, enjoyable and healthy. A bath after you have worked out at the gym feels amazing, curling up in bed with clean sheets after a physically demanding day. Often what feels like a reward is in contrast to the activity you have been doing.

The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the reward. Graduating with a degree would quantify a BIG celebration, to acknowledge the big accomplishment. However, you should also reward yourself for every assignment you hand in on time and ever exam you sat on at a smaller level.

Positive self-talk will change your life! Not only will it make you feel good in the moment, it will also lift your self-esteem over time to new heights. That, in combination with a physical treat, makes pushing the mental or physical pain barrier even sweeter!

Actions

  1. Every time you do something that is a bit tricky, give yourself lots of praise.
  2. As well as verbal praise, give yourself a physical reward too.
  3. Match the size of the reward with the achievement.
  4. Think ahead of time a few of your favorite healthy treats you would like to give yourself as a reward.
  5. Notice how much more fun life is!

Exercise and ADHD

Exercise and ADHDTo the average adult with ADHD exercise takes a back seat to almost all other activities. Work, family and friends, errands, sleep and even housework! These activities are important, however so is exercise. Exercise not only helps the longevity of your body, but it helps reduce some of the negative effects of ADHD too. For example, exercise improves your attention, mental focus, memory, mental stamina and allows you to expend pent up energy. Dr Hallowells says  “Exercise stimulates epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, like meds. So exercising is like taking meds for ADHD in a holistic, natural way”.

So what can you do to make sure exercise is part of your daily life? As well as choosing a form of exercise that is fun for you and one that is convenient, a powerful way is to look to those people who you admire and are inspired by. Perhaps your favourite sports personality or someone who you know personally. There is one particular example of someone we all know who I find very inspiring and that is Barack Obama.

On the 4th of November 2008, the eyes of the world were on America and its election day. Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American president. His political views, beliefs and sincerity resonated with millions worldwide. It was a huge day for him and his young family. Over two years of hard work on the campaign trail culminated on this day. We can only imagine the intense emotions he must have felt. That evening when the results were official, he stood in front of 125,000 people in Chicago and gave a speech that brought people to tears and gave people goose bumps all around the world. I am guessing he didn’t get much sleep that night.

Do you know what Barack did around 6 am the morning of the 5th of November? After this momentous day? He went to the gym. Then he put on a suit and started his day.

Now if anyone could excuse themselves from a visit to the gym that day, it would have been Barack Obama. Some thoughts that might have popped into his mind: I am too tired, too busy, I have just been voted the next president of the United States! Even if those excuses did come to his mind, he went to the gym anyway.

What can you do to make sure you exercise regularly?

  1. Make exercise part of your daily routine so that it would be just as hard not to exercise as not brush your teeth at night.
  2. Think of who inspires you to exercise and use them as a motivation to get you moving.
  3. Give yourself a healthy reward after you exercise.
  4. Next time an excuse pops into your head about not exercising, think of Barack.
  5. Notice and enjoy the benefits that exercise has on your ADHD.