I am a creature of habit. I like predictability, security, a place for everything and everything in its place. Except…every once in a while there is a part of me that wakes up and roars like a lion. It longs for adventure, new learning and growth and only a new challenge will quiet it. During those times in my life, I have moved to different parts of the world, changed jobs and enrolled in master’s programs and coach training schools. Thank goodness my hungry lion also includes a character trait that is a necessary ingredient for making successful change: Courage.
Recently, this need for adventure, change, and growth showed up in my life as a move to Seattle, Washington and the opening of my own ADHD Coach Training Program – the International ADHD Coach Training Center (IACTCenter). If you are going through some changes in your own life or if you hear the call for adventure and challenge, here are five tips that will help make these transitions end in positive outcomes:
- Don’t go it alone. This is perhaps one of the most important tips I could give you. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to know about the changes you’re making in your life. Sometimes close family may not fit the bill because they are equally affected by this change and may have their own opinions and adjustments to make. Know who’s in your inner circle and tell those people who will support you no matter what. The people who won’t question your decisions, but instead ask how they can support you in this move.
- Have a Self Care Plan. In order to reach new destinations, you have to leave the security of what is known and comfortable. But you don’t have to race out into the unknown. Make sure you have a plan of where you can find safety and support in case you need it. Change is scary and can challenge that courage and even the strongest resolve. A Self Care Plan doesn’t mean you turn tail and stop your adventure or give up on the challenge when things get tough. Instead, it means that you plan on what to do when you need a break to get refreshed, and restore your determination on your way to the new place.
- Be prepared. Making the move to Seattle from Sacramento required that I spend some time planning out what I would need in order to keep my work and relationships running smoothly in the middle of all this change. It required that I research into different phone alternatives, wifi options and airport access. I needed to be sure my living space had an office that provided confidentiality for my clients and at the same time nourished my soul. It’s important to look ahead and plan so you have what you need to make the change a success.
- Refer to your core values. Before making any big change, be sure that where you are headed is going to continue to honor your core values. During times when I felt a deep need to make changes in my life, it was usually reflecting a core value that I had been ignoring for too long (like growth and learning).
It’s important to know that core values can often seem to be in direct contrast to one another. This is how I know God has a sense of humor. In this case, my values of adventure, travel, growth and change seemed in direct contrast to my value of security and relationships. The fact is, I am taking huge risks by making some of these changes. So while I am rewarding some of my values (like excitement and adventure), I also have to be aware of how other values (security and relationships) are threatened so I can pay attention to them moving forward.
- Give it time. As exciting as it is to head out into this new chapter of my life, living in a new part of the world, the possibility of new relationships and moving into my passion for training ADHD Coaches, I will admit to waking up the first morning scared to death and ready to pack everything back up and return to my previous predictable life. I am grateful that a close friend told me, “Give it time. Take it one day at a time and see how you are one week from now. And then one month from now. And then six months from now.” And that is what I have been doing. Change can happen quickly, like waking up the next morning in a totally different bed and not knowing which way to turn the faucet on for the hot water. But when you give it time, you may realize one morning you know exactly where the cups are for your morning coffee and somehow, in that short period of time you have gone from making a pot of coffee to being a Keurig aficionado!
This is the time of year when people decide to make significant last minute changes in order to accomplish certain goals by the end of the year. If your lion is roaring to life and you’re considering making some changes that might feel a bit overwhelming, I would love to talk to you about how coaching can help.
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Mindfulness is a hot topic everywhere … and for everyone, it seems! Mindfulness has been shown to help with pain, stress, depression, and more! And, did you know that research shows that mindfulness is also beneficial for managing ADHD?
What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of your present moment sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Mindfulness can be as simple as pausing to pay close attention for a moment to what you are sensing, thinking and feeling. People experienced with mindfulness find it can help with ADHD symptoms, emotional reactivity, and stress management. The ability to be mindful can be improved with training and practice.
Here’s a quick summary of three research studies that examined mindfulness training for ADHD – take a look to see the benefits they discovered.
The research findings are followed by some mindfulness tips and resources you can use today!
A 2008 study found teens and adults trained in mindfulness experienced decreased ADHD symptoms, anxiety and depression and improved performance on tests of attention, memory and reasoning (Zylowska et al., 2008).
A 2013 found a strong effect of mindfulness training on ADHD symptom reduction as well as improvement in functional impairment in a majority of training participants. This study also examined and found improvements in self and clinician reported EF (executive functioning) symptoms and self-reported emotional regulation (Mitchell et al., 2013).
A 2014 study found benefits for approximately 30% of mindfulness trainees. As an interesting side-note, greater improvement in symptoms occurred in individuals treated with methylphenidate (stimulant) (Edel et al., 2014).
Other research has examined mindfulness training for young people with ADHD and learning disabilities, finding benefits as well.
Research clearly demonstrates benefits of mindfulness training for management of ADHD symptoms! So what are you waiting for?
WHAT CAN I DO?
1) Here’s a quick exercise you can use any time to increase your mindful awareness in the moment. It’s called the STOP practice and is very useful whenever you might find your mind spinning or when you are feeling a bit out of control. It can also be used just to check-in to see if you are on track with your plans.
S – Stop whatever you are doing for a moment
T – Take a breath, center yourself
O – Observe yourself in the present moment: notice what you are sensing (sounds, sights, your posture), thinking, and feeling
P – Proceed with choice – either continue what you were doing, or make a decision to proceed with something else that is higher priority
Try it! Set an alarm for yourself and do the STOP practice when it rings. What is it like for you?
2) For a number of free mindfulness meditations you can try, check out the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center’s website – some meditations take as little as three minutes to listen to. Select one you like and try it daily for a week. What do you notice?
3) Interested in mindfulness training for yourself or anyone you know? Information about a nine- session tele-class I offer on mindfulness and ADHD can be found here: Mindfulness for ADHD Sign up now to be notified of the next class series and develop your own ability to use mindfulness strategies to manage your ADHD!
4) Want to learn more? Here are some other blog posts you can read on mindfulness and ADHD:
ADHD & Life Coach
Edel, M-A., Holter, T., Wassink, K, & Juckel, G. (10/9/14). A comparison of mindfulness-based group training and skills group training in adults with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders (published online before print).
Mitchell, J.T., McIntyre, E.M. English, J.S. et al. (12/4/13). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotional dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders (published online before print).
Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D.L., Yang, M. H., at al. (2008) Mindfulness meditation in Adults and adolescents with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 237-246.
Each year, we take our son to have a vision examination. Every year, for the past three years, he has needed a change of lenses. His vision has changed, and the glasses just weren’t working for him anymore. Parents of children with ADHD and trauma often feel as though the “traditional parenting lens” they use to see their child’s behavior is not working. They wonder what they are doing wrong and ask the question: Can there be any way to help our child manage his outbursts? The good news is: YES! But it starts with understanding the assumptions underlying traditional parenting techniques and grasping onto a new lens through which we can view our child’s behavior.
1. Kids do well when they can.
Traditional parenting techniques usually divide into two categories: rewards and consequences. But underlying rewards and consequences is an assumption about our child’s behavior: Kids do well when they want to. If we operate with that assumption, then we believe that finding the right motivator is the key to behavior. But parents of ADHD and trauma kiddos know that our kids want to do well. And honestly, who wouldn’t? So what’s the alternative lens through which we can view our kid’s behavior? It’s the belief that kids do well when they can. When we view our child’s maladaptive behavior through this lens, the question is no longer “Why is he/she being so manipulative/bratty/bull-headed/etc.” Instead it changes to “What is preventing my child from doing well?” To better understand that, we need to understand how the brain works.
2. Keep the Brain in Mind
When a person feels threatened or stressed, the amygdala in the brain begins to produce cortisol. This is the fight/flight/freeze hormone in our brain. For kids with ADHD, the sensitivity to threat or stress can be heightened. So what seems to us as not a big deal may very well be a big deal to them. This happens particularly when the child has an unmet need (hunger, feeling safe, feeling loved, etc.) or a lagging skill (inflexible thinking, understanding social cues, etc.). Because of this stress, cortisol is released, and it blocks access to the thinking part of our brain called the frontal lobe. This is where cause and effect resides. So just about the time you’re disciplining your child and saying, “Because you screamed at me you’re in time out,” your child’s brain cannot receive that input, and the teaching is lost on the child. So, what do we do in the meantime?
3. Learn to calm yourself and your child, not correct.
When your child is in a meltdown is not the time to try and teach the child or correct the child’s behavior. The child is in a dysregulated state, and the goal is to help the child get regulated.
Ways to do this include:
- Deep breathing
- Speaking slowly
- Naming and validating the emotions your child may be feeling (“I would be angry too right now.”)
- Not isolating the child but staying with them.
- When your child is calm, create a “calming plan” and offer it when meltdowns happen.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it will begin to help you create a plan to help you remain calm in the midst of the storm.
When our children are in the middle of a meltdown, it is normal to let our emotions take over too. We have to choose to think and respond, rather than just feel and react. Remember, your kid wants to do well, but sometimes their brain won’t let them. It’s our job to help them identify what’s preventing them from doing well and work through it so they can. When our traditional “lenses” aren’t working, it’s time for new ones.
Jared and DeAnn Jennette started Embrace Parent Coaching to help parents of adopted children or other children with trauma and a diagnosis of ADHD, SPD, or other
“alphabet soup” diagnoses. For more information and coaching on “changing your lenses,” contact them at Embraceparentcoaching.com