How Do You Spend Your ADHD Micro-Minutes?

ADHD Strategies    July 1, 2019

ADHD and timeIf you are like most people with ADHD and time awareness challenges, you probably feel like you never have enough time.

You use planners, organizers, lists, and diaries to keep track of and map out your “to-dos” so you can remember what to do and get stuff done. More than likely you’ve learned how to block out the main events. The meeting or appointment here, deadline there…so your calendar is filled with blocks of color and your day is full leaving that sense of not having enough time for anything else.

But what about the time in between those big events? The forgotten minutes before and after the scheduled stuff? Just because you don’t count those minutes or haven’t noticed them, it doesn’t mean they don’t matter or exist.

Let me tell you a secret…there is actual usable time between doing what you are doing and the next thing on your “to do” list.

To most, these micro-minutes don’t count and can be forgotten, taken for granted and wasted. However, that “in between” time actually can count and using it to accomplish short small tasks might make all the difference between completing your to do list and feeling unproductive.

What you do or how you spend those micro-moments determines as much to the outcome of your day as what you do or plan to do during your ‘scheduled’ hours. This is because the small tasks we complete can add up and make a huge difference. Spent purposefully they can create a much bigger impact than we can imagine.

For instance, last January I set out to improve my health. My goal was to start exercising 10 minutes a day, walking around my neighborhood. Definitely a micro bit of time compared to most people’s one hour or two hour workout routines. Hey…better something than nothing, right? At the time it seemed insignificant. Still, I tracked those micro bits of time and recently discovered that I’ve exercised over 100 hours, walked nearly 250 miles, burned approximately 25,000 calories and lost over 40 lbs!

Those little micro bits of time added up!

Wondering if these micro-moments really matter? Recently I was reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Clear emphasizes reaching our goals by focusing on making small improvements with small habit changes. He calls this the 1% improvement per day habit. And even though the change can seem negligible at first, these small efforts have the potential to produce big results.

For instance, what if you spent 10 micro-minutes each day practicing mindfulness? At the end of the year you’d have experienced about 182 more hours of calm. A huge accomplishment for all of us with busy ADHD brains.

Or what about spending 10 minutes learning something new? Read an article on ADHD, read a chapter, or listen to an audiobook. (The audiobook I am currently listening to is “Why We Sleep” by Mathew Walker. I highly recommend it!) Apparently, spending micro-minutes every day learning new things is something successful people do on a regular basis. I can hope, right?!

Or, maybe take those 10 micro-minutes at the beginning or end of each day to think of three things that brought you joy, filled your soul, felt like a magical moment or made you happy that day. Some of my favorites include seeing the wagging tails of happy dogs on my walks. Brilliant western sunsets in the evening. Crawling between freshly washed sheets at the end of the day. The sound of the water fountain outside my front door. Using these micro-bits of time in this way you will find more enjoyment and magic in your day and can start to re-create those moments to lift your spirits. And you will have found 1,095 things that fill your soul each year!

And, just in case you are wondering…I am not suggesting that we account for being productive every single moment of every single day. Absolutely not! I’m a huge fan of using my micro-minutes for leisure time. In fact, being purposeful about my micro-minutes helps remind me of why leisure time — time to truly do whatever I want—is so important, and so often unattainable, when I am misusing time the rest of my day.

So, feel free to spend your micro-minutes doing absolutely nothing. It is imperative for your mental and emotional health that you do so. Below I’ve listed some to get you started on micro leisure minutes:

Take a break. Sometimes the best learning happens when we aren’t learning at all.

Breathe deeply. The health benefits of a good deep breath include getting vital oxygen and blood circulating throughout our body.

Wash your hands with a fresh smelling soap and add a soothing hand lotion.

Get bored. Turns out being bored actually boosts your creative juices. Let your mind wander and see where it takes you. (Timer encouraged on this one.)

Mass delete emails from your inbox and see if you don’t feel empowered!

Think about someone you love. It seems that thinking of someone we love has the same emotional and mental benefits as actually being with him or her.

Eat your favorite food, slowly.

Call and catch up with an old friend.

When you start noticing those micro ADHD moments and begin being purposeful about how you want to spend them, you may start realizing that you have more time than you think you do to accomplish those tasks that are important to you. These small but consistent amounts of micro-minute ADHD time add up. Spent purposefully they can help you make progress, accomplish something big and add to the quality of your life.

How do you want to spend your micro minutes today???? Let me know by entering your comments below!

9 Biggest Mistakes People Make Having an ADHD Brain

ADHD Awareness    May 31, 2019

ADHD brainI know I’m preaching to the choir when I say your ADHD brain is very important. Your brain controls your entire life, your thinking, your emotions, and behavior. It’s the most important organ in your body…and the one science knows the least about.

So, how much do you think about it…your ADHD brain?

And if you do think about your ADHD brain, don’t you want to know how to take care of your one and only amazing ADHD brain?  Or at least what not to do?

If so, following is my list of the biggest mistakes people make in having an ADHD brain. Just so you know what not to do.

1. Not protecting it

If you want to enjoy your own or a loved one’s ADHD brain for as long as possible you must protect it. Brains are fragile and unfortunately a little damage goes a long way. Even though it’s not always possible to prevent accidents, there are some things you can do right now that will protect your brain just in case.

  • Always wear your seat belt and make sure other’s are wearing theirs.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Don’t drive drowsy. Sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. For instance, being awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive like you have a blood alcohol level of .05 (for reference, .08 is considered drunk).
  • Don’t text or use a cell phone while driving. Cell phones are the number one source of driver distraction. Drivers who talk on cell phones or text while driving are four times as likely to get into a car crash.
  • Always wear a helmet when:
    • riding a bike, motorcycle or skateboard
    • skiing, snowboarding or using inline skates
    • playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing
    • playing baseball or softball

2. Poisoning it

Despite what the media says, alcohol is NOT a health food!  Most of us know that alcohol, nicotine, excessive caffeine, environmental pollutants, and manufacturing chemicals, are not good for our ADHD brains.  They reduce brain blood flow which interferes with our ability to think. However, there are other toxins to your ADHD brain you might not have ever considered trying to eliminate. Here are some additional  “poisons” to consider:

  • Noise pollution

Noise pollution, including high-pitched whining noises, can come from so many sources. Examples include the hum from things like fluorescent lights, air conditioning, heating units, appliances, or even a clock.  And although we cannot always detect these waves of sound with our ears our bodies are capable of sensing them. This is why you feel so at peace when you completely unplug and are in nature and the wilderness.

  • Artificial sweeteners

I’ll admit, for years I poured those pink, blue and yellow packets into my coffee. But now I know that fake sweeteners are really bad for our ADHD brains. So instead, natural honey has become my go to when I want a dash of sweetness.

  • Refined sugar

Our bodies have evolved to handle other than in very minute doses in fruit or honey forms. Although we now know that sugar does not cause ADHD, it is clear it is not good for optimal performance of the ADHD brain. Consuming refined or processed sugars have been linked to bad memory, poor cognitive performance, decreases in brain growth hormone, inflammation and depression.

3. Low fat diets

The brain is at least 60% fat and it’s one hundred billion nerve cells are lined with essential fatty acids that support and enhance your brain power. Even though the brain takes up only about 2-5% of human body weight it uses up to 30% of our caloric intake. It just happens that fats, an essential macronutrient, have just the kind of feul the brain needs to stay healthy. Just remember that all fats are not equal. Good fats, saturated fats and fatty acids, are idea and need to come from our diet.

4. No clear goals to help the brain achieve

Setting goals and working to achieve them provides us motivation and a sense of accomplishment. What do goals and achieving them do for our ADHD brains. It is rewarded with an increase of dopamine. When we want something and achieve it—a promotion, an ice cream cone, a hug from a loved one, a completed to do list—our brain releases dopamine. Setting small goals and then accomplishing them is a way you can use your dopamine and feel more motivated. For instance, your brain may receive a surge of dopamine if you promise yourself that you’ll clean out the garage, and then you do. This is why so many people with ADHD like to-do lists: The satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked to the release of dopamine. What goals do you want to accomplish?

5. Too little human interaction

Humans are hard wired for social interaction.  Meaningful relationships nourish and engage our brain. Activities that interfere with communication, relationships, and social interactions, like screens or technology, make us…well…less human. Instead, our ADHD brain thrives on interacting with other people and engaged in activities such as exploring, playing, creativity and being in nature.

6. No new learning

Your brain is like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets! Your ADHD brain thrives on new challenges, adventures, experiences, and learning. Learning stimulates neuron growth in the brain. The more you practice a new skill the thicker the myelin in your brains becomes, which means you learn faster and better. What is something new you can learn?

7. Not moving your body

Your mind and body are connected. Moving or exercising helps your ADHD brain. It boosts balance, motivation, energy, motor function, and thinking. It increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which then increases our physical health, mental and emotional well-being.

Research has shown that even a single 20-minute bout of moderate-intensity exercise improved ADHD symptoms. Research has also shown that people who exercise have greater brain volume in areas associated with reasoning and executive function. Just imagine what doing it more than only 20 minutes could achieve! How can you easily add 20 minutes of movement to your day?

8. Not getting enough sleep

If it weren’t important, we wouldn’t keep doing it. During sleep our body and brain are restored.  Our muscles are repaired, immune cells are free to race around our bodies protecting us, hormones are balanced and the brain sorts the emotions memories of our day. There is still a lot that we don’t know about the potential benefits of sleep, but one thing is for sure: we can’t survive without it. And the closer we get to the optimal amount of sleep, eight hours for adults and more for kids and teens, the healthier our ADHD brains are. What can you do tonight to your needed 8 hours of sleep?

9. Believing every negative thought you have

Ghoul thinking…those sneaky, persistent, and pervasive automatic negative thoughts that pop up in your brain and ruin the rest of your day. Left unmanaged, they take over your thinking and add further injury by causing stress hormones to circulate through your body. When that happens it lowers your brain and thinking capacity, makes you gain weight and puts you at greater risk for cognitive challenges as you age.

You were born with an amazing, one of a kind ADHD brain.  Taking care of it is your job.  One that will reward you every day and long into your future.

Have something you would like to add to this list of what not to do in order to take care of your ADHD brain?  I’d love to hear it…comment below.

 

What 10,000 Steps and ADHD Have in Common

ADHD Awareness    April 30, 2019

ADHD myths

If you’ve been following my newsletter and blogs, you know that I have stepped up (pun intended) my exercise in the last few months. So, you can understand when I say that finding out that the 10,000-step goal was a myth, just an arbitrary number, sort of burst my exercise enthusiasm bubble.

Whether you’re new to walking or looking for a way to improve your health you’ve likely heard the advice to aim for 10,000 steps a day. For most people, this equals roughly 5 miles, depending on things like height and walking gait, etc. I will admit I was working toward this goal myself. Yet, it turns out 10,000 steps isn’t the Holy Grail for healthy walking.

So how did the 10,000 steps number come to be? Interestingly, the number can actually be traced back to a marketing promotion for a pedometer that was released in Japan in the 1960s. That was over 50 years ago! Since then, other businesses have jumped on the 10,000 steps bandwagon, used this random number…and the 10,000 steps movement was born.

It occurs to me that the myths about ADHD that have been going on for decades are a lot like the 10,000 steps myth. In fact many of them originated about the same time in history. Myths and misconceptions about ADHD that science, time and experience have proven wrong over and over again. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence random, unsubstantiated rumors continue to be believed.

Here are some of the myths about ADHD that are not accurate, along with the accompanying fact:

Myth: ADHD does not exist at all. It was made up by psychiatrists, drug companies, psychologists, and the media, to create more business.

Fact: Scientific studies spanning 100 years have consistently described a group of individuals who struggle with concentration, impulse control, and in some cases, hyperactivity. The name for these challenges has changed over the years. Currently, the appropriate medical term is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This condition has been confirmed as a disability by the legal, educational, and medical systems.

Myth: The medication to treat ADHD is the same as cocaine or meth and is addictive.

Fact: Medically prescribed medications used to treat ADHD are chemically different from cocaine and methamphetamine. Saying they are the same is like saying that oxygen and water are the same because they both contain the molecule oxygen. In fact most people diagnosed with ADHD struggle to remember to take their medication. A behavior exactly the opposite of someone addicted. Longitudinal studies have shown that individuals with ADHD when properly diagnosed and treated with stimulant medication such as Ritalin or Adderall actually have a lower risk of addiction in adulthood.

Myth: ADHD is just an excuse to not be responsible.

Fact: ADHD is a neurobiological disorder resulting in the inefficient communication of the neurotransmitters in the brain. One of the primary symptoms of someone with ADHD is of being easily distracted. Although it can look to someone else as if they don’t care or are irresponsible, the struggle to follow through is due to the significant distractibility characteristic of ADHD.

Myth: ADHD is a result of bad parenting.

Fact: The symptoms of ADHD are due to a biological-based miscommunication of the neurotransmitters in the frontal lobe of the brain. Just as you can’t improve someone’s vision, diabetes or asthma with discipline, neither can you punish a child with ADHD and correct the neurobiological basis of the disorder.

Myth: ADHD is something made up by Big Pharm to make money.

Fact: Pharmaceutical companies are businesses and as such aim to sustain a profit. However, there is smaller financial gain in the manufacturing of treatment of medications for ADHD compared to disorders such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Also, there have only been a handful of new pharmacological treatments for ADHD on the market in the last 70 years. If there were money to be made in the treatment of ADHD, Big Pharm would certainly be churning out options more prolifically. Compare this to the huge growth in the pharmaceuticals used to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.

Myth: The diagnosis of ADHD isn’t scientific.

Fact: We are fortunate to live at a time when science has advanced to the point of being able to see into the fluids of our body to diagnose such things as diabetes, or view inside our body to detect cancer. It can therefore make sense to assume that unless there is a specific physical medical test for ADHD, it isn’t real. Yet, what we forget is that at one time those methods of detection and diagnosis were not always possible either. Even though there currently is no single physical medical test for diagnosing ADHD, it is recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by medical, psychological, and educational organizations worldwide. Until science advances further, disorders like ADHD are still best diagnosed by a qualified professional skilled at differentiating symptoms based on a person’s history and current challenges. This method of diagnosing is still the gold standard used in the diagnosis of ADHD.

Myth: You can’t have ADHD if you are an adult.

Fact: 50-70% of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to struggle with symptoms and challenges consistent with ADHD into adulthood. Individuals are diagnosed at different ages due to a combination of their specific challenges, environmental support, and compensating strengths. ADHD is not a disorder that discriminates based on age. A diagnosis of ADHD is possible at any age as long as the person meets the diagnostic criteria.

By learning more about ADHD, you can help increase the truth, understanding, and awareness worldwide. What is one of the ADHD myths you have heard and what do you know is the truth? Let me know by responding in the comment section below.

Oh…and about those 10,000 steps.  Experts recommend that you track the amount of time you are active rather than the number of steps. The goal? 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. For me that is good news although I will admit it may not stop me from asking for a Fitbit for Mother’s Day!