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The beginning of quarantine for me felt like an unexpected plunge on a roller coaster. Everything was changing so rapidly, you had no idea what was around the next bend, and the experience reminded all of us of the previous similarly traumatic experiences we have had. How could all of this be good for people with ADHD?
- We are creative problem solvers. I can’t tell you how often I hear the most innovative ideas fly out of ADHD people. The trick tends to be writing those things down and doing something with them. At the start of the pandemic, I had around 15 different ideas to try and help the business that were incredibly creative. The challenge was keeping on track with them and putting the best ones into action. It can help ADHD people to have planners as partners in their endeavors.
- We like variety – This might mean not working in the same spot each day or each week. Pay attention to what feels right. Think about what routines help you to be the most effective.
- Getting more sleep – many of us have been able to do away with alarm clocks or, at the very least, get more sleep. Sleep is essential for anyone but especially those with ADHD. Tests on people who slept less than six hours a night for a week revealed substantial changes in the activity of genes that govern the immune system, metabolism, sleep and wake cycles, and the body’s response to stress, suggesting that poor sleep could have a broad impact on long-term wellbeing. Lack of sleep has effects over time too. The changes, which affected more than 700 genes, may shed light on the biological mechanisms that raise the risk of a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress, and depression, in people who get too little sleep.
- More time for physical activity – When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brains. It also promotes neurogenesis, which is useful for fighting depression naturally. For some, this might mean taking a call while walking. For others, this might mean signing up for a new online workout routine. I like running, the Beachbody On Demand workouts (equipment suggestions) and Mark Lauren’s bodyweight functional strength training. Do whatever makes sense for you and maybe even pull in an accountability partner where you do the same routine and check-in with each other to stay on track. I find it helps print out the routine of a program I am doing, map out the days it fits into, and mark off what I have done and my progress. I keep the results in binders, so it stays organized and keeps me on track.
- No end to the workday – it helps to have the workday end at a particular time, or you burn out. What can help you to transition from work to home?
- Competing demands for parents – Parents with kids at home genuinely have the most challenging job right now. Keeping their kids on task, making snacks, addressing their needs, while trying to work from home, take care of themselves, household chores, and have a relationship with their partner… it’s a tall order. It helps to think about the book cheaper by the dozen and look for ways for the whole family to divide tasks. Look for ways to sneak in date nights. What other things could you bring in for support (housekeeper, a neighbors kid to keep your kids on task, form an education pod, post a physical chores list with stars)?
- There are many challenges during this time but make a list of your top 3 to control and brainstorm ways to overcome them.
- Too many things to do. This is a challenge for everyone right now but use to do lists and each day, make a new one that’s focused on what you can get done that day. You may also get a surprising amount of joy out of looking at your completed items. :)
- Cluttered brain. Take time out from your day for a short walk to clear your head, lay down for a 20 minute power nap, short simple yoga, or a quick meditation. It can help you to recharge and come back to your day with focus and clarity.
- WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS… and weeks. It’s not uncommon to have periods where you aren’t productive in the ways you would hope. It is not a bad thing and it might help you to recharge or it might be teaching you something that you need to change. Slow down enough to notice those themes.