A question I frequently ask friends and clients alike is what’s stopping them from doing something. Overcoming obstacles with ADHD is talked about a lot, but how do you get past them without identifying them?
“I don’t want to” or “I don’t feel like it” is often overlooked because you judge yourself for it, and others judge you for it. Instead, I ask why they don’t. There’s a reason for it, and discounting those thoughts is clearly preventing you from doing it, so look into it. What is standing in your way? Look at each detail and identify what you can do to change the barrier. Accept that it’s there or you’ll keep bumping into it. Go through it, not around it. People with ADHD already have self-confidence issues and doubts about their competence; don’t add to it by pretending an obstacle doesn’t exist and trying to push through it without trying to make it easier.
If you need help dealing with your obstacles, reach out to Sound Health Counseling Solutions today!
Time away from work, school, and other daily responsibilities is often refreshing and good for clearing the mind. New sights are seen, new activities are participated in, entertainment is watched, and maybe recreational learning is done if that’s part of a hobby. Vacation is exciting, and is usually a mental reset. When a person has ADHD, though, the return to reality can be a bit….disorienting.
How Can I?
In daily life, a person is responsible for planning and organizing what they do and where they are going. On vacation, this might not be the case. So, when a person returns to reality, they’re tossed back into the chaos of planning and remembering- two things ADHD is known for disrupting. What can be done?
Review what daily and weekly life looks like.
Look at a schedule or checklist and see what you usually do.
Go over it piece by piece to bring yourself back into the swing of things without becoming overwhelmed.
As I write this blog, it’s my first day back to work after a week of vacation. I’m having to recall a lot of details, so I formed the very plan I suggested here, knowing that I won’t succeed if I bite off more than I can chew.
Needing More Help
If you try to return to daily life and struggle, Sound Health Counseling Solutions can help you reorient yourself and make future transitions smoother. Reach out today!
I’m being serious. Cleaning and organizing are not my favorite things to do. Given the difficulty from my executive dysfunction to plan, start, and remain motivated in these tasks, I’m prone to procrastination. When I finally overcome the struggle, interesting things happen.
Without effective medication, I have to be really bothered by my surroundings to change them. First, I pick up garbage, and if I have an extra hand, I might pick up something else that can be put away on my journey. Since I’m up and moving, the getting started piece is in motion. I might have uncovered something else that I can easily put away- or at least put in the area where it belongs (the system isn’t perfect).
Sometimes medication lets me choose, other times it chooses for me. If the medication chooses for me, I see a wall of equally important tasks and I want to do ALL OF IT. But I can’t, because I only have two arms, and I get stuck trying to figure out what to do. If I’m paralyzed with indecision, sometimes I create a list of everything I want to do (as specific as possible). I can’t move to act, but I can think to plan, so I take advantage of it. When my brain calms down, I can start doing things and feel great about it later. Fighting an ADHD brain is a lost battle- the key is adaptation. How can I do what I need to do? The answer is different for everyone.
Whether you struggle with motivation to get started or struggle with the direction to channel your motivation, Sound Health Counseling Solutions can help you figure out the techniques that work for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!
ADHD is tricky. There is a history of stigma attached to it with the idea that it’s a parenting issue or character flaw. Sure, there might be parenting practices that need to be refined, or there might be some character flaws in the person who has ADHD. It’s a complex web of cause and effect. There is no simple answer
What many people don’t know is that ADHD is hereditary. It’s also easily mistaken for anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and other disorders. Add to the mix that an individual can have all three of the conditions I just mentioned, and it’s no wonder people are so confused about it. There is evidence for genetics and environmental influence, prematurity and prenatal exposures, and significant head injury being causes of ADHD. Notice that sugar and food additives are not in that list.
What You Can Do?
If you are the loved one of someone with ADHD, work with them and set limits. ADHD cannot be cured, but it can and must be managed. Social skills can be learned, directing energy depending on the environment can be learned, a system of functioning can be learned. People with ADHD are often very intelligent- harness those smarts with them!
If you read all of this and feel daunted or just plain exhausted, reach out to Sound Health Counseling Solutions today. We create your treatment with you and help you through each step.
Your loved one comes home from school or college. They drop their belongings on the floor and gravitate to their toys, their electronics, or the kitchen- or both. Or maybe your loved one comes home from a day of work and they still gravitate to electronics or the kitchen. When it comes to ADHD, these habits can happen at any age, and they frustrate their neurotypical loved ones.
When I worked a job helping kids with ADHD manage their behaviors at home and in the community, it was a daily reminder for the kids to put their backpacks, shoes, and coats in the designated spots, take out their homework, start it and stay on task, and put their homework away before going to activities they enjoyed. As an adult, I come home on Fridays and often leave my lunchbox with my work bag, full of empty containers and a melted ice pack. I’ve written about setting routine before on this site and how it helps manage ADHD behaviors. If you did that, I’m proud of you! If you’re still frustrated, keep reading.
Someone with ADHD completing a routine of non-preferred tasks might be running on autopilot to get it done, they might do it to get what they want faster or avoid complaints from others, or they might be okay with doing it and be receiving guidance until it becomes a habit. The key is consistency.
Sure, those in the household are probably tired of repeating the reminders and steps every day, but this is important. Consistency teaches and reinforces expectations and guides behaviors. Verbal guidance of each task or a checklist with each task will alleviate ambiguity when it comes to what the person is responsible for, and maybe when they’re responsible for doing it. No matter their age, this strategy can be highly effective. Make sure the consequences are also clear- this aids with motivation.
If a child or teen knows the routine but isn’t doing it, verbal reminders of tasks help, but reminders of consequences do too. If that isn’t enough, consistently using those consequences is important. The delay of a desired activity, the loss of a desired activity. For adults, if they don’t do what they need to do, they don’t have clean items to eat with, cook with, or wear- this can include if someone else sticks to not picking up their slack for them. If someone else in the household does the laundry and the teen or other adult doesn’t bring their dirty laundry as requested, their laundry doesn’t get washed and they need to figure out the consequences that naturally follow.
What Else Can You Do?
If your loved one or household is struggling with these habits and you don’t know how to start or struggle to follow through, reach out to Sound Health Counseling Solutions today! We’ll work with you to create a personalized plan of action.
Struggling at home with tantrums, not getting things done, battles of attention at school…should you medicate your child? Instead of “should” or “should not”, let’s look at the situation asking if the benefits outweigh the risks. For some parents this is an easy decision; their child or teen can’t function without medication. For other parents, there’s a fear of stunting growth, negative behavioral changes, appetite and weight changes, or fearing future addiction. There is also the consideration of stimulants and non-stimulants and what will work.
Sometimes, medication is unavoidable. However, some changes made by medication can also be made gradually with counseling. Your child’s therapist can teach your child, and you, strategies to manage self-control and focus, big feelings, and social skills.
If you want to try counseling before medication, or in addition to medication, reach out to Sound Health Counseling Solutions today!
Summer is coming to an end. Your child has not dealt with homework and has not had to spend long periods of time sitting still. However, the school year is quickly approaching, and with it the deadlines, the rules, the expectations, and possibly social issues. What’s your game plan to help your child handle all of this?
Does your child have a support plan, such as a 504 or IEP? If so, be sure to review that plan so your child’s needs are met when school is in session. A change in school environment, your child’s development, or both, impact how effective the accommodations are, so keeping the plan up-to-date and adjusted now will clear the path for success.
Does your child have separation anxiety? Consider practicing to prepare for the transition back to school so that the process becomes familiar. Incorporate morning routines, if they were disrupted during the summer, and review expectations with your child. Oppositional behavior is often eased when expectations are set and consistently reinforced. Also, make communication a regular part of the day so that your child is comfortable sharing details with you.
It’s understandable if your child’s sleep routine changed during the summer. Begin to return to sleep routines so that your child is set up for adequate sleep. With screens being a temptation, have a plan for addressing this; it’s not unheard of for a child to sneak a screen into their room at night and stay up late.
Stressed about having a lot of things to do? Struggling with trying to remember everything? Burning out over doing both of those things while also thinking about how to do what needs to be done? I suggest listing things out. You have a list to fall back on in case you forget things, and it can help a lot with anxiety. You have a list to aid with processing a set of tasks, broken down into smaller amounts. If you have ADHD, you are probably rolling your eyes by now.
But What About…
The idea of having ADHD and maintaining a to-do list is complicated.
Remembering to create a list
Remembering the list exists
Remembering to use the list
Remembering to maintain the list
If you do not have ADHD, those tasks may seem straightforward and obvious. To someone with ADHD, the existence of the list is its own hurdle.
It’s Not That Simple
The next set of hurdles to overcome:
Paper list or digital?
Where to keep it?
How to design it
How to remember it
If non-digital is preferred, a paper method can be used; a notebook, a classic tab of tearable lists, laminated lists, a photo frame with a dry erase marker, or a dry erase board are some ideas. If digital is preferred, there are many apps available, some with reminder settings, some with attached calendars, or the simple note app built into the phone. Find a way to create a routine that includes checking the list. You might not maintain this routine, but it will help remind you that the list exists and to use it. Get in the habit of actually using the list.
I know someone who uses the notes app on their phone. I know another who uses a paper with a list design on it and this is kept on their bedside table. I personally use a to-do list app that’s connected on my phone and computer. The system isn’t perfect (I still forget sometimes), but I have a lot less stress because I am less likely to forget something and I can break tasks down into steps.
What Else You Can Do
Managing ADHD is a daily set of tasks, and there are often speedbumps. You might need extra guidance, and that’s okay. Reach out to Sound Health Counseling today to get help managing your ADHD.
ADHD often brings with it two things that are on opposite ends of the spectrum; hyperfocus and inattention. How does this make sense? The ADHD brain can become easily distracted, but it can also hyperfocus on an activity. If you are a parent, redirection of your children often falls on you, though there are alternatives to this. If you are an adult, redirection of yourself often falls on you, a friend, family member, partner, coworker, etc. There are ways to make the process easier, and sometimes more fun.
Teachers use them, some families use them, counselors use them. Timers have flexible use and there are a variety available. A timer can specify when an activity is finished and to transition. Specific songs can play this role also. The Pomodoro timer was developed with productivity and breaks in mind- you can hyperfocus and automatically know when to take a break. A timer can also be set for periods to remind you to refocus on what you are doing in case of distraction.
Ease of Use
If you have a system for staying on track with attention, make sure it’s easy to use- easy to set up and reset. Spending time setting up the system can itself become a distraction, unless the creation of that setup becomes its own project before use. Putting effort into that project could provide motivation to then use the system. If the system is not user-friendly, then a person with ADHD is unlikely to use it. They’ll get tired of dealing with it and possibly stop bothering with their work because there is no longer a means of redirection.
What More Can You Do?
These suggestions are things we would tell our own clients, but they are still general. For help with your specific situation and improving focus and redirection, contact Sound Health Counseling Solutions today!
I still remember that moment; trying to put my shoes on a wire rack and they kept falling off. I got so frustrated that I resorted to throwing a shoe at the rack . Fortunately, a family member was there and helped me calm down. Since then, I have helped kids overcome their frustration intolerance, guiding them to calm down when they start complaining, crying, slamming, or throwing. By the way, in Organizing Solutions for People With ADHD, Susan Pinsky recommends against wire shoe racks due to the very issue I dealt with. Instead, she suggests getting a solid shelf- I did, and it made a world of difference.
The ADHD brain doesn’t handle frustration well. Being stuck on something that isn’t working, when you enjoy the activity, gets upsetting and uses up our energy for thinking. Being stuck when the activity isn’t enjoyable evaporates motivation and makes us want to walk away. Then there’s the anger, irritability, yelling, crying, and even throwing things that others in proximity of the person are stuck dealing with.
There’s a technique from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) by Marsha Linehan called REST:
Relax: walk away so you can reset and think clearly. If you can’t walk away, count to 10 or use another relaxation strategy.
Evaluate: is anyone in danger? Is anyone dying? What’s really going on in this situation?
Set a plan: think your way through what to do next. This can be rather difficult with ADHD, especially for children, but it forces the individual to take the time to consider their next steps before acting.
Take action: put the plan into motion.
A similar technique that particularly works with young children is called being a STAR (credit to a preschool teacher):
Take a breath
Frustration is inevitable in life, but managing it is doable, even with ADHD. If you or a loved one are struggling, reach out to Sound Health Counseling Solutions today to find out how we can help you manage ADHD and frustration.