Boost Self-Esteem with ADHD

woman with arms outstretched

Want to Boost Your Self-Esteem? Here’s 3 Empowering Strategies that Work for People with ADHD.

 

  1. Celebrate Strengths and Achievements

Focus on Strengths:

People with ADHD have many unique strengths, such as creativity, enthusiasm, and problem-solving abilities. By identifying and focusing on these and other strengths, you can build your self-esteem and boost your overall confidence.

Keeping a journal of daily or weekly achievements, no matter how small, can help shift your focus from challenges to accomplishments. Even a couple of minutes a day can make a difference.

Set Achievable Goals:

Chunking your tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces can make it easier to achieve goals. Celebrating your victories, however small, can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost confidence.

 

2. Develop a Support Network

Seek Support from Loved Ones:

Family and friends who are understanding and supportive can provide encouragement and positive reinforcement. Seek out the company of those whom you feel accept and get you. Sharing feelings and challenges with trusted individuals can help relieve stress and boost morale.

Join Support Groups:

Connecting with other people with ADHD provides a sense of community and understanding. Support groups offer spaces to share experiences, learn strategies, and give and receive encouragement. Meetup offers many opportunities to meet people who have something in common. If there’s no support group in your area, you could set one up.

 

3. Engage in Positive Self-Talk and Mindfulness Practices

Practice Positive Self-Talk:

Challenging your negative thoughts when they arise and replacing them with believable positive alternatives can improve self-perception. The first step is to become aware of your thoughts and notice them. 

Regularly reminding yourself of your worth and capabilities helps counteract feelings of inadequacy. You could try setting a reminder to say kind and supportive things to yourself several times a day. Small steps build up to a big difference.

Mindfulness and Stress-Reduction Techniques:

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga will help manage stress and improve focus. These practices can enhance self-awareness and self-acceptance, contributing to higher self-esteem.

By focusing on strengths, seeking support, and engaging in mindfulness practices, you can work towards improving your self-esteem and overall well-being.

Want to be More Productive at Work? Here’s Six Reasons to Take a Break.



Want to be More Productive at Work? Here’s Six Reasons to Take a Break.

Woman celebrating nature

 

It might seem counterintuitive that going away from your work for a break can actually make you more effective. In fact, an increase in productivity is just one of the benefits.

As neurodivergent people in the workplace, who love to get involved and give a lot of ourselves, we invariably end up with our time fully committed and perhaps with more than one role to contend with (think diversity leader, or mental health designated person, mother, father, child, team member, leader, etc) each with their consequent agendas to attend to throughout the course of just one day. We often have difficulty saying no to requests, and our divergent perspective on time can lead us down the path of getting overloaded and towards burnout.

I’ve seen it all too often; the clients who come to coaching overwhelmed and exhausted, on the verge of imminent collapse. They work from morning to night, spend long periods working evenings and weekends to “catch up” , yet no matter how many hours they put in, they haven’t reached that ideal place yet where they feel relaxed and in control – with a “mind like water” as David Allen describes, the well-known productivity guru and author of several great books on the subject of “Getting Things Done”.

Breaks help you rest

When I ask these clients , “So when did you last have a holiday? and by holiday I mean a time where you don’t monitor or answer emails, don’t respond to work-related communications, and definitely don’t log in to your devices to “catch – up!” “, typically the answer is many months and sometimes years in the past. Some of them have yet to use their Out of Office function on their emails. 

“And when did you last have some time to yourself to do something just for you that’s nothing to do with work?“ “Ermmm…”

It’s OK to be enthused by your work, it absolutely is. However, what I frequently hear is that although someone may be plugged in to their devices, their brain has gone elsewhere, and the time and effort they expend trying to accomplish tasks is not actually that productive. They get distracted, may spend time scrolling on their devices instead, and find it hard to sit and focus on that one piece of work they need to get done. Even when you don’t want to rest, your brain will find a way. Cat pictures, anyone?

Breaks replenish dopamine levels and raise productivity

When we have ADHD, we can have challenges with maintaining focus. It is possible to hyperfocus on something we are really interested in, however when we are tired and constantly bombarded with interruptions and more and more work coming in, it’s a lot harder to focus in any way. 

One method that has served many with ADHD well is the 15 – 20 minute rule.

What you do is to divide your work into handy chunks of no more than 15 – 20 minutes, set an alarm for the stop time and then dive in. The ADHD brain thrives on sprints rather than marathons. The very thought of working for a stretch of several hours without a break is off-putting for many of the clients I coach. Once your alarm goes off, that’s your cue to get up, stretch and move your body, and get useful brain chemicals flowing such as dopamine and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor ( BDNF for short).

Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters/hormones implicated in ADHD, where there is usually a deficiency of dopamine in the circuits which support the Executive Functions. Dopamine helps us feel alert, motivated and engaged. Thankfully there are many ways to increase it. Medication is one such approach. Other methods include diet, exercise or movement, listening to music, spending time outside in nature, meditation, massage.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22588-dopamine-deficiency

As you might notice, virtually none of these methods seem to involve being chained to a computer or working 24/7 for 365 days per year. Interesting hmm?

Breaks help us learn

Ways to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) a neurotransmitter and hormone, include exercise, meditation, deep sleep, and sunlight. Things that block BDNF include stress, sugar, carbs, and social isolation.

https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/21-proven-ways-to-increase-your-brains-growth-hormone#:

BDNF is the brain’s growth hormone, and assists in learning, memory, and emotional regulation.

https://www.banutascifresko.com/health-101/all-the-facts-on-bdnf-brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor/?lang=en

Breaks give fresh perspective

Apart from a break giving us a change physically from being seated at our screens, from the torrent of emails, from being tethered to meetings, breaks also provide mental nourishment.

Time for processing and taking a step back allows us to gain a sense of perspective. In the same way that we gain new outlooks on life whenever we travel or go on holiday, we get a chance to look at ourselves, our daily routines and habits ( if we have any!) from a different viewpoint.

For many, not having those opportunities was one of the aspects of the lockdowns which had a huge impact on wellbeing. Being stuck at home, with only those daily exercise breaks to look forward to meant we couldn’t get away from our lives and see another viewpoint. There was no variety. There was no upcoming holiday to look forward to and that felt heavy. 

Planning future breaks to look forward to can fill us with positive anticipation, even when the present situation may be challenging.

Breaks provide us with self-care

Breaks also give us the certain knowledge that we are taking care of ourselves. Moving our bodies has a host of benefits including increasing learning, having a positive effect on our heart health, breathing and oxygen levels. Listen to this podcast episode from Dr. Michael Mosley to find out how taking micro breaks from sitting can help lower our blood sugar and even increase our life expectancy. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0011405

Breaks offer the chance to deepen relationships

Another benefit of breaks from working is the opportunity they give us to connect with others for personal not just work-related reasons.  Building and maintaining relationships takes time, and there are many ways we can help this along. 

Here are a few ideas:

Start a class in something that interests you, and you will meet like-minded people to relate to. 

Share a common interest with a friend and take a weekend workshop.

Call up a friend and go for a walk in nature together. 

See a film with friends or family and discuss it with them.

The benefits of taking breaks both big and small are many. They have the potential to support our brain health and productivity, maintain or boost physical and mental well-being, and deepen our relationships with others. 

So what are you waiting for? How many ways can you find to take a life-affirming break?

It’s time to get strategic around Christmas

It’s time to get strategic around Christmas.

If you’re a person who finds organization a challenge the rest of the year round, it may reassure you to know that you’re not alone in finding Christmas a mega-challenging time.

Christmas is a crazy-making time precisely because all the challenges come at once. That means all the strategies we need throughout the year are needed more than ever. You will need to bring out the strategies, tools, and techniques you have for managing yourself and your stuff to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Unless you want to start your Christmas preparations months before the merry day (and personally, I find that prospect extremely unappealing), all the preparations need to be done within a fairly short period over a few weeks. On top of all the other day-to-day stuff which still needs doing.

Just the kind of thing that we ADHDers find challenging. There’s so much to do and so much to remember. That’s because there is a lot to do in a short timescale. In some ways that can be a tremendous advantage for those with an ADHD brain. We are great at sprints so you can view a time-limited event like Christmas, just like a sprint or series of sprints. It’s only a few weeks away, and then it’s finished.

What kind of strategies are particularly useful at Christmas time?

  1. Simplify: 

 Instead of feeling bad because you haven’t time to personally send out 100 cards to all your friends, relations, and people you want to thank at the end of the year, why not take the pressure off yourself and send some of your greetings another way, which doesn’t involve doing it all at the same time? People will be glad to hear from you anytime; it doesn’t necessarily have to be done before Christmas day, does it?

2. Do what you can in advance to make life easier on the day:

I have spent nearly every Christmas Eve of my life hurriedly wrapping presents at the last minute, but not this year! This year I will be relaxing with my feet up, with my presents already wrapped and under the tree. I set myself the challenge of completing this just a bit at a time so that on Christmas Eve, I can focus on enjoying the company of others without this task hanging over me.

3. Ask others for help:

Attempting to do all of the Christmas preparations on your own can be a recipe for martyrdom and resentment, especially if you’re providing meals for people. You won’t get brownie points for feeling put upon!

For some reason, our ADHD brains think it is necessary to do everything ourselves, even if we nearly collapse with the effort. Delegating can help you by reaching out to others to see what part of the preparations they would be willing to take on and share. If you ask yourself, “What’s preventing me from asking for help?” you may come up with some interesting answers that could help you move forward.

You can feel calmer and more in control by using straightforward strategies such as these examples to reduce the overwhelm that comes from having so much to do in a short time.

Simplify – reduce the sheer number of Christmas things to do.

Do what you can in advance – by doing things in advance, you clear your path for a more effortless and enjoyable time on the day itself.

Ask for help – many hands make light work, and are you aware that people love to help?

Why not pick just one thing you will do differently this year to make Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable? After all, if you end up having a good time, it’s much more likely that others will too.

The Impact of Being Able to Have a Break from Caring.

Image of mother and young adult female

The Impact of Being Able to Have a Break from Caring.

It’s Carers Rights day on Thursday 24th November. But wait, you may say, what is a carer and who are they caring for?

Firstly it’s important to distinguish between a paid support worker or personal assistant and an unpaid carer. A carer means someone providing unpaid care.

When we talk about carers we are referring to people who are unpaid carers of someone with a condition, disability, illness or of someone who is older. 1 in 8 people in the UK are currently caring for someone.

Carers rights include:

  • The right to a Carer’s Assessment and your identified needs being met
  • Rights at work and the right not to be discriminated against because of your caring role
  • The right to be recognised as a carer
  • The right to be included in hospital discharge planning
  • The right to register with your GP Practice as an unpaid carer to enable you to access health checks and Covid-19 and flu vaccinations
  • Carers right to a break

You can find out more about the rights and entitlements of carers.  Go here for more information:

https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/carers-rights-day/find-out-about-your-rights

also

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-resources/our-factsheets

 

What’s it like being a carer of an adult with a neurodivergent condition such as ADHD or Autism?

There’s a lot of concerns and worry that the young adult may not be coping with day to day life.

Carers can spend a lot of their time and energy looking for services which can potentially provide support or help for the young adult, including finding professionals who can undertake assessments and diagnoses.

These carers, who are often the parents of the young adult, may not feel able to get a break from their young adult or leave them alone, or they may have left home but still be needing high levels of support. That could be financial, practical, dealing with services, helping them get organised, providing emotional support, making sure they eat healthily, and keep their homes in a habitable state.

Many parents of young adults with Autism or ADHD and other health conditions as well, who contact me for support or information are unaware they are carers. Some of them are not surprisingly extremely tired and emotionally drained. Having a break from caring can make all the difference to a person’s life. As a carer myself I could not continue to provide care effectively without regular planned breaks from caring.

There are several ways to have breaks that you could consider:

One – getting a break from caring from the person that you provide care for, in other words arranging for someone else to take over from you and provide care instead.

Two – getting a break from your “workplace”; for carers this could mean getting away from your routine at home, and even your home itself. Most people who take time off work take it for granted that they will be spending time away from their place of work, however for carers whose workplace is their home, this aspect is often overlooked.

Breaks can be short like a few hours or a day out for yourself, or they can be longer and involve a night or two or even more away from your cared-for person or away from your home.

Things I have noticed when I get exhausted from caring continuously without a break:

I get crabby and irritable.

Life seems less enjoyable and I lose my sense of humour.

Things seem much more effortful, and I have much less energy to tackle the everyday jobs. It’s even harder to summon up extra energy for trips or days out, as I feel too tired to be able to cope with them.

I lose my sense of perspective, and caring seems to take up all my energy.

I begin to feel hopeless and weighed down by my caring responsibilities.

By contrast when I have had regular breaks:

I feel energised and my mood is more upbeat.

My sense of humour returns, and I feel more light-hearted.

I feel able to cope well with the day to day jobs. I can plan enjoyable activities, knowing I will have enough energy to be able to carry them out and enjoy them.

I can broaden my horizons outside of caring and widen my perspective to other aspects of my life.

I feel rested, and that caring is a part of what I do, not the whole of it.

 

If you are a carer and are feeling you could do with some advice and support, please do get in touch with one of the carers organisations.

Carers UK have a handy database you can search to find your local support organisations:

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/local-support

If you are based in Devon, Devon Carers https://devoncarers.org.uk/ has lots of information on its website. There is a Carer’s Rights Day being held in the Corn Exchange in Exeter on Thursday 24th November where you can drop in to speak to someone and find out more about what’s available.