Whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or are experiencing several its symptoms and suspect you have ADHD, an experienced counsellor can help you get your life and your emotions on track and moving in a positive direction.
The goal is to help you design your life to fit how your brain works. This is the reverse of the conventional approach, and it is one of the primary reasons that having ADHD is so hard. If you try to train your brain to work according to how others structure it, it is most often an exercise in frustration and often failure.
Is it really possible to design or structure your life to fit how your brain works?
Perhaps not 100%, but with creativity and insight much can be done. The following are examples of ways in which structuring your life around how your brain works best can be used to benefit you.
Following the breadcrumbs vs. planning
With ADHD, there is a tendency to do what is attractive in the moment. This can lead to doing many things in a day, but not doing some of the high priority things that you wanted or needed to do. When we don’t do what we need to do in a day, the result is stress and anxiety.
In our sessions, we will figure out a planning system that works for you. You’ve likely tried many and not liked them. By identifying what worked and didn’t work about previous planning attempts, you will make some new arrangements and slowly begin to experiment with them. By experimenting, you’ll further hone into what works and what doesn’t work for you. In the end, you’ll have a system of planning that is simple, is created by you and for you, and takes away a huge amount of stress.
Making your environment fit you
Another big consideration with ADHD is environment. Where do you work best, under which conditions? As you know, where and under which conditions you work best do not stay the same for many people with ADHD. However, it is possible to identify several options for environments that support your work, and we’ll practice tuning into your needs to help you identify which environment and which conditions are best. This up-front effort will save lots of time and frustration.
Discovering your “work windows”
When you have ADHD there are times when your brain is more or less ready for certain types of tasks. Working together we will identify the tasks you need to accomplish and when your brain is normally best prepared for these tasks – also known as your work windows. Knowing what your work windows are will be crucial when you begin to plan out your days.
Noticing different types of distraction
Distractions are not all equal. There are different reasons for distraction. Knowing why you are distracted in a certain situation is essential in coming up with a solution. For example, if you are distracted due to boredom, that is very different than being distracted due to frustration, which is again very different from being distracted due to the environment or conditions (the teacher moving too slowly through material, your best friend sitting next to you, etc.). Knowing the reason for the distraction is halfway to solving it as efforts made to the root cause will have noticeable results right away.
Like distraction, procrastination also happens for a variety of reasons. It’s important to understand what’s behind the procrastination. Often procrastination happens around things you don’t know how to do or feel overwhelmed with doing. Other reasons for procrastination could include underestimating the time it takes to complete a task and not using a planning system to ensure that tasks are brought forward when they need to be.
The “H” in ADHD stands for hyperactivity. Usually adults with ADHD will be less physically hyperactive, but many will still have a hyperactive mind. Lots of thoughts buzzing around in a busy mind is challenging as it tends to create a sense of overwhelm, stress and exhaustion. There are several different ways of working on slowing down the thought stream. One of those ways is mindfulness. Try an experiment: take a moment to notice your feet right now, essentially feel your feet. Describe what you feel, even if the feelings are subtle. What did you notice about your thoughts while you did this 30 second exercise?
You likely noticed that when you shifted your attention toward your feet, your thoughts moved into the background. Mindfulness is all about tapping into your power to shift attention. Mindfulness need not take very long or be hard to do and yet it is extremely effective at creating gaps in the mind stream which are very restful on one hand and can even help you unhook from negative thought spirals on the other hand.
ADHD can lead to emotional challenges such as anger, shame, anxiety and often feeling alone and misunderstood. Some ADHD examples of this include the following: you are trying way harder than anyone else to be on time and yet it just doesn’t happen and no one seems to understand you despite your best efforts to explain what is happening; you feel forced into doing things in ways that frustrate you and do not work for you at all and this can lead to feeling like a failure or it can lead to a build up of anger; you have been told or picked up on messaging that you are lazy, not good enough or that there’s something wrong with you.
Knowing about ADHD and how it has affected you is going to help you make sense of a lot of your life experiences. This is healing in itself. We will also work together to learn how to face these emotions and see them from a healthy perspective – a place of true relationship where emotions no longer overwhelm you or need to be shut away.
In summary, it’s important to know that getting therapeutic help with ADHD can make a big difference in your life by helping you understand yourself better and finding intelligent ways to make your life fit how your brain naturally operates.