Building a meditation practice has recently been recognised in the West as one of the best ways to reduce stress and the negative effects it has on our mental and physical health. I certainly couldn’t give mine up!
That said, I hear many people with ADHD say they associate it with boredom, and for them this is a huge deterrent. We all want a more peaceful mind, particularly if we have a tendency to over-think, but can we, as ADHDers achieve this in a more active way? Definitely!
Here are my top three tips. Ready?
Firstly, by ensuring our brain is well cared-for in a physical sense
We probably all know the ‘Big Four’ basics to ensure self-care for our brains. But here’s a quick reminder:
a. A balanced diet, rich in nutrients and fibre providing a good and constant supply of protein to create precious neuro-transmitters. Read more in my protein blog here
b. Consistent hydration. The NHS website says we should drink 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.
c. Adequate replenishing sleep. Read more in my sleep blog here
d. Adequate exercise. Read more in my exercise blog here
Secondly, by identifying our habitual emotion-drainers and stepping away from them
One of the many wonderful aspects of being a Life Coach is having the privilege of witnessing those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments with my clients. They are the points at which a certain clarity is reached, and it’s my favourite sound. Recently I was working with our local Meetup group and the ‘Ah-has’ were coming thick and fast! We were discovering that what seems to be immediate ‘fun’ can actually be draining us of precious, limited mental energy.
On a large piece of paper, we adapted Dr Tamara Rosier’s ‘Solve-it’ grid and it works like this:
Holding the paper landscape, we labelled the top of the page (North) Emotionally Replenishing
South: Emotionally draining
West: Not enjoyable right now
East: Enjoyable right now
Drawing central vertical and horizontal lines we then created quadrants. We thought of personal habits, tasks and mental tendencies and thought carefully about where they should be placed within the grid.
Here are some of ours:
Picking up the mobile/meal planning/working well ahead of a deadline/spending time with best friend/exercising in nature/getting a ‘like’ on social media/watering plants/being behind with paperwork/doing ironing/logging calls/procrastinating/nagging/
grief/taking a shower/ realising you’re going to be late/meditating/multitasking/ being nagged/being with negative people/paying late fees/playing with a fidget toy/finishing an overdue project/stroking a pet/being angry/reading a whole article
Here’s an example of how one might look, using a few of our collective insights. Don’t worry about how it looks, it’s the thought we put in that counts!
From these personal revelations, it became clearer what next steps would be useful, for example monitoring our time on social media, breaking overwhelming tasks down to smaller chunks, spending more time with friends, being wary of anger or giving ourselves compassionate permission to work through grief.
Thirdly, by by-passing our working memory and relying on a system tailored specifically for ourself
We want to avoid something recently identified as ‘choice fatigue’. Regular tasks need prioritising and this can be a particular struggle for us. ‘Winging it’ more often than absolutely necessary does nothing to help us stay calm and it therefore makes sense to build and rely on some form of planned and regular framework for our time.
At a time when we’re not fire-fighting (!) it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the big
Consider firstly the annual priorities. Having your ‘solve-it’ grid to hand, think how you could shape the year ahead to incorporate emotionally sustaining activities alongside the unavoidable tasks like renewing insurances and annual maintenance tasks. Devise a simple reminder system to keep yourself up to date, prevent unnecessary overdue fees and feel in control. Again, with monthly and weekly tasks, such as household budgeting, car care, meal planning and connecting with friends and family, think of the best reminder system which will work for you.
Likewise, think of your energy levels during any 24-hour period and consider the best time for the important daily tasks, incorporating those newly-realised insights.
A word of warning! – it’s tempting to build an over-complicated system. Be creative but flexible, so that in future when one element of it isn't working you can make minimal adjustments without ‘reinventing the wheel’ or abandoning it altogether.
Once we have a basic view of how tasks fit within the various timespans, we will naturally avoid most last-minute emergencies with their associated negative financial and mental impacts. We have effectively relieved our already-stretched working memories and the calm it can bring is truly liberating.
What first step will you take to giving yourself a calmer mind? What element of your sleep care needs attention? How could you reduce your procrastination? Read more about the science of procrastination here. Would finding a counselor be appropriate at this point? Are you happy with your use of social media? Could you learn more about meditating?
You’re in control now - enjoy activating your more peaceful mind!
Enormous thanks for inspiration to: