5 Ways to Reduce Your ADHD Symptoms

In the early 2000s, when I first began to uncover my own ADHD, I came across an invaluable list of 50 tips for managing Attention Deficit from Drs. Ed Hallowell and John Ratey.  I still have my original copy of the list printed off from the World Wide Web (see below), with all my notes jotted along the margins. In today’s blog, I am sharing not only their life-changing advice but also my personal experience with Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity disorder and how I used these suggestions to transform my life.
Page with notes in the margins

Squirrels and Scripture Series Continues with
5 of the 50 Tips Regarding ADHD Insight and Education:

Educate yourself

“Perhaps the single most powerful treatment for ADD is understanding ADD in the first place. Read books. Talk with professionals. Talk with other adults who have ADD. You’ll be able to design your own treatment to fit your own version of ADD.” (Hallowell & Ratey)

Nonfiction is my preferred reading. Ironically, the origins for this preference most likely comes from living with ADHD. When I start to read fiction, my mind wanders; sometimes it goes so far I either forget I am reading or I drift off.  Nonfiction has quantifiable details. It is interactive. I can grab my purple, pink or orange fine-tipped marker and underline facts and jot notes in the margins. Since I perceive it as interactive nonfiction can typically hold my attention fairly well. This is probably why this directive from Hallowell and Ratey to “educate myself,” turned into my becoming a full blown early childhood ADHD education expert. Once I started to read and research, I could not stop.  I devoured books, magazine articles and anything I could find on the budding Internet.  In addition, I found lectures and conferences to attend.  Then began giving workshops, presentations, and even a keynote address, on the subject.

Coaching

“It is useful for you to have a coach, for some person near you to keep after you, but always with humor. Your coach can help you get organized, stay on task, give you encouragement or remind you to get back to work. Friend, colleague, or therapist (it is possible, but risky for your coach to be your spouse), a coach is someone to stay on you to get things done, exhort you as coaches do, keep tabs on you, and in general be in your corner. A coach can be tremendously helpful in treating ADD.”

My friend, Karen, is a nurse and the most organized person I know.  She is also a very selfless and loyal friend.  After this accountability partner idea had come up several times in my ADHD resources I know it was something I had to implement.  The advice often included a very strict warning to avoid asking spouses, parents or siblings to fulfill that role.  A trusted, honest friend, who also happened to have a medical background, seemed not only the most logical choice but also soon revealed to be an answer sent directly from heaven.

Our plan was simple.  I was to check in with her twice a week. I was motivated to put her plan into action due partly to my people-pleasing nature and partly to my overachieving side. Karen created for me an easy to follow organizational plan. It consisted simply of a lined spiral bound notebook and a 4-part daily task list (now replaced with my Bullet Journal). Each day I would divide a fresh page into 4 sections – Important and Urgent; Important but not Urgent; Long Term (within the month); and Future To Do. The last category was a dumping place for thoughts and ideas that popped up that I did not want to forget, but did not yet fit in my task list.  This worked so well for me.  I found myself accomplishing long overdue projects, remembering important dates and tasks (aka paying bills).  Every little success had an immediate, positive effect on my self-esteem.

Encouragement

“ADD adults need lots of encouragement. This is in part due to their having many self-doubts that have accumulated over the years. But it goes beyond that. More than the average person, the ADD adult withers without encouragement and positively lights up like a Christmas tree when given it. They will often work for another person in a way they won’t work for themselves. This is not “bad”, it just is. It should be recognized and taken advantage of.”

This is where Scripture and my bible study friends had the greatest impact.  Nothing more encouraging than the Word of God and godly friends eager to share that word with you!!

Proverbs 19

Give up guilt over high-stimulus-seeking behavior

“Understand that you are drawn to high stimuli. Try to choose them wisely, rather than brooding over the “bad” ones.”

To me, there are the behaviors that give a little rush. I can actually feel my “Adrenalin-seeking” self, when either anticipating or participating in these activities.  My persona high stimulus-seeking behaviors were gossipshopping (aka accumulating things) and being the life of the party.  If I am honest these are still some triggers. I need to fight the temptation to fall back into them especially when I am feeling low.  Stay Tuned: more on this topic in an upcoming blog!

Listen to feedback from trusted others

”Adults (and children, too) with ADD are notoriously poor self-observers. They use a lot of what can appear to be denial.”

This is a difficult tip to follow as constructive feedback, meant to help them thrive, can be perceived as criticism. I can attest that hearing what my friends considered were some of my worse social offenses was painful (really painful) but as I worked through each one (usually with many tears) I felt myself becoming more of the person I always knew I was on the inside.

Quote from Allison Gingras

Bonus Tip:

“Don’t feel chained to conventional careers or conventional ways of coping. Give yourself permission to be yourself. Give up trying to be the person you always thought you should be–the model student or the organized executive, for example–and let yourself be who you are.”

My career path tangled, twisted and twirled as follows:

Administrative Assistant Banking … Secretary Real Estate … Mortgage Processor …
Paralegal … In-home Child Care Provider … Preschool Teacher/Owner … Catholic Speaker

Each had positives and each had some serious negatives. Just a heads-up if you struggle with Executive Function aka organization or attention to detail – do NOT enter a field requiring exceptional and consistent use of these skills, such as, Administrative work in Banking, Secretary in a Real Estate office, Mortgage Processing or being a Paralegal. Just Saying! 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
Quotes from 50 Tips On The Management Of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.and John J. Ratey, M.D., http://www.acbr.com/fas/adhdtips.htm.

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