I’ve had this blog post as a draft for ages because I felt like I had to have ALL the information in the world before sharing it in case I missed anything out. I didn’t want to share it whilst I was struggling so much. I felt a bit like a hypocrite for not taking every tip on board myself and was kind of dreading anyone asking me how it’s all going for me. Whilst I know all of these things work wonders and are great ways to manage the ADHD Brain, I still have days which drag into weeks and months where I can’t match my intentions with my actions and feel like ADHD is getting the better of me. I find great comfort in knowing that there are things I CAN do to help myself when I do feel like I am at the end of my tether, it’s just gathering the motivation to start doing most of them that I battle with.
Apart from a couple of sporadic talking therapy sessions, I have had no real support since being diagnosed with Adult ADHD last year as I was told only medication would help me and so trying to manage my symptoms and traits naturally has been both amazing and totally frustrating. Every day is a learning curve where I am discovering what works for me at different times but I often get bored of the routine and then forget which things I need to stick to consistently and which things are great to take on board during a crisis (also known as an anxiety or panic attack, complete lack of focus, fuzzy head syndrome – named by me, social meltdown..etc). In my ‘failing’ to get it right for longer than a month, I have felt at times, like I almost lost the plot but as I embark on my 2nd steady week of deliberately loving on my brain and taking my own advice again, I relax enough to realise that My ADHD brain is way too complex for me to fully understand. I was also diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) last month which came as no surprise but learning about the condition has really shocked me so I am going to go easy on myself but also commit to learning and understanding as much as I can and the great thing about doing that is that I am constantly discovering and practicing ways to manage my symptoms and ensure that I am as happy, productive, peaceful and calm as possible.
I wanted to reach out to all of you who are feeling similar or just off. Wether you have ADHD, think you may have it, had it as a child and didn’t realise it doesn’t stop after primary school or even if its not even ADHD related. Maybe you battle with depression, anxiety or just struggle with your thoughts and mindset in general, these tips that I am going to share will definitely help you. There are way more than 9 things that I wanted to share but I feel like I am literally losing days by being distracted every time i’ve tried to finish this blog post. I initially called this ’27 ways to manage my mental health’ but I have shortened it today because I keep getting messages from people who have been recently diagnosed and need support so I wont let my delay be theirs! Or yours!! I will do 9 at a time for a few weeks LOL – This is actually hilarious of me.
These are things that are all effective, helpful, relieving, important and beneficial for a healthy mindset and better mental health but there are a lot coming so don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated. Even if you only take 1 of these tips on board, I pray it really benefits you to a point of no turning back. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit so let’s all enter 2019 feeling encouraged, expectant, enthusiastic and just BETTER!
- Educate yourself
The reason I haven’t had a massive moan about the NHS yet despite their waiting lists for mental health patients being DISGRACEFUL, is because I realised that me getting all impatient will not shorten my waiting time so I needed to get a step ahead and use this time effectively by learning as much as possible about my brain. I had heard that mental health practitioners had been wrongly diagnosing women who have ADHD and I found out first hand that there are medical practitioners that have little or no knowledge about ADHD in adults so I did lots of my own research and it has been life changing. If I think about what I have been told and offered, I would have been a confused mess. Realising you have ADHD as an adult is hard enough, to then realise its the reason your life is a mess but have only been given vague information about it can feel soul destroying so you need to study your condition properly. Read loads and speak to others who may seem to know more than you or share similar experiences (social media is great for this – just search hashtags). You will save yourself if you understand yourself.
2. Educate others
As you learn new things about yourself and the way your mind works, share the important parts with those you love or who are around you often. As you learn about your ADHD, depression, bipolar, anxiety, eating disorder, personality disorder or any other neurological difference, you will understand some of your past behaviours and where you may need patience or support in the future. Talking to your loved ones, colleagues or associates about these things can help them to understand and help you when you are seeming off or not behaving in a consistent manner.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage ADHD. It helps get rid of excess energy in the most beneficial way and I always feel like my mind is less jumbled and has about 23 less tabs open after I have had a workout of some kind. Even just a 20 minute walk. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins which are chemicals that make you feel uplifted, focused and energised. It also helps to eradicate stress and insomnia, and is a natural mood enhancer. I wish wish wish I could do it everyday. Actually let me change that: I WILL do some exercise everyday!! (Speak Life over your life).
People with ADHD have an interest based nervous system so need extra mental stimulation to do things we are not excited by. This means that we often leave a lot of things until the last minute where the fear of not completing them gives us that motivation we need to start. The distractions kick in though and we remember other things we need to do or an amazing idea pops up that leads to other things and we never get to finish what we start. This is so frustrating and can leave you feeling behind all the time. Time boxing helps me overcome this! I could never do it every day but a few times a week I set a day or evening aside to get stuff done and I time my tasks so that my brain stays stimulated enough to get to the end of more than one thing each day or week. I wrote a blog post about Time Boxing here.
5. Set Deadlines
If you have important things to do, or personal goals you want to achieve, you 100% CAN! Some days you won’t even feel like you have the mental capacity to make a cup of tea but you can do everything you want and are planning to do. Other days you may find gathering the motivation to wash a few dishes almost impossible but that doesn’t mean you can’t start that Blog, Podcast, Youtube channel or Business you have on your heart. That doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. If it’s something that will benefit yourself and others, why shouldn’t you do it? Everyday is different but once you start by gathering up some passion, writing out your vision then setting yourself realistic deadlines, you will be shocked at what you can achieve. Break each task up into mini tasks so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming if you have to but definitely try it.
6. Take time out
When you feel overwhelmed with emotion or discomfort of any kind, take some time out for yourself. You don’t have to make an announcement if you are around other people, but do make the effort to purposefully have a few minutes to yourself. To prevent feeling like this, make sure you take regular time out in your week to do something you enjoy. That could be anything from a reading, having a night in or out with a good film, a nap, a dance or a pamper day of some kind. Whatever makes you smile, do it.
7. Think about what you eat
What you eat effects how you feel. Your brain is connected to your gut. There are things that Trigger my ADHD symptoms so I try to stay away from them as best I can. Read my blog post on my ADHD Triggers here. In general though, a plant based or vegan diet is best for our mental health. Read my blog post about why this is true here. Cutting out all animal products may sound super unrealistic to lots of you but starting somewhere will make all of the difference. Try it and see. Start off by cutting out or cutting down on some of the animal products you ingest and as you see how much better you begin to feel, I am sure you will find it easier and easier to cut out more.
8. Have regular phone breaks
Swap social media for something else. There are some beautiful benefits to be experienced through social media but then the opposite is also on offer. If you use social media for work, set times where you check in on or post on your pages and then use the rest of your time to develop yourself or just enjoy your own company. Start a new a hobby or book, watch a film, catch up with a friend, meditate, journal your feelings from the day. Whatever it is, focus on yourself rather than falling into the possible trap of comparing yourself to internet faces or overthinking things triggered by an unwanted image or notification.
9. Carry a note book
Notebooks are multi-blessings. They are great to use during phone breaks too. Whenever I am having a phone break I always need to jot an idea down before I forget it and so reach for my notes app but way too often that then leads to 2 hours of trawling or Pinterest gawping and my evening has disappeared before my eyes. With a notebook you can write prayers out (great to look back on and see what God answered), get all of your ideas down, write things you need to remember to look up or do, write out lists that bring so much joy and organisation, journal your feelings when you feel something you are not used to for future reference and you can write your day right with little gratitude notes to help you focus on goodness when you feel down. Note books are the best!
I hope you receive some peace of mind from some or even one of these tips. More to come in Part 2 and Part 3 LOL