Enjoy these remaining strategy ideas from Chapter 12: Strategies for Maintaining Spiritual & Mental Wellness.
Create a History and Future for Yourself
Keep a journal of past accomplishments, future goals, and plans. Review it regularly. Typically, individuals with ADHD live in the moment, which lends itself to a host of problems: not thinking of consequences before acting on thoughts; forgetting past accomplishments as well as past failures; not thinking of the impact of current choices on a future goal, even a short-term one. The feeling of being perpetually trapped in the present can often lead to feelings of emptiness and lack of direction. Having a list of past accomplishments can help to shift your focus to the success you’ve already achieved. It can also encourage you to believe that you can succeed again and achieve what you set out to do!
Beware of Let-Downs After Completing Big Projects or Accomplishments
Many of my clients immediately go into a depression after they complete a large project. All of a sudden the pressure is off and nothing seems “exciting” or relevant. Know this can happen, and put a plan in place to compensate for the downtime. For example, immediately after I completed the Boston Marathon, I couldn’t escape the sense of “I haven’t done anything with my life; I’m a total loser.” To counter this, I put together a photo album of the Marathon and started sharing my recent “win” with everyone so it would stay alive in my mind and help me remember that I wasn’t a “loser.”
Identifying Your Energy Rhythms
People with ADHD are often unaware of when their bodies are worn down. It’s important to learn not only what types of projects create energy for you, but also which ones drain energy. That way you can plan the most demanding activities during your peak energy times, as well as gauge when to stop working on a project and rest.
Keep a calendar or a log of your energy rhythms for a period of several weeks. This works best if the system is simple. For example, use a scale of plus or minus signs to depict high or low energy times, and write them beside different activities logged in a daily calendar.
Pre-Plan for Bad Brain Days
Can’t concentrate? Distracted? My clients call this a “bad brain day.” For these days it’s important not to push yourself too hard and to have a failsafe plan in mind by knowing what works for you. Take a break and walk around the block, have a cup of tea, or call a friend. Then get back to work. One of my clients says he gives himself a “time out” by going to a café near work to just “sit and chill” for an hour. The key is to know when these days hit and take action by doing what works for you.
Take a Daily Inventory
Take time each day to reflect on your life and how you are living it. What do you want to change? What will it take? What are you willing to give up to get there? How were you of service today? How can you live a more purposeful life? Asking yourself these questions at the end of each day will help you focus on the things you can and cannot change in your life. That way you can begin to focus more on the positive instead of the negative.
One of my clients has made a habit of ending each day by writing down one thing for which she’s grateful. She does this right before bed each night as a way of reflecting on the day she’s just lived through, and a way of de-stressing before sleep. I’ve tried it, and I agree with her. It’s amazing how you can learn to accentuate the positive!
© 2008 Nancy Ratey
Stay tuned for next week’s post on living with an ADHD person.