Using your body to calm itself

You’re struggling with recent changes to your routine.

As much as you’re encouraged to see the positive and find the opportunities in the situation. It’s difficult when you’re still trying to feel grounded.

It’s even harder when you are raising a child who is looking to you to help them feel safe during such an unpredictable time.

One step you can take is to start each day with a grounding activity.

Grounding simply refers to an activity that brings you into the present moment.

✔️ You can scan your body from head to toe and stop to wiggle any part of your body that needs to release stress (ages 2+ 😉)

✔️ While sitting you can push your feet into the ground. Just hard enough to almost start standing up. This is helpful for folks who need to release tension while having to sit.

✔️ Tensing and releasing hands, arms, torso, legs helps too.

It’s important to educate yourself and your child in how to use your body to calm itself.

Your body is the one resource you always have with you.

You just have to focus

The attention span of a lot of Spectrumites (ADHD/ASD) is shorter than you think, maybe a few seconds.

Then you space out and eventually back in. The rate your focus goes in and out could be compared to a flickering light. How fast the flicker depends upon the person.

Either way there are going to be gaps in the flow of info as its coming. This is regardless of your dose of meds or the strength of your coffee.

Yes, both meds and caffeine can improve focus but not eliminate the gaps completely. So you’ll need additional strategies.

The go to for most folks (spectrum or not) is to make assumptions, educated guesses about what was said or meant.
Sometime you guess right, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Simple strategies for filling the gaps include asking, “What did I miss,” “What did (so and so) just say,” or the dreaded, “Can you repeat that?”

Dreaded because of the scolding that usually follows for NOT paying attention.

Let me tell you, trying to keep a flickering brain focused is like trying to hold onto a squirming fish. It’s exhausting.

Work with us on this and we’ll both get what we need.

Supporting your kids during the age of Corona

There’s so much uncertainty in the news we’re receiving about what to expect from the spread of the Corona Virus. Except for the certainty it’ll get worse before it gets better.
 
It’s encouraging to see many parents focusing on helping their children develop a routine as close to what they’re used to as possible.
 
With the long list of shouldn’ts that seem to increase daily, it can be difficult to strike a balance between living and languishing.
 
They can still ride their bikes, play outside or explore nature, but at a distance from non family members.
 
Help them structure their plans with safety as the first goal. In fact, here’s a reimagining of the S.M.A.R.T. Goals strategy for this unique moment in history.
 
Safe
Manage anxiety
Acheivement
Reach out
Touch
 
Safe – First and foremost children want to know they’re safe in the world. That’s what gives them the space to take risks, explore and discover. You don’t want their curiosity about the world around them to fade because of this virus.
 
Manage Anxiety – They may be showing increased anxiety or feeling it but don’t understand that’s what’s happening. Either way, it’s helpful if they have activity that allows them to raise their heart rate, expend some energy and even laugh as loud as they want to. Playground activities or exercise works well for this.
 
They’ll experience a release of dopamine and endorphins as they play. Natural anxiety reducers and exercise for the win.
 
Achievement – It helps if they feel they’ve achieved something through their activities. Riding the bike for 30 minutes, going up and down the stairs a certain number of times while helping with chores. Research shows that feeling like we’re making progress in life increases our sense of happiness. Help you child create goals that leave them feeling like they’re accomplished something.
 
Reach Out – Encourage them to reach out to you with their questions or concerns about the virus, their feelings about the changes their experiencing, or just to shoot the breeze. Keeping the line of communication open can help prevent them from bottling things up.
 
Touch – As hand washing is now the go to to prevent spreading the virus, touch has become dangerous. Yet, touch is essential to our feelings of safety and connection. Remind your kids its okay to hug you and each other. That touch can calm the nervous system quickly by releasing dopamine and Oxycontin.
 
So have a dance party where you all sing together (for better or worse).
 
Play at the park with your kids. Put your phone down and laugh with them.
 
Enjoy this extra time to simply be with each other.
 
This is a tough time for all of us. Let’s create some experiences we’ll look back upon with gratitude.

Is ADHD a mental health challenge?

I referred to ADHD as a mental health challenge on LinkedIn and was corrected by another adult with similar issues.

Read this page and you’ll see the qualities of ADHD jumping out at you https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

I understand those who want diagnoses like ADHD and Autism to be seen as natural variances in the continuum of human variation.

How then do we discuss the challenges of impulsivity, hyperactivity and significant disorganization that makes it difficult for many of us to live our lives without significant help?

These challenges originate in our neurology, which directly influences our thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Sure, the response of society to our differences attributed to poor awareness, lack of acceptance or stigma causes us suffering.

ADHD would cause its share of suffering without societal pressure. Our efforts to achieve the results our peers do only to fall repeatedly on your face at the outset would likely cause you mental and emotional distress.

You may try to split hairs claiming these challenges are a result of how we respond to our ADHD, not from the ADHD itself.

I promise you, my history of extreme credit card debt due to impulsive spending isn’t the result of a poor perspective on ADHD. It’s because of poorly managed impulsivity caused by ADHD.

I’m not ashamed of living with ADHD, Asperger’s or anything else I’ve been diagnosed with.

I’m also not going to hold any of them so close to my heart that my ego is bruised whenever a diagnosis isn’t considered by others to be a huge part of my identity.

I take a very Zen approach to my mental health journey. I don’t see these diagnoses as part of who I am, I see them as experiences I’m having.

Experiences like all others that challenge me to find a sense of balance where I can.

Balance can be achieved through medication, meditation, nutrition, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits, even mindset.

But if I want to address the challenges caused by these diagnoses to experience different results than the default settings they grant me, I don’t owe an explanation to anyone else.

What have I missed?

Eliminating toxic people from your life

What makes someone in your life toxic? According to Nancy Irwin, one way to tell you have a toxic person in your life: Every time you encounter or hang out with them, you feel exhausted, emotionally drained, and negative. … Irwin describes a toxic person as anyone who is abusive, unsupportive, or unhealthy emotionally—someone who basically brings you down more than up. (Source http://bit.ly/2TEr0Im).

Does this describe anyone you know? Here’s the tougher question. does this describe you?

If you live with mental health challenges (e.g. ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar), becoming toxic is common. It’s difficult to be at home and feel confident in this world when you haven’t fiured out how to do it in your own mind/body.

There sure was a time I was toxic. Always negative, quick to find the downside of things. It cost me every friendship and one romantic partner after another.

It cost me the support I desperately needed from others. I imagine they grew tired of seeing their efforts to help me find perspective, hope, getting them nowhere. So they stopped trying.

I guess this is one reason I don’t give up on anyone. I knew I wasn’t hopeless. I was terrified of a world that could inflict bigger hurts than I knew how to deal with.

Its easy to point fingers at those around you and check off items on a list that make them the problem. It isn’t to say your assessment is incorrect. But change MUST start with you.

Communicating your needs, setting boundaries, monitoring the things you say and do that keep things as they are between you.

For example, have they become reactive to you? Do you trigger their reactivity? When you have a pattern of reactivity it becomes a hardwired habit in both of your brains that can be changed with conscious, deliberate, new action.

An important first step is monitoring the way you talk to yourself.

A tendency to go negative and defend that position isn’t about being cautious or covering all your bases. It’s about trying to convince yourself that safety is to be valued at the expense of risk.

The truth is, growth only occurs when you risk. Risk being hurt, mistaken, failing, loving.

You can go through life playing it safe, sure. That will leave you with one of the most toxic experiences of all, regret.

So what do you do? Take an honest look at how you show up in life. Are you a downer who always needs to be cheered up?

Do past hurts have overwhelming influence on present life?

Detoxing your life begins with your own mind/body. I know from experience that changing how you think, feel, eat, breathe and be, can change everything.

It begins with one step toward better. What step will you take?