The ADHD Solutions Blog

Evening hours for ADHD coaching or therapy

Evening hours

Some people find it hard to make it to a coaching or therapy appointment during the day. That’s why I offer evening hours on Wednesdays. Those hours filled up very quickly when I announced them back in June (many people like to reserve the same day and time for their weekly sessions). But now, both the 6:00 and 7:00 slots are open again.

Call me at 717.730.2144, email me at beth@adhdsolutions.net, or request a free consultation using my website form if you’d like to schedule an appointment.  We can meet via phone, Skype, or in-person at my office in Camp Hill, PA. Let me know what works for you!

How to avoid ADHD-Christmas overload

Christmas overwhelm(This blog post originally appeared on my ADDitude Magazine blog.  Seems like a great time to run it again, before the holiday madness really sets in!

My childhood Christmas memories include cookie baking, tree decorating, and carol singing. Yes, really — it was perfect. I remember all seven of us signing the dozens of cards sent to friends and family, and taking turns opening each day on the advent calendar. The presents were always highly anticipated — and usually perfect. My godmother hummed Christmas songs, and always had a hug or a kind word to share. She never once lost her temper.

Maybe the pace was slower then – one wage earner, one car, us kids entertained ourselves all day – or maybe I’m just remembering it wrong. Either way, for many years I invested too much time and anxiety in trying to reproduce that holiday magic for my own family.

I kept shopping-list spreadsheets (with more than 100 gifts). I fretted over paying the credit card bills. I baked cookies after work, trying hard not to throw anything when they came out burnt. I scribbled our names onto Christmas cards for people I didn’t make time to talk to during the year. I woke up in a panic some nights, worrying about what I’d forgotten.

I grew to dread the entire month of December. The holidays were way too much for my already-overloaded ADHD brain. I considered prescription medicine for seasonal anxiety related to my ADHD, and self-medicated with eggnog.

Then one year, something magical happened. A co-worker sheepishly asked if we could stop exchanging gifts. I was elated! It got me thinking: How many other people would be relieved to lessen their holiday burden? The following year, I broached the idea with several enlightened relatives. Yes, they said, they too found gift giving to be stressful. “Thank you for asking!”

Today, I’m a minimalist when it comes to celebrating the yule. I do only the holiday things that truly bring me joy.

I don’t decorate for the neighbors, I don’t send cards, and I don’t mind that I don’t get many either. I don’t bake (it sabotages my efforts to stick to an ADHD-friendly diet of protein, vegetables and whole grains anyway). Not even a Christmas tree (ick, those needles!), although I do have a lovely pink poinsettia on the dining room table. My gift exchange list is manageable: one person. He’s fun to shop for, so I’ll keep him on the list.

The point of all of this? We all have ideas of how the holidays should be celebrated, based on our childhoods, what we see on TV, and what our friends and neighbors do. But how much of it do we really enjoy? How much of it do our families enjoy? They probably do NOT enjoy being the recipients of our increased frustration level, that’s for sure. It’s hard enough to deal with the stress of daily living with ADHD. Do you know anyone who feels less stress during the holidays? I didn’t think so.

So If we aren’t enjoying it, why the heck are we doing it?

I invite you to consider your own traditions next year. What seems obligatory? What seems like madness? What would you rather do without? What can you reasonably do and still feel good about? That’s what you should do. Give yourself permission to drop the rest. Then, you’ll know the feeling of joy during the holiday season. And that, I believe, is the whole idea.

Can we procrastinate on winter?

Fall viewThis is the view from my office window today.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Beautiful scenery notwithstanding, fall is my least favorite season. Why? Oh, the weather is usually just right – not too hot, not too cold. Heating and cooling expenses are lower. The bugs are gone.

The reason I dislike fall so much really has little to do with the season itself.  It’s the anticipation of winter - ice, freezing temps, bulky layers of clothing. I dread it. Funny thing is, once Jack Frost arrives, I realize that it’s really not so bad. It’s nice to sit in front of the fire.  There’s something incredibly peaceful about creating fresh tracks through the snow-covered woods. And I have a lot of nice sweaters!

There’s a parallel here to life with ADHD.   How many times have you put something off, and put it off again, because you just “know” it’s going to be awful? And when you finally make yourself do it, you realize it was easy?  Our perspective of how difficult things are, how unpleasant they will be, or how long they will take, is often skewed.  Perspective is funny like that.

Sometimes the best thing to do is take a closer look.  What are you really dreading?  How bad could it really be? What’s the worst thing about it?  You might recognize that your fears are an illusion. Or you might find some truth to them, in which case you can deal with them in a rational way.  Either way, hopefully, you’ll find your procrastination falling away like the autumn leaves.

CBT for ADHD

One of my favorite slogans is “Never underestimate the power of positive thinking”. So when I learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), it seemed like the perfect addition to my tool belt for working with ADHD adults.  A brief primer for those unfamiliar with CBT:  The idea is that negative thinking causes us to feel bad, which in turn affects our motivation and behavior. If you’re saying things to yourself like “I’ll never be able to do that” or “why do I always screw up?”, you feel bad.  You procrastinate, or do other unhealthy things. You stay stuck. Conversely, if you challenge those negative thoughts and replace them with something like “I’ve been successful with things that were harder than this”, or consciously look for examples of where you did not screw up, you’ll feel better. And, as you’ve probably noticed, feeling good makes it much easier to do just about anything.

What does this have to do with ADHD?  Well, I've noticed over the years that we ADDers tend to be really down on ourselves. It's probably from programming we received growing up. We were often told, explicitly or implicitly, that we're no good, lazy, will never reach our potential.  Ouch.

Changing the way you think, and creating healthier habits, isn’t as simple as it might sound. Often, we aren’t aware of these negative thoughts. They tend to pop up automatically without us even noticing.  And when you are aware of them, sometimes it’s hard to get out of the negativity by yourself.

CBT was designed to increase awareness, identify negative thoughts (which are often "distorted", or inaccurate), and replace them with healthier thinking. It also helps you solve real-world problems and change the way you do things.  That’s the “B” in CBT – changing your behavior.  Your actions.  And it’s one of the most evidence-based (i.e. tested) mental health treatments around.  CBT plus an in-depth knowledge of ADHD - such as what a specialist like myself would have - is very powerful combination. Anyone with attention-related concerns, who also tends to dwell in the land of negativity, would be well advised to give it a try.

I recently attended training on CBT at the Beck Institute.  CBT was initially developed by Dr. Aaron Beck back in the 1960s. He still participates in the training workshops that are now run by his daughter, Dr. Judith Beck.  Getting this training directly from the source, along with people from all over the USA and 22 different countries, was an incredible experience. While I’ve been using CBT since my grad school internship, I learned a lot during this training that I am now using in my work with clients.  I’m even more jazzed about it than I was before, which is saying a lot.

 

 

3 Surefire Strategies that Don’t Work for ADHD

Here's an excerpt from another great piece by Margarita Tartakovsky at PsychCentral, citing my belief that staying up late to get things done is counter-productive:

"Ineffective strategy: Staying up late to get work done.

It’s very common for people with ADHD to stay up late. “[P]rocrastination can lead ADHD-ers to wait until the last minute and then complete projects, study for exams or pack for travel overnight,” said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Also, “many ADHD adults are night owls and naturally stay awake late at night,” said Dana Rayburn, a certified ADHD coach who leads private and group ADHD coaching programs. It’s easier to focus when there are fewer distractions and everyone has gone to sleep, she said.

However, “sleep deprivation exacerbates all your ADHD tendencies,” said Beth Main, a certified ADHD coach who helps individuals with ADHD develop the skills, systems and strategies they need to overcome their challenges and achieve success.

It hampers concentration and executive functions, such as organizing, decision-making, attention to detail and planning, Main said. You’ll likely miss things that are right in front of you, and make errors in your work, she said. Sleep deprivation also compromises your immune system, Olivardia added.

Adults with ADHD are prone to sleep problems and sleep disorders, he said. So it’s important to take your sleep seriously, and protect it."

Read the full article at http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/08/02/3-surefire-strategies-that-dont-work-for-adhd/.

ADHD Solutions is moving up!

 View from Beth's officeMoving up in the world - literally!

ADHD Solutions is now located at 3920 Market Street, Suite 201 Camp Hill, PA 17011.

The new phone number is (717)730-2144.

It was wonderful working at home for all those years, but it's time to move on. And check out the view! That's not a picture on the wall -  the office overlooks the Conodoquinet Creek.  It's a great place for coaching and therapy.

Speaking of therapy, I completed my master's degree in counseling, passed the National Counselor Exam (NCE), and am now a National Certified Counselor (NCC).  I'll continue to maintain my Board Certified Coach (BCC) designation as well. Very excited about this new credential, and looking forward to helping more people with with the full array of issues that go along with having ADHD!

Featured on ADDitudemag.com: How to finish what you started

For adults with ADHD, keeping a mental to-do list just doesn't work. It takes up brain bandwidth you could be using for other things. You forget stuff, and then remember while you're in the middle of doing something else. You jump up to do it, and never go back to the original thing. Your natural tendency for impulsivity takes over, and that can be stressful. Detailed planning is the answer.

Often, adults with ADHD only try new organizational and time management strategies when they feel immense pressure — at work, at home, in social situations — that makes them feel they need to change something, right away. But, organizing under pressure can't be done. You need to disconnect from feelings of, "If I screw this up..." and take some quiet time to do the organizational thinking...

Read the rest on additudemag.com: http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/154/slide-1.html?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=April

Now offering psychotherapy!

I've been working hard on my master's degree in counseling, so I can help people with the full array of issues that can go along with having ADHD. Things like low self-esteem, hopelessness, negative programming from childhood, and even co-existing conditions like depression and anxiety. After nearly two years of hard work, I've accrued enough credit hours towards my master's that I can begin offering psychotherapy in addition to ADHD coaching. Since I am not yet licensed (that will take another two years), I am working under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor (LPC). This is standard in Pennsylvania and many other states - therapists work under supervision until they accrue 3000 hours working with clients. Unfortunately, I'm not yet able to accept insurance. However, I am offering reduced rates to make up for it. Contact me to schedule a free consultation and we'll figure out the best way for us to work together.

A Smoothie with No Added Sugar is Still As Tasty

Some people think smoothies are a great way to get a serving or two of fruit. Others criticize them for their high sugar content. It’s true, a lot of the smoothies you get at restaurants have a bunch of added sugar in the form of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Sugar, of course, is the enemy of anyone with ADHD who wants to get anything done. Sure, it gives you a quick burst of energy, but it’s followed a very short time later by a sugar crash, and you’re worse off than you were before. So try to limit your consumption. (BTW, I also try to avoid artificial sweeteners even though they’re supposed to be safe – just my own personal bias.)

Here’s a tip: At some places, you can ask them to not add any sugar to your smoothie. You don’t really need it, fruit already is sweet enough. Today I had an Island Green smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café, with spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, and banana, hold the sugar please. Delicious! I didn’t even miss the (extra) sugar.

 

Today was a lousy focus day.

It happens. Even ADHD coaches have lousy focus days sometimes.

I’ve been taking short-acting Adderall on an as-needed basis for the last few months. Grad school is incredibly demanding – there’s a ton of reading and writing involved. I’m a full-time student and a full-time ADHD coach. Spending time with my family is important to me, as are self-care activities like exercise and a good night’s sleep. Reading is particularly challenging for me. So I simply don’t have time to read the same paragraph four times and still not know what it said.

What I’ve noticed about Adderall is that although it can help you focus, you will focus on whatever you set your sites on and nothing else. It’s like using a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun. But you have to aim the gun at the right thing. So if I get the idea in my head that my web site needs to be revamped, for example, I will be able to immerse myself in my HTML code for four hours straight. Sadly, that was not today’s target. I lost a good chunk of time to a project that isn’t even on my to-do list.

But! I’m a coach. Coaches don’t beat anyone up for less-than-stellar performance. We ask, “What did you learn from this? And what will you do differently tomorrow?” What will I do? Tomorrow, I am going to be more intentional with my time. I am going to identify my most important task, select my first action item, fire up my “let’s get focused” music, maybe take an Adderall, and get to work on the task I selected. Perhaps most importantly, I will NOT say “Let me just”. Once I get in the groove, I know I will be able to stay there.

I see staying focused as two-part process. First, you have to prime your brain for optimal focus. This involves sleep, diet, exercise, maybe medication. A distraction-free environment is important too. Second, you have to get off the fence and decide what you’re going to do. Figure out what’s most important, and commit to doing it and nothing else. That is my recipe for focus success. I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s certainly NOT easy when you have ADHD. But it is possible if you do these two things.

Tomorrow is a new day!

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