18 Jan How can I learn to better manage after my recent diagnosis of ADHD?
ADHD Diagnosis: Unlocking an Understanding to Help Reach Life Goals
I have great news for you. You have an amazing brain. Your brain is incredible. Your brain is like a Ferrari. Yes, you read correctly. Your brain is like a Ferrari race-car engine. It is very powerful. We know that with the right care, you will win many races in your life. There is one problem though. You have bicycle brakes. Your brakes are not strong enough to control the powerful brain you’ve got. Sometimes, you race straight past places where you mean to stop, or you struggle to process the instructions that you are meant to hear.
How can ADHD be described?
The ADHD brain is like a race car – and every car needs brakes, a steering wheel, and a gas pedal. In this article, we explore this further using the three must-haves of any car – brakes, a steering wheel, and a gas pedal. When ADHD is properly managed and treatment adopted, using a strength-based model, the person can achieve great heights. Keep in mind this does not deny that ADHD carries potentially life-threatening risks and deficiencies — a Ferrari with faulty brakes is scary, no? — but it also seeks out and identifies the talents, interests, and skills upon which the person can build a life of success and joy. Yes, this means individuals with ADHD can achieve great heights – including many individuals we’ve met and read including doctors, lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, managers, CEOs, dreamers, artists, students, innovators, explorers, Hollywood actors, Olympian gold medalists and many, many more.
What are some basic strategies that will go a long way in managing my day-to-day life?
These strategies have been divided into RED, AMBER, and GREEN.
🔴 When you want to slow down your physical or mental hyperactivity with breaks:
- Rest your brain often throughout the day by scheduling breaks.
- Practice meditation to teach the brain to establish “neurological calm”. There is truly no better brake job than your brain.
- Listen to binaural tracks. These are easy to download and helpful in calming the mind.
- Get some physical exercise.
- Decide how long any activity is likely to require and set a timer. Timers are like reminders to be accountable and to prevent you from hyper-focusing down a rabbit hole.
🟠 When you want more direction in your day, use your steering wheel:
- Establish a predictable schedule and routine for yourself and your ADHD child. The brain likes to know “what is next”.
- Determine the high priorities of each day and tackle those priorities first. Your brain generally functions best after sleep, or about 30 minutes after medication if you take any.
- Break down big projects into smaller tasks.
- Work in 20-minute chunks, and then take 10-minute breaks. Keep using that timer if holding to times is a challenge.
- Create a highly visual board or calendar. People with ADHD respond well to visual cues and stimuli.
🟢 When you’re ready to be creative press the gas pedal:
- If you have to do an activity that may be boring, insert some novelty for a dopamine rush.
- Address procrastination by taking any small action. Dedicating 10 minutes towards getting something you want to be done, and see how far 10 minutes goes in terms of motivating you and getting the engine going.
- Enjoy the speed at times. Brainstorm. Be creative. Find a time to let your racecar brain win the championship.
What is a strength-based model and why is this important?
In my professional opinion, individuals of all ages achieve more and feel more motivated and enthusiastic if they believe they can learn what they need to reach their goals and grow into the person they want to become. A growth mindset can be taught and learned by anyone — there are many successful people with ADHD. If you work and study hard, as well as find the right resources, support and scaffold your environment in the best way possible – we really do believe the sky’s the limit! Since there are Nobel, Pulitzer Prize, and Oscar winners who have ADHD, as well as billionaires and CEOs of major companies, that limit is really not an exaggeration.
A diagnosis, even in late adulthood means that you’re one step closer to setting up the necessary supports and learning evidence-based strategies that will help you to achieve your life dreams.
How our team of Psychologists at Positive Wellbeing Psychology can help?
One of our psychologists with a special interest in ADHD, Emily Burton, believes this is a powerful and useful way to explain the ADHD brain. Adopting a strength-based model, which doesn’t deny that ADHD carries potentially life-threatening risks and deficiencies but highlights the talents, interests, drive, and skills upon which a person can build a life of great success and joy.
If you look past the troubling symptoms you too can usually find evidence of one’s strengths and gifts. Professor Russell Barkley has described the neurological underpinning of ADHD as a relative state of disinhibition, giving rise to distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. A person with ADHD experiences difficulty inhibiting incoming stimuli, which causes distractibility, and difficulty inhibiting outgoing impulses, which in turn can cause impulsivity or hyperactivity. It takes a lot of work to develop a person’s talents, this also includes individuals with ADHD. But a strength-based approach fuels such development.