Mar 30

Just do it! Just do it??? Don’t tell me to “just” anything!!!!

My coach Andrew Lewis sent out his newsletter the other day, and in it he mentioned the derision that the slogan “just do it” tends to produce in most people with ADHD. He’s right!!

Where do I start? There’s “just”. And “do”. And “it”.

There’s no “just” about “doing” “it”! First of all, you have to decide what the “it” is. What, out of all the rich myriad of possibilities that your wonderfully connected associative network of a memory suggests to you, are you going to address?

Then, you have to decide what you are going to “do” to that “it”. Or whatever other action you feel like carrying out.

And then, and this is the really difficult bit, you have to “do it”. “Just” doesn’t feature on the same planet here.

Let’s suppose you’re really up and activated, have had your coffee, got a good night’s sleep, in other words, you’re on good form. How do you gather your skitter-scattering attention on to the thing you’re just doing for long enough to actually get somewhere with it? How do you get over the first 45 seconds? Once you’ve done that, of course, you’re into hyperfocus and away. But try getting there!

More often than not, you’re not at all activated. You need to “do” something to activate yourself before you can “do it”. And now we’re into circular territory. How do you do something to get yourself activated to do something when you’re not initially activated?? Where does the impetus for that first “do” come from?

Well, you can get someone to hassle you — your mum, a friend. You can jump up and down and increase your activation level — this does sometimes actually work. (See blog post on IF inactivated THEN go for a walk. This is a rule, not a discussion point. Coat on, out of the house NOW!) You can get a coach and practise with them developing your own motivation — and this often includes doing something fun and enjoyable first (shock, horror) so that you finally swing into action, your interest and arousal levels increase, and then you can contemplate AND carry out the transition to the thing you’re going to “just” do.

So simple. Why don’t you just do it?

Add to my list of things that get me/you activated in the comments below. Please!! I’m always on the lookout for new ones.

Mar 22

When your activation temperature is approaching absolute zero, whaddaya do?

One of the most common problems that my friends with ADHD (and me too) tell me they have is getting motivated. They have things that they want to do but they just can’t make themselves do them. (Actually, delete that word “just” from the previous sentence. See a later blog post.) We all talk about this as a problem of motivation but actually it’s more like a problem of activation. Once you get going, on practically anything, you can almost always get going on something else. The something else is likely to be something that you ought to do but don’t really want to do, but it could be something that’s enjoyable but that  just doesn’t instantly grip you at that moment.

So what to do?

My answer is to go for a walk. It’s actually a rule. IF can’t decide what to do THEN go for a walk.

Obviously it’s good for you, right? It gets the blood flowing, gets some fresh air into your lungs, it gets you into a different environment, it gets the activation and alertness levels up instantly because somehow the world just impinges on your senses so much more noisily when you’re outside. Even if it’s cold and raining outside, I still feel better. It might be because I’m stomping around having an argument with myself or my imaginary friends 🙂 — actually, they’re usually my imaginings of real people and the arguments are purely hypothetical — or, more usually, it’s because my attention is on something else – the outside world – and no longer on the world going around inside my head.

And then usually the tasks I want to/have to do magically organise themselves into three or four groups and then I know what I’m going to do first when I get back home.

Do you find this rule useful, or do you have similar rules of your own that tell you what to do when you’re in the pit of inactivation? Do tell in the comments below.

Jan 28

Green smoothies — quick food AND vegetables without noticing

Food. The perennial problem. What to eat? By the time I realise I’m hungry it’s too late to do proper cooking. And I’m really bad at eating greens even though I know they’re good for me. If it’s green , it’s got magnesium in it, right? Yup. (See the amazing Webexhibits online museum, curated by Michael Douma: Why do some plants appear green?) And magnesium takes part in umpteen reactions in my brain/body. So I need it. But veg is often a bit of a pain to prepare.

Well, I just discovered green smoothies. In fact, I was getting myself inspired by Fabienne Fredrickson, and there she is, in her office, with a green smoothie. That set me off on a net trawl, and here’s the result.

  • A good handful of berries — strawberries, blueberries, cherries, fresh or frozen — whatever the supermarket is selling under the heading of Black Forest Fruits, or Summer Fruits or whatever in the freezer section
  • A small banana
  • About a cup of rice milk
  • Powders of your choice — whey protein, vits/mins, D-ribose (for de novo synthesis of ATP)
  • A heaped teaspoon of cocoa (it looks like chocolate milk shake in the end, so why not make it taste like chocolate milk shake)
  • Two good handsful of spinach.

Put them in the blender in the order fruit, liquid, powder, spinach, whizz it all up and drink. Not too quickly! It should hit the sides on the way down, and ideally I “chew” it a bit — basically, swirling it round in my mouth, nice — to get it mixed up with some digestive enzymes.

But Gillian, it’s not green. No, it looks like chocolate. That’s why I added the cocoa. But it does have lots of green in it. To make it green, I guess you have to use green/yellow fruit. Will tell you when I get there.

To be honest, it’s not hugely filling, but I always feel instantly better — more brain power, somehow. And that gives me the chance to prepare something a bit more substantial to eat.

BTW, the link to Fabienne’s green smoothie video is here and you have to watch for about 3 minutes or so, till she gets back to her office, to see the smoothie. It’s a sales pitch so be aware of that fact — I think she’s OK, though.

Last thing. You can’t sit around and relax while you drink the smoothie. You have to wash up the blender straight away. Otherwise it will sit for days and there will be no more smoothies.

I’d be really interested to know if you tried out the smoothie and what you thought of it, or if you have more recipes! Do leave a comment below.

Nov 16

Sometimes you have to use logic

I felt sick. Totally sick. As though my body hadn’t seen a vegetable in weeks. I’d actually just eaten a carrot. But I felt awful. I had a bunch of things to do, was recovering from a virus, felt weak and weedy, I knew I needed to get the food situation sorted out (plan some meals, buy some food, implement the plans…), I wanted to make some gluten-free bread so I could have scrambled egg on toast for breakfast, the kitchen was a tip, the counters cluttered, no room for the bread machine. I felt sick and overwhelmed.

It felt as though my brain was skittering around all over the place looking for somewhere to hide. I wanted to lie down and sleep. (Sleep? Before 2am?)

Guess what? I recognised this situation. Done it before. Hurray. There was something I could do. But I didn’t feel like doing anything. Recognised that situation. Done that one before too. The answer was unpalatable. Use logic.

I knew it wouldn’t take that long to do the washing up. I knew that when it was all washed and in the drainer it would be quite a small amount. I’d been in the same situation many times before. I hate washing up after all.  Logic said: do the washing up; it won’t take long; it won’t actually be that unpleasant; you will feel much better afterwards; between now and starting it you will kick and scream like a grouchy toddler, but that doesn’t negate the truth of points 1 to 4.

So, big breath OUT. Kick, scream, move the first thing out of the sink. Hah, that can go in the dishwasher. Oh, and so can this. And this. OK, hot water, swish out the sink, wipe down the draining board….. and Charlie’s your aunt – it was done. Then, same process. Bread into bread machine, all utensils washed. Dashed to computer to start writing. Feel much better. Can have scrambled egg on toast tomorrow, and that will set me up for the morning and then I can do the next task – clear out the fridge and make a shopping list?

ADDers (oops, almost-ADDers!) run so much on emotion. We absolutely hate doing some really, really trivial things. Boring, to us, makes us kick and scream and want to do absolutely anything else. No, not the washing up! The worst thing on earth! It’s not. Sometimes you have to use logic.

Does anyone else have a similar way of strong-arming themselves into doing something that’s not particularly rewarding? Tell me — leave a comment!