The ADHD Homestead

Building a good life with ADHD.

Month: August 2015

How yoga makes me a better parent (and everything else, too)

As a stay-at-home mom, making time for my own mental and physical health is a challenge. However, nothing is more important for an ADHD parent than taking care of yourself — and keeping your symptoms from ruling the day.

The benefits of a regular yoga practice extend far beyond the mat, making me a better mom (and person) all day long.

Here are just a few ways yoga has changed my life and helped me manage my ADHD.

yoga

I can find stillness anywhere

ADHD predisposes me to overwhelm. I tend to freak out if there’s too much coming at me at once. Not exactly Parent of the Year material, right?

Yoga has taught me to accept myself and find a strong, steady place within.

I’m finally learning to achieve a state of calm independent of what’s happening around me. After years of practicing yoga, that moment still feels precious and fleeting, but at least I know it exists. I know which mental muscles I need to strengthen.

I can regain my balance after a fall

As my favorite yoga teacher once told me, falling is great. It’s how we learn our limits

Yoga has taught me not only how to fall, but how to get up, regain my balance, and try again. Even if I don’t look good standing on one leg.

Family life with ADHD — especially when more than one person has it — creates an ideal space for chaos and blame. Sometimes we mess up, just like sometimes we fall out of a balancing pose in yoga class.

I can be strong and good, even when I’m overwhelmed, even when I’ve lost control. Knowing this gives me the strength to forgive myself and move on.

I’m more mindful

If you’re looking for some all-natural relief from your ADHD symptoms, this is it. Yoga combines exercise with mindfulness meditation, both proven to improve brain health.

Yoga allows me to inhabit my body 100%. It quiets my ADHD brain’s frantic activity, if only for a moment.

From this place of calm, I’ve learned that yoga — and, by extension, life — is as much about holding back as pushing forward, as much about staying in the moment as it is about flow. When we’re mindful, we observe our current state. When we advance in yoga practice, we push ourselves to our limits, but not too far.

Cultivating this awareness and control has improved so many aspects of my life, especially those hit hardest by my ADHD.

I’m becoming okay with discomfort

I describe my ADHD as the “ping pong” variety: I rarely fully experience one thing before bouncing to the next.

It’s tempting to shy away from intense, uncomfortable sensations in our minds or bodies. We may even do this to cope with ADHD’s hypersensitivity.

Once, I attended a somewhat unconventional class that overwhelmed my heart, mind, and body with sensation — I couldn’t shy away. I breathed, sank deeper into the stretches, and felt my body open up in ways I never knew it could. I stayed in one place and paid attention to my feelings. Eventually, I cried.

Yoga teaches us surrender and not hesitation; strength and stillness and not fidgeting or running away. It broadens the ADHD brain’s horizons. As a result, I’m more present in my everyday life, not just on the mat.

I know tiny adjustments change everything

ADHD’ers tend to think BIG, even though “big” usually translates to “impossible to execute” in the real world. Lasting change needs to be sustainable, not sparkly.

Sure, my academic mind has learned this through reading Mini Habits, among other things, but in my heart I’ve learned it through yoga. Specifically, those moments when a good teacher gives me a tiny adjustment that changes everything. A challenging pose suddenly feels strong and effortless and right, thanks not to brute force, but a deceptively simple tweak.

An important lesson for every ADHD household, don’t you think?

How about you? Do you practice yoga, or have you tried it in the past? What keeps you standing on solid ground?

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Stop waiting for a good time to fix it

I’ve been looking forward to preschool.

First and foremost, I feel compelled to point out, because R. will love it. He’s smart and extroverted and he recently asked me to read Maisy Goes to Preschool four times in a row.

I’ve also been counting the days for my own sake. I feel totally scattered, behind on everything, and exhausted by the needs of an ADHD household. Surviving until preschool became my primary goal.

stop waiting

I put all my eggs in that basket: soon, I’d gain four hours per week in a cafe with my laptop. Alone.

Of course, ADHD never gives me a good basket to put my eggs in. The bottom fell out last week, when I received a welcome letter from R.’s preschool listing his first day a full two and a half weeks later than I’d anticipated.

This wasn’t my first time at the “I just have to keep my head above water until _________” rodeo. Still, my reaction wasn’t great.

It stings, when you’ve switched into a time-bound survival mode, to watch the rescue boat disappear back over the horizon.

This experience reminded me why survival mode is a bad idea.

My approach: if you’re struggling and something isn’t working for you, change it.

Now.

If you don't like your fate AIDA

Sure, extenuating circumstances happen. But more often than not, we ADHD’ers create a perpetual state of extenuating circumstances. We erect barriers to productivity like it’s our job. The challenge is to figure out what we can do right now.

If you’ve been wallowing in a pit of chaos and discouragement, ask yourself: how can I make my current situation work for me? What small thing can I do right now? How can I take matters into my own hands instead of waiting for external factors to change?

In other words, if you don’t like your life, change it. Even if you can only manage tiny, tiny stepsDon’t wait for change to come to you, and don’t leave your own happiness and productivity in the hands of fate.

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19 ways I waste time on the internet

19 ways

  1. Replying to email threads when I’m not the expert, have nothing to add, and/or should’ve let someone else reply instead
  2. Reading LiveJournal posts I wrote as a college freshman
  3. Crafting a detailed rebuttal to someone’s post on Facebook, then deleting it because I “shouldn’t be wasting my time on this”
  4. Scrolling through my sister’s Instagram friends for no reason
  5. Reading celebrity news, even though I don’t care about celebrity news
  6. Looking at real estate listings in my city, even though we have no plans to move anytime soon
  7. Looking at real estate listings for other cities, even though we really have no plans to move out of the area anytime soon
  8. Stirring the pot on a Facebook conversation that doesn’t pertain to me
  9. Writing a one-star Goodreads review that gets my point across while still being polite and civil
  10. Adding to Pinterest boards for defunct renovation projects
  11. Aimlessly scrolling through my Pinterest main feed, pinning anything that strikes my fancy
  12. Trying to remember why I even went to Pinterest in the first place (oh, right, to grab a recipe, because 40 minutes ago I was working on a shopping list)
  13. Looking at photos of tattoos inspired by classic literature
  14. Writing what I’m sure will be widely recognized as the world’s most helpful Amazon review
  15. Stalking my high school classmates on Facebook
  16. Reformatting someone else’s Google Document because I assume they want it to look [my version of] presentable
  17. Wordsmithing an email when a quick phone call would suffice
  18. Drafting a blog post I’ll later forget to finish/publish
  19. Disappearing down a rabbit hole of Twitter hashtags that, you guessed it, don’t really pertain to me

Alright, I know you have a few. What would you add to the list?

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My monthly e-news is up and running!

This weekend, I sent out the first edition of The ADHD Homestead‘s monthly e-newsletter. I’m really pleased to make this fun, simple communication tool available to those of you who prefer an occasional email over checking this site for new posts.

Click on the preview below to see August’s e-news, subscribe to the mailing list, and share with a friend. Or you can just use the mailing list sign-up form in this page’s sidebar.

A note about the mailing list: when you sign up, it’s for a monthly digest of top content. That’s it. I promise never to share your information with others or clutter your inbox with too much fluff.

ADHD homestead e-news

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Book Review: Mini Habits

 

audiobook-copyI understand if you read my book reviews every month and think, “yeah, okay lady, but here’s the problem: I don’t really read.”

But you need to read Stephen Guise’s Mini Habits. Not just to read more — though that might happen, too — but to change your life, and fast. The audio version will take you less than four hours, and the print version checks in at under 150 pages. You have no excuse not to give it a try.

Mini Habits was such an inspiring read, I talked about it to everyone and anyone who would listen. I bought a copy for a friend just because.

Mini Habits will be revolutionary for many ADHD readers because it removes motivation from our habit-forming equation. If you’re still relying on feeling motivated to go to the gym, Guise insists, it’s only a matter of time before you fail.

If you have ADHD, you don’t need a book to tell you that. You may need a book to tell you success is within (even) your reach.

What’s a mini habit?

Guise’s simple trick is to reduce your habit to the tiniest possible steps — and keep it there. His inspiration for Mini Habits came from his own success with the one push-up challenge. When one push-up per day morphed into the workout routine he’d previously failed to establish, he knew he was onto something.

Once you remove barriers to entry, you often find yourself willing and able to do far more than the minimum. Now that I’m on the floor for one push-up, for example, why not just do 10?

For someone who often can’t find motivation even for enjoyable activities, a mini habit (or two or three) may alter the course of your life.

How to create a mini habit

Guise recommends attempting only a small handful of habits at a time. I’m notoriously overzealous, so I chose three right off the bat. They are:

  • Open my novel manuscript once daily
    (I couldn’t set a word count goal because I’m editing a years-old draft)
  • Open my blog dashboards once daily
  • Get into downward-facing dog once daily

The most challenging aspect of creating my mini habits was, and continues to be, keeping them small. I struggle not to feel like a cheater when I open my manuscript and close it again without changing a word. I wanted to commit to more than one measly yoga pose.

On this point, Guise (and my husband, who I’ve enlisted as my in-house reminder) is firm: keep mini habits small. If it feels stupid — aka “stupid small” — you’re doing it right. Go bigger and you might feel good today, but mini habits must be attainable even when you’re sick, tired, demoralized, or otherwise having the worst day ever. No matter what, you must be able to experience success every day.

Smaller habits, it turns out, do net bigger results: I’ve been more productive with my writing and even finished my edits ahead of schedule for my monthly critique group. I can now hold crow pose for a whole three seconds, and I’m working up to a headstand in yoga.

Most importantly, I’m experiencing a brand-new feeling: sticking with something. This, Guise claims, is “training to believe in yourself.” It’s something we ADHD’ers desperately need.

The bottom line

Mini Habits is short, conversational, and simple. Nothing Guise suggests feels overwhelming or out of reach, as is so often the case in self-help literature. Not once did I dismiss advice by saying, “yeah, but I have ADHD.”

In fact, the biggest threat from ADHD is my tendency to bite off more than I can chew. Mini habits aren’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel good to tell your friends, “I’m committed to opening my manuscript and looking at it every day.” Mini habits are as much an exercise in keeping myself in check as anything else.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy right now and share your mini habits in the comments.

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Former art student seeks minimalist lifestyle; giant paintings intervene

Last week, I opened my Feedly to a fun surprise: my question was featured on the Unclutterer blog’s Ask Unclutterer column! As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big advocate of minimalist lifestyles, especially for ADHD adults and families.

Having experienced the rewards of minimizing, it now brings its own little dopamine rush. It’s like a game! But for the past few months, I’ve been struggling with a big puzzle: what to do with my old drawings, paintings, and prints left over from art school.

Here’s my dilemma as described in Ask Unclutterer:

I have a bachelors degree in fine arts. Even though I graduated what seems like a lifetime ago, many of my old drawings, paintings, and prints lurk in a basement closet. I recently framed a pair of lithographs to hang over the couch, and they are a delight. However, I live in a relatively small house and have no desire to upsize any time soon, so even if everything felt worthy of public display, I wouldn’t have space for it. Some of my paintings are so big, I’m not sure I know anyone with a large enough home to accommodate them.

To my delight, the answer to my question, while not clean cut, included plenty of tips for storing, gifting, or creating a display rotation for my art. I highly recommend reading the original post. Much of the information applies to sentimental clutter in general, not just old drawing studio homework.

As for me, I’m still puzzling — for now. I’d love to hear your stories!

Do you have any sentimental items that you don’t use or display, but can’t seem to part with?

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