The ADHD Homestead

Building a good life with ADHD.

Category: Health & Wellness (page 1 of 2)

Review: HelloFresh meal delivery

Home-cooked meals nourish our bodies, our minds, and our budget. I have a pretty solid meal planning routine, but this summer I welcomed a little help from meal delivery service HelloFresh.

For the purpose of this review, I used HelloFresh for around six weeks. I received one free box , but all opinions are (as always) my own. This review is based on the veggie box. I tried to keep it concise, but I welcome your questions in the comments.

adhd-in-the-kitchen

Flavors

I enjoyed every HelloFresh meal. The flavors were on point for summer: fresh, light, and seasonal. Many meals were based on our household favorites — beans and rice, quesadillas, stir fry, etc. — but offered a new twist.

ADHD sabotages impulse control, so pre-portioned meals were a plus, especially after overeating on several vacations this summer. However, meals with greens had too many, and some salad-based meals felt too light to stand alone for dinner. I enjoy vegetarian meals, but that doesn’t mean I’m on a diet.

Families with allergies or extreme pickiness should know, HelloFresh doesn’t offer meal preferences unless you order the 3-meal Classic Box. My husband is mildly allergic to tree nuts, but I could usually leave the nuts off his portion.  I don’t recall receiving anything with peanuts, but many meals contained tree nuts, gluten, soy, and/or dairy.

Ease of preparation

HelloFresh boxes are stocked with everything you need to prepare your meals. Expect to stock staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil, but that’s about it. None of the recipes require a microwave (good, because we don’t have one), and all clean up easily without a dishwasher (don’t have one of those, either).

The meals were so easy to prepare, I took HelloFresh on vacation.  There’s no contract and it’s easy to change your delivery address week to week. Changing or pausing the service is no big deal (great for ADHD-affected families, where these details are often overlooked). I had a box delivered to our beach house and combined meals to make a two-course feast for friends.

While I thought preparation was a breeze, my husband found meal preparation “so stressful.” He’s my cooking opposite: he’s a novice, he’s fastidious, and his ADHD makes multi-tasking almost impossible. The recipes were easy, but some required multi-tasking: having two pots on a flame at once, broiling veggies while sauteeing onions, etc. That said, he successfully cooked 2.5 of the 3 meals I assigned him to cook without my help.


HelloFresh changed the way I think about meal preparation. Since the birth of our son, I’ve relied on big batches. I’ll make meat sauce for spaghetti in the crock pot, then freeze it in three-cup portions to use later. My rotation of big batch recipes is big enough to eliminate from-scratch cooking on weeknights.

With HelloFresh, I learned to simplify from-scratch meals and get them underway quickly. Each meal has its own labeled box with ready-to-use ingredients: tiny jars of honey, vinegar, or other condiments; peeled, wrapped cloves of garlic; a single carrot. I had no idea how much time I was spending collecting ingredients, putting containers away, and measuring tablespoons of oil! I plan to save some of those little jars and build my own meal boxes for non-HelloFresh nights.

Freshness

We had a few nasty heat waves last month, and some of our produce arrived in poor shape. On a particularly punishing afternoon, I opened my box to find the food inside already rotting. I’m glad I never ordered a box with meat inside. As long as temperatures didn’t exceed the low 90s, everything arrived fresh.

HelloFresh provided excellent support when I emailed a complaint about this. The representative who wrote back was prompt, friendly, and quite apologetic. She applied a credit to my account for the full cost of my box, even though many of the ingredients had been usable. However, I continued to receive distinctly un-fresh perishables on hot days. Throwing away food makes me sad, and I ended up pausing the service for a week because of the heat. (For reference, our delivery carrier in Baltimore is LaserShip — others’ experience may vary.)

The verdict

Overall, I think I’m hooked. HelloFresh adheres well enough to my pre-existing dietary preferences: simple meals, whole foods, no synthetic dyes, etc. Although I’d love more organics and whole grains, I’m willing to compromise because HelloFresh is so delicious, convenient, and economical.

Though it won’t magically transform a non-cook into the family chef, HelloFresh is a snap compared to a service like Blue Apron. It’s perfect for folks with ADHD who enjoy cooking because meal planning demands so much of our executive functioning.

Interested in trying HelloFresh for yourself? Use the code JACLYNP35 to get $35 off your first box. Tell me what you think (or ask me anything about my HelloFresh experience) in the comments!

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ADHD & personal grooming: do you Epilady?

I rarely talk about products here. When I do, I’m sharing something I find particularly helpful. I haven’t been contacted by Epilady, nor did I get anything for free in exchange for this post.

Personal grooming can be a problem for adults with ADHD. Showering, shaving, clipping toenails, etc. — often, these are tedious, unpleasant tasks. We need to complete them on a schedule. No one with ADHD excels at that.

Hair removal is the bane of my existence. I’m sure a few other women with ADHD feel similarly. My skin is sensitive, I struggle to make time for it, and it’s easy to procrastinate. However, I’ve finally found a solution: an epilator. It’s relatively inexpensive, not too messy, easy to do at home, and lasts longer than a day or two.

#AdultADHD and the value of a long-lasting shave

What’s an epilator?

Epilators — a whole class of shavers, though I’ve only tried the Epilady — look like electric shavers, but work like wax. They remove hair by the root, like a high-speed mechanical tweezer. The manufacturer promises results lasting “up to 4-6 weeks.”

My first pass took over an hour, but didn’t feel more cumbersome than a thorough job with an electric shaver. Subsequent touch-ups took only a few minutes. I’m much more likely to make time for these touch-ups, knowing the results last longer than an electric shaver’s 36-48 hours.

My initial epilation lasted around two weeks — shorter than the claims on the box, but longer than shaving. I suspect people with silkier hair textures will see results closer to the one-month mark, and lighter colors won’t worry as much about stubble.

In any case, I’ve been using my Epilady frequently and with confidence. It irritates my skin less and lasts longer than a regular shave.

Doesn’t it hurt?

You may be thinking, “it sounds like it hurts!” If you’ve ever used an electric shaver and felt it catch, rather than cut, one of your hairs, you already know what a first-time epilation feels like. On the front of my shins, it felt like a constant bee-sting sensation. Afterward, my hair follicles were swollen and red for the rest of the day.

Maybe yoga has taught me to be more in tune with my body, but I needed time to relax after I finished epilating. I felt a little funny: woozy, in the same way I get when my blood pressure runs too low. I drank a lot of water and sat down for a while, and that seemed to help.

On the bright side, subsequent epilations were/are far more comfortable. Two weeks after my first round, I hardly felt it on my shins. Not only that, unlike an electric razor, the Epilady doesn’t irritate my skin. I don’t need to worry about going over the same patch of skin too many times, nor does the humidity (inescapable in our climate in the summer) cause issues.

Why the Epilady is right for this ADHD lady.

I’ve tried pretty much every at-home hair removal technique, with little success. Traditional razors required more time in the shower, and they irritated my skin too much. Inattentive moments led to bleeding cuts. My electric razor caused less irritation up front, but didn’t shave as closely and still caused ingrown hairs. Both provided results that lasted, at most, 48 hours before I had to start the whole process again.

Depilatory creams (e.g. Nair) gave me chemical burns and/or smelled too icky. Wax was messy and painful, which meant I rarely got around to doing it. Some at-home wax kits also irritated my skin, leaving a red rectangle where the wax strip had been.

While the Epilady causes a lot of initial discomfort, that seems to fade quickly. At $70, my Epilady Legend wasn’t the cheapest thing around, but saves a lot of money over disposable products or professional waxing. I also appreciate the option to use it corded or cordless. I forget to charge things, and I’m glad not to need a backup option.

Most of all, I appreciate the convenience. Convenience trumps everything in ADHD households. Without it, important jobs — and certainly shaving one’s legs — don’t get done. Just knowing I won’t have to use it again tomorrow makes me excited to use the Epilady. The long-lasting results give me more leeway on when I “shave.” I spend far less time feeling uncomfortable, either because of skin irritation or pointy stubble.

If you’re willing to endure a painful first day, the Epilady could change your personal grooming routine forever.

Have you tried a product like this? How do you manage the mundane world of personal grooming?

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ADHD & screens: apps to protect our sleep from blue light.

When I first read Paul Bogard‘s The End of Night a couple years ago, hardly anyone was talking about the health effects of blue light. Since then, a number of articles and studies have made the rounds on the internet.

The bottom line: blue-rich light — like the kind emitted by computers, mobile devices, and many fluorescent and LED lights — isn’t good for us. After dark, and especially in the hour or two before bedtime, we should limit exposure to screens and other blue-rich lights.

Easier said than done. Certain behaviors often feel beyond our control. For those of us with ADHD, a hard-and-fast “no screens within an hour of bedtime” habit may be impossible.

blue light apps

Assume you’ll use screens at night, and reduce negative effects.

Knowing my willpower is a finite resource, I scrimp and save wherever possible. I know trying to put my phone and tablet down after 9:00 p.m. every day is a recipe for failure. Sometimes I need to work late to finish a writing project. Other times I get sucked into a mindless, fatigue-induced journey through my Facebook feed. That’s why I use apps to filter blue light out of my computer or mobile device’s display.

For my laptop and desktop computers, I use f.lux, which is available for all major operating systems. F.lux autodetects your location and adjusts your screen based on when the sun rises and sets. It works great out of the box and requires very little know-how beyond downloading and installing a program from the internet.

blue light fyiYou can further configure f.lux to fit your lifestyle by setting your bedtime and wake time. If you’d like to set your location manually, to someplace else — a friend living in Stockholm says this helps with the very long/very short days up there — you can do that, too.

While f.lux is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, users need to root or jailbreak the phone for the app to work. I tried rooting a device once and quickly learned it can be a hyperfocus rabbit hole. Some folks will root a phone as soon as it enters their hands. I no longer crave the super user cred. I try to avoid tinkering that can suck a whole day into the ether.

Newer versions of iOS provide a built-in solution called Night Shift, which is pretty cool. Amazon rolled out a feature called Blue Shade for their Fire tablets last year.

Android users have a number of free or cheap options in the Play Store. I’m currently using Twilight on my devices. Like the desktop version of f.lux, it works right out of the box and auto-adjusts based on sunrise and sunset.

You’re still responsible for going to bed.

Blue light filters aren’t a blank check to stare at a screen all night, but they may help prevent or correct sleep problems. Sometimes we succumb to screen suck, or we get stuck working late to meet a deadline. Screen tinting after dark may minimize long-term effects of these slip-ups.

One thing’s for sure: when it comes to maintaining our circadian rhythms, the ADHD’ers in our household need all the help we can get.

Do you struggle to part with screens at night? Have you tried these apps (or others)? If not, do you think it’s worth a shot?

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Derailment, ADHD, & the Pit of Domestic Despair

Toward the end of March, my immune system sabotaged all my good habits. My son brought home a bug that hardly affected him, but — like the evil kid illness it was —  gave me 12 days of low-grade fever. I muddled through. Mostly. But I didn’t exercise, hardly set foot in my office, and got off track with my daily habits. Clutter piled up and projects stagnated. I lost sight of wellness and productivity and couldn’t imagine either being part of my life again.

I was headed straight for the Pit of Domestic Despair.

Fortunately, I’m aware of ADHD’s time blindness. Though it wasn’t deeply reassuring, I told myself I wouldn’t be sick forever.

I also repeated, over and over, “it’s okay. You’re okay. We’re okay.”

Habits break, systems break, and it’s not the end of the world — or even the good habit.

Or, rather, it doesn’t have to be.

Derailment,ADHD,& thePit of Domestic Despair

“No, thanks” to self-loathing. “Yes, please” to equanimity.

ADHD does more than make it tough to stay on course. Through years of repeated failure, we teach ourselves that failure is inevitable. New habits and projects excite us, but only to a point. By adulthood, our cynicism always lurks in the shadows, reminding us that success is fleeting. Yes, we’re doing it, but only for now. Only until the next time everything falls apart.

I’ve spent years learning to stay organized and form intentional habits, but my most important lesson has been in accepting failure. Everyone gets off track sometimes. Even people without ADHD. The key isn’t staying on the wagon, it’s knowing how to climb back on.

When a habit breaks or a project stagnates or a deadline gets missed, it’s not a confirmation of all my self-doubt and self-criticism. Letting the house get messy one week doesn’t signal a return to my “real” (i.e. unhappy, unfocused, disorganized, unproductive) self. It means I messed up. Or I had a fever for 12 days. It’s just a thing that happened.

This brings me to my favorite word: equanimity. It means remaining neutral in the face of life’s gains and losses, and it’s a skill I’ll be honing for the rest of my life. In this case, it means looking at my messy house and my broken habits, saying, “okay,” and moving on without much fanfare.

There’s usually something beyond Right Now (even if we don’t believe it).

I eventually felt better — obviously. And for the first time, I didn’t spend my first day on the mend beating myself up or lamenting the impossible task in front of me. I just got up and kept going. Slowly.

With the energy I saved by not spinning myself up to a state of intense despair, overwhelm, and self-loathing, I started to dig out of the Pit of Domestic Despair. I (finally) changed the sheets on our bed. I spent a week chipping away at my overflowing inbox. I attacked the accumulated clutter, bit by bit. I refused to start on any projects until I’d gotten back to a workable baseline. I spent my energy getting to a place where I could feel good again.

It’s taken me a long time to learn this. To learn, for example, that instead of sitting in the house and complaining about my bad attitude, I should put on my shoes and go for a run. ADHD is often a problem of inertia. Overcoming inertia, even if we only take one itty-bitty, tiny step, is half the battle.

Everyone gets stuck. The more gracefully we can accept this and move on, the better. ADHD tempts us to believe Right Now is all there is. That makes messy surroundings and broken habits feel overwhelming and permanent. The Pit of Domestic Despair becomes a black hole. It’s taken me almost 32 years, but I’ve finally taken a leap of faith. I don’t always believe something better is waiting around the bend. I’m  just willing to inch my way over there and find out.

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Supplements & natural remedies for ADHD

Recently, I received a reader email asking about supplements and natural remedies for ADHD.

My short answer: buyer beware.

People have many reasons to try supplements: older adults may have concerns about taking stimulants with heart problems. Parents may yearn for an alternative to stimulant medications for their children.

Maybe supplements just feel more “natural.”

Natural they may be, but supplements aren’t necessarily safer or healthier than prescription drugs. Some may even be less safe.

ADHD supplements 101

Supplements: safety not guaranteed

The FDA treats drugs and supplements very differently. From aspirin to amoxicillin, medicines are vetted before hitting the market. Manufacturers must prove their drugs are not only safe, but effective for the conditions they claim to treat.

Compare that to the FDA’s treatment of supplements:

Although FDA has oversight of the dietary supplement industry, it is the supplement manufacturers and distributors that are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they’re marketed…FDA does not review supplements for effectiveness (as it does for prescription and OTC medications) before they enter the market. If the dietary supplement contains a new dietary ingredient, the manufacturer must submit for FDA’s review data on that ingredient’s safety—but not its effectiveness.

source: FDA.gov

Vetting is up to the manufacturer, who profits from selling these products. But that’s okay because it’s natural, right?

Wrong.

“Natural” doesn’t always mean “safe.” Remember: arsenic, cyanide, and lead are natural substances, too. Consumers often mix and match supplements, unaware of how those substances will affect their unique body chemistry.

Getting too much of anything, even an essential nutrient, can harm your body. Some supplements will even alter the effectiveness of other medications.

If you’d like to learn more, the FDA provides a Dietary Supplements 101 overview on their website. NIH also offers guidance on using supplements wisely.

Big Pharma isn’t the only agenda in town

For all the conspiracy theories about “Big Pharma,” many consumers seem to trust supplement manufacturers implicitly. However, they’re also big businesses trying to make a profit. And they’re less accountable for the quality of what they sell.

We, as consumers, need to read everything with a skeptic’s eye. Where there’s money to be made, there’s often bias.

For example: I recommend Dr. Daniel Amen’s Healing ADD from the Inside Out to anyone interested in using supplements to help with ADHD. I also suggest reading with a grain of salt.

Dr. Amen is very knowledgeable and his book contains valuable insights. He’s also selling his own line of specialty supplements (among other things). It’s easy to read the literature and feel like the right combination of dietary supplements will solve all our problems.

Dr. Amen isn’t the only one to discover this niche. Sales of dietary supplements in the U.S. totaled over $30 billion last year. A savvy entrepreneur can put a line of supplements on the market quickly, without the research and development overhead of a drug manufacturer.

Are supplements a no go for ADHD?

Hop online or pick up Healing ADD and you’ll find plenty of anecdotal support for supplements. Maybe you’ll even discover they help ease your own symptoms. How we treat a chemical imbalance in our body is always up to us. I’ve written on this blog about my own experience taking a GABA supplement for migraines and mood swings.

However, we lack evidence that supplements can meet or exceed the effects of traditional ADHD medication for the average person. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

As always, it’s important to look at where various messages are coming from, and who stands to profit from us believing what we read.

Have you tried supplements for ADHD? What was your experience?

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Identity, eyeglasses, and self-improvement

Last week, I had corrective eye surgery.

When my husband first suggested this surgery years ago, I waved it off. I gave excuses ranging from, “I don’t want someone messing with my eyes” to “what if I was the only person in history who was incapable of keeping my eye still for the procedure?”

Really, it was a threat to my identity. Having exceptionally poor vision is part of who I am. It’s something I share with my dad. It’s a fashion statement. It defines how I see the world around me. It’s something that makes an impression and sets me apart. It’s part of the very fabric of my reality.

The same could be said for ADHD.

This relationship to identity can be terribly difficult for others to understand. My husband, born with 20/10 vision, can’t imagine why I wouldn’t want to be able to see like everyone else. Why I’d fear waking up in the morning and being able to see everything in my bedroom.

For those on the outside, refusal to treat crippling ADHD symptoms can seem like madness.

Despite our impairments from ADHD, treating and managing it can, to some, feel like a threat to our identity. It requires us to shed our skin, to give up membership in some kind of weird club. Many people — myself included — fear starting ADHD medication for the first time because we worry we’ll lose a part of ourselves we actually like.

Just because we have the means to improve our lives doesn’t mean the choice is always easy. Altering a fundamental piece of our identity is scary. Any change is scary. Even though removing a functional impairment should feel like a 100% win, it’s not always.

Because my glasses make everything appear smaller, I have trouble seeing tiny things. I almost always ask my husband to remove splinters for me. I like that. I don’t usually accept much help or care, but it’s nice to be cared for every once in a while.

Maybe some of us cling to the impairments wrought upon us by ADHD, too.

Maybe it’s easier for us to say “I have no social skills” or “I don’t care about stupid paperwork” or “I’m just a terrible friend.” Anything else would force us to admit we’re working hard — and still failing.

Sometimes our ADHD can provide a certain level of security. Others know what to expect from us. We know what to expect from ourselves.

But just because we’ve taught ourselves — or been told by others — this is how we fit into the world doesn’t mean we’re stuck here. Just because change is scary doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And if we’re disappointed in ourselves today, it’s okay to admit we’re trying.

Honestly, my adjustment to ADHD medication felt a lot more natural than my recovery from this surgery: more like putting on a pair of glasses for the first time. I’m trying to take the long view, though, tough as that may be for someone like me. In both cases, it’s a leap that leads to long-term quality of life improvement.

And if I can give that to myself…why not try?

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Conquering the automatic “I have ADHD & I suck” response

I love using the line, “I’m bad at that” (or some variation thereof). The underlying message being, funny story: I have ADHD and I suck at some things.

I’m not proud of this.

In all fairness, it’s true. However, I suspect many of us use this mentality to avoid certain tasks and responsibilities. We use it as a reason not to challenge ourselves.

For years, I’ve proudly labeled myself “not a runner.” Though I might give you an excuse about sore joints, or a proclivity for excessive sweating, or the fact that running in hot weather makes me feel puffy, the biggest obstacle is in my head: I’m bad at creating and sticking to habits. I’ve long thought I could only maintain a running habit by running every day.

 

trail runner photo

I never called this perfectionism because I thought it was just the cold hard facts. The first missed day marks the beginning of the end, and I don’t run again for years.

Then I picked up Stephen Guise‘s new(ish) book, How to be an Imperfectionistand it opened my eyes to perfectionism’s toxicity for ADHD adults.

ADHD’ers seem like unlikely perfectionists. Our lives are swimming in imperfection, littered with screw-ups. And yet, perfectionism gives us an excuse, a reason to stay paralyzed.

Guise describes three primary ways perfectionism can paralyze us. All apply to my aversion to running.

  • Context: without the perfect context, we can’t possibly succeed.
    “Running before breakfast is best for me, but it’s dark outside! Maybe after daylight savings time ends…”
    “I don’t own any running pants — only yoga pants.”
  • Quality: we must make sure we’ll be able to do it exactly right.
    Couch to 5K is embarrassing — there’s so much walking, I don’t even feel like I can say I went for a run.”
    “I don’t think I can commit to daily runs right now.”
  • Quantity: we define success only as meeting or exceeding an arbitrary numeric goal.
    “I bet I can’t even run a mile without stopping anymore.”
    “If I don’t elevate my heart rate to 120 beats per minute for 30 minutes, I shouldn’t even bother.”

imperfectionist cover artQuantifiable goals — like “I want to run for 30 minutes without stopping” or “I want to run every day” — give us something concrete to shoot for, but they also quantify failure. Not meeting your goal discredits all your hard work.

In the end, it’s easier to cling to my identity as someone who’s “not a runner” than to figure out how to make regular exercise work for me long-term.

Running, even under the guidance of a program like C25K, requires major league habit-forming skills. ADHD’ers endure constant blows to our self-image, and many of us will choose the couch as our fear of failure kicks in.

Guise points to insecurity as a major precursor to perfectionism:

Those who are secure in themselves are less perfectionistic because they have a positive affirmation bias, which means they’ll assume good things about themselves before considering negative things.

We’re so beaten down by a lifetime of failure, of broken (good) habits, of disappointment in ourselves. Why wouldn’t we turn to perfectionism for protection? Why wouldn’t we seek out explanations for why our failure — or failure to even try in the first place — was preordained, out of our control?

A week ago, I bought the C25K app. I went running in my yoga pants (a surprisingly good stand-in for running pants), in the dark, and I obeyed the app’s commands to walk and run in short intervals. I succeeded in running three times in one week, which is both trickier and more sustainable than running every day. I promised to be kind to myself, to accept any small step in the right direction as better than nothing.

Because it is. Even if we know we’re going to mess up, it’s okay to try. When we do mess up — and we will — it’s okay to try again.

I challenge you to do something, anything, that you’ve been avoiding due to the kinds of perfectionism listed above. Give yourself permission to do a crappy job. Get out there and take one step closer to where you want to be. Eventually, you’ll get there, but only if you have the courage to start — and restart — an imperfect journey.

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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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Book Review: Better Than Before

betterthanbefore_gretchenrubinI read a lot of books in the self-help realm. My favorites are concise, informative, practical, and well-researched.

Gretchen Rubin‘s Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Liveswhile well-researched, didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for. I’ve heard it described as a “self-help memoir,” and that sounds about right.  Readers really get to know the author in the context of her social and family relationships.

Some may find this makes a book about forming good habits — an intimidating topic for us ADHD’ers — more approachable. For my part, the personal references and stories felt cumbersome and distracting. While a book like Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct inspires the reader with non-stop, super-useful facts about the science of willpower, Better Than Before takes a meandering route. We read transcripts of personal conversations between the author and her associates, follow Rubin’s own personal habit journey, and learn about her research process.

This left me less inspired to take specific action, but more mindful of how I think about — and talk myself out of — my habits.

Most useful to ADHD’ers will be the chapters on self-knowledge. It helps to learn how to use your natural tendencies to your advantage when forming new habits. I also appreciated the attitude reflected in the title. We’re not striving for perfection, and we can be guaranteed we’ll never find it, but we can learn to define success (for today) as “better than before.”

Accepting the idea of small steps and working with, not against, your brain will make habit formation feel less intimidating for ADHD adults.

At the same time, I struggled to keep track of Rubin’s Tendencies and Strategies. Actionable information tended to get lost in the ruminations and personal anecdotes. ADHD readers may have trouble pulling out the key points. Rubin offers plenty of tips for the easiest-to-handle Tendencies, including her own rare Upholder nature, but doesn’t offer much advice for those with habit-averse natures. Her take on Rebels seems to be this: either you’ll form the habit or you won’t. Likewise, she often points out potential pitfalls for a given Tendency, but comes up short on workarounds.

Better Than Before isn’t exactly dense, though, and I was able to read it quickly. Even if it doesn’t give you a magic bullet for habit-forming success, it may help get you in the right frame of mind.

For those ADHD’ers who don’t love to read, I wouldn’t pad your reading list with this one. You’ll be better off choosing a book that’s more to the point and better-organized to get the most bang for your buck.

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ADHD-challenged wardrobe: my 30-year quest for great shoes

sensory sensitivities and shoes graphicI talk about products I like all the time, but today I’m going to give you a deal on a pair of shoes for people who can’t stand shoes. You may have noticed, I don’t usually do brand partnerships or product promotions. I’m honestly so in love with these shoes I wanted to make it easier for you all to try them.

To that end, let’s talk about ADHD, sensory sensitivities, and the wardrobe nightmares these things create for us. Then I’ll give you a coupon code for a pair of barefoot sandals, which I swear I forget I’m wearing half the time. For me, that’s saying a lot.

ADHD, sensory sensitivities, and wardrobe strife

Dr. Wes Crenshaw opens Chapter 10 of his book, I Always Want to Be Where I’m Notwith a charming story about a patient who yanked off her bras as soon as she walked in the door and scattered them all over the house. “It’s common for ADD kids to be sensitive,” he says, “to irritations, tags, bras, noise, [etc.]”

Though the area needs more study, sensory processing problems are more common in people with ADHD. Certain sounds — or just too much sound — may grind your gears. Or maybe you insist on the highest thread-count sheets because everything else is too scratchy.

The quest for the perfect shoe: seen and not felt

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I’ve always taken issue with shoes. If you mention the phrase “inappropriate footwear” to anyone in my immediate family, you’ll see what I mean.

I spent a lot of time barefoot as a kid, listened to frequent warnings from my mother about how I was going to hurt my feet if I didn’t get shoes with better support, and wore flip flops to work even as a post-college grown-up.

I eventually discovered Vibram FiveFingers, which felt more comfy than shoes that boxed in my toes.

Then I found Gladsoles. They’re barefoot sandals suited for hiking, running, yoga, walking around town, and everything in between. Every pair is unique and custom cut to your foot’s size and shape. I bought a pair before our Florida vacation this spring and haven’t worn another pair of shoes since (except to mow the lawn, when I wear my FiveFingers).

When I walk in my Gladsoles, it’s like being barefoot. I can feel every bump in the road, and — unlike flip flops — they stay secure on my feet without any toe-curling or yucky blisters.

Disclaimer: there’s been a lot of debate over whether barefoot shoes are actually good for your feet. I don’t 100% endorse barefoot shoes like Vibram FiveFingers because I’ve hurt my feet in them, though I don’t know how. GladSoles are different. I’m going to give them my biggest possible endorsement: they’re the only shoes that haven’t left me with sore feet after a day at Disney World. Not only were my feet not sore, I came home and said to myself, you know, I feel like I could take a walk.

Try GladSoles at a discount

If you don’t like the feel of shoes on your feet, give GladSoles a try. They’re a small company dedicated to making your feet happy. Men, women, and children alike can make GladSoles work for them by learning new ties and mixing and matching lace and lock colors.

I’m sensitive to the fact that many ADHD’ers struggle with money. Custom-cut sandals can feel kind of extravagant at a price point of $50 or more, so I reached out to the owner of GladSoles and asked how I could lessen the cost for my readers.

I’m super pleased to offer you 17% off your order at GladSoles.com by entering the coupon code ADHDHOMESTEAD at checkout. If your relationship with shoes has been as troubled as mine, I hope this helps you free your feet!

Update 7/6/2016: Over a year later, I still love my GladSoles. I wear my FiveFingers in the colder months, for running, and whenever I need closed-toe shoes. For everything else, the GladSoles have it. They go everywhere with me.

I found my original pair needed frequent adjustment/retying, and one of the laces eventually tore through the sole. I ordered a new pair and tried to be more careful with my foot tracing. My new GladSoles fit much more securely and have held up great.

To that end, I recommend taking extra care to trace your foot accurately. It can make the difference between an okay experience and a shoe that feels like part of your foot.

My new pair is the GladSoles Eco, made from upcycled tires. I love the idea of this, and the sandal has an excellent grip.

Have you found a favorite pair of barefoot/minimalist shoes? I’d love to hear all about them, especially if you have suggestions for the winter!

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