The ADHD Homestead

Building a good life with ADHD.

Tag: gardening

The zen of ADHD gardening

Yesterday marked the official start of gardening season here in Baltimore. While some may gripe about the return of weeding and mowing, it comes not a moment too soon for me.

zen of ADHD gardening FB

Remember what I said about exercising through play?

If that doesn’t float your boat, or if you lack age-appropriate playmates, try gardening. Whenever I need an extra dose of focus, calm, and positive energy, I start with the backyard.

It’s no surprise that ADHD adults benefit from getting their hands dirty. In addition to brownie points with your spouse, you get:

  1. A free, productive workout.
    Unlike a jog or a trip to the gym, mowing the lawn or digging up the garden creates immediate, visible results. A freshly weeded flower bed or an appreciative spouse will help reinforce the behavior and motivate you to get out there more frequently. So will the sense that you’re actually doing something — a feeling you won’t get from 30 minutes of treadmill running. For a bonus, consider using manual lawn tools whenever possible. We have a relatively small yard, and I can’t get enough of my manual reel mower. If you don’t want to give up the power push mower, try turning off the self-propelling feature.
    green therapy for your ADHD
  2. All-natural relief from your ADHD symptoms.
    Though most research has focused on children, there are strong indications that acute physical activity improves executive function enough to serve as a complementary treatment for ADHD. Outdoor physical activity provides a double win because exposure to “green” or natural settings may further reduce ADHD symptoms.If you rely on stimulant medication to do the heavy lifting, you may be amazed at the impact increased physical activity and outdoor time can have on your life. Every little bit helps!
  3. A channel for your fidgeting impulses.
    Are you the dinner host who gets up from the table every two minutes to refill water, clear plates almost before your guests finish eating, or look for a missing pickle fork? I feel this way when my kid plays outside. I avoid sitting still by pulling stray weeds, filling planters, pruning bushes, and raking leaves.
  4. Instant gratifcation…
    There’s nothing like surveying the fruits of your labor. The finish line is always in sight, and once you get there, you get a nice dopamine rush when you look at all the work you’ve just done.
  5. …and a project that teaches you to wait.
    That said, you can’t rush a garden. Once you plant your seeds, you have to wait for them to sprout. No amount of impatience, all-nighters, or meddling will speed them up. Just don’t forget to mist them with water while you’re obsessively checking them every afternoon. And gardening doesn’t just require patience while the plants grow. Gardening teaches you to slow down and be gentle with those little seedlings. You may not succeed at first, but you’ll get it eventually.
  6. A natural high
    Getting your blood flowing on a sunny day won’t just ease your ADHD symptoms, it’ll brighten your spirits. With a boost in mood-enhancing serotonin from the sun and, if you really exert yourself, endorphins from working your heart and muscles, you’re bound to feel pretty good when you’re done.

So what are you waiting for? Get out and start digging in that dirt!


Sometimes, it pays to pay

Has an area of your home or yard gotten out of control? Do you need a breath of relief?

Sometimes, it pays to pay. Pay someone to get you back on your feet, that is.

When a few loose ends become a lot of trouble

A friend once told me about a job he took over winter break in college. A professor asked him to help clean out his office. When my friend arrived, he found it worse than he ever expected: the professor accessed his desk at the rear of the room via a tiny path through a tunnel of clutter. Visitors actually had to pass under the junk balanced overhead.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar situation in your own life. Maybe it’s not the whole house, but just a closet or a room that gradually got away from you until cleaning it up felt too overwhelming. I know it has happened to me.

Looming, unfinished, unattended projects sap our mental energy. If you’re feeling stuck, you may need to close one of those open loops.

Taming the jungle — with some help from a pro

Several years ago, I got fed up with our garden. I’d let it get out of control following a springtime shoulder surgery. Finally, I decided enough was enough.

Rather than add it to the list of overwhelming problems I swore were ruining my life, I took decisive action. My boss had a neighbor who was looking for odd gardening jobs. We were getting a tax refund. While I didn’t want to hire a regular gardener, I had to admit I needed help.

For less than the value of our tax refund that year, we had a gardener take us from here:


To here:


That left us responsible for weeding and upkeep, which felt far more manageable than clearing the overgrown mess it had become.

Pay if you can

I realize hiring someone to give you a boost on household tasks may not be possible for everyone, but it’s worth considering. If money is tight, you may want to set aside an unexpected windfall, such as a tax refund. Or you could calculate how much you spend on one unnecessary thing and put the money in a jar for your project instead. Think cab rides instead of walking or taking the bus, lattes at Starbucks instead of making them at home, ordering Chinese instead of planning your meals and cooking during the week, paper towels instead of real ones, cigarettes when you keep saying you should quit. An exciting reward may even motivate you to create a good habit.

Also, just because you pay someone to redo your garden doesn’t mean they need to come every week to mow your lawn. Hiring a service to scan all your old photographs only needs to happen once if you’ve moved on to digital.  A cleaning service can provide a single-visit deep clean to make it more manageable for you to start a regular cleaning schedule of your own.

Even if you grew up in a household that valued doing work yourself whenever possible, there’s no shame in asking for a little help to reach your full potential. Remember, once a task becomes overwhelming (like a garden that hasn’t been tended for two years or a renovation project that’s left you without a kitchen for 10 months), breaking it into bite-size pieces and getting started again on your own will be tough. If a little money is all it takes to put you back on track, so be it.

Have you benefited from paying a professional to help you with a task that had become an insurmountable hurdle? If you have, please share!


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