ADHD

Breaking the cycle of overwhelm...critical first step in taking back your life, ADHD or not

Whether or not you live with ADHD, there is benefit from today's blog post. I hope that you will find a golden nugget in this discussion and break your cycle of overwhelm.

Palace at Versailles, France

Palace at Versailles, France

 

One of my favorite resources for those learning to manage their ADHD is a book titled , "Odd One Out," by Jennifer Koretsky. She describes life from her point of view in a simple, clear manner and then breaks down a plan for success that makes complete sense to me.

If you have not read it, and have the good fortune to know someone challenged by this neuro-atypical brain style, I highly recommend spending the two hours it will take to read her book. There is benefit to improved understanding whether or not you live with ADHD. I guarantee that most of you work with people challenged by this brain style. You can be of great service to them and to yourself.

In the meantime, I will fast-forward you to the critical first step.

Ms. Koretsky describes the first step in managing ADHD as this: to break the cycle of overwhelm. I agree.

I have known this to be true for many years and, have found it to be a critical first step with all of my clients and in my personal and professional life whether challenged by ADHD or not. No matter what has led a person to feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in their homes, office, and heads, "breaking the cycle of overwhelm," is the key to taking charge, moving forward, and finding less stress and more joy in day to day living!

Sounds simple, right? The challenge is in recognizing that you are overwhelmed, stepping back long enough to acknowledge your feelings, and then choosing to focus your attention upon one thing. Your most important or nagging, worrisome space or thought.

I am frequently hired to "help sort a few things." This invariably means "come help me dig my way out of the detritus of the past 20 years and find the golden rings buried in the ooey gooey center of it all." And, I LOVE what I do. Truly!

My clients feel overwhelmed. There is no question about it. And, if I am completely honest, I have been known to experience a momentary sense of overwhelm when I first arrive. But this feeling quickly passes because I have learned to break the cycle of overwhelm but placing my focus upon what is most important to them. I always work from this perspective.  

For me this has two layers, emotional health, and safety. Yes, I am a safety girl. Grounded and sensible. And, I LOVE a 1000 piece, 3-D puzzle. So I can see past the messes and piles of stuff towards the potential and possibility of a healthier, less stressful environment for my clients to live and work. They have asked me to help them declutter, to make sense of their things, to let go of what no longer serves them well. We do this one thing, one space, one room at a time. And it works.

My advice to you, if you are looking at your home or office, and you want or need a change, but feel overwhelmed and are unsure where to begin, start by asking what is stressing or overwhelming you the most, and begin there.

Get rid of what you don't need unless you cannot bear to part with something.  I urge you NOT to organize what is really unnecessary. Throw it away, donate it, recycle it, give it back to its proper owner, but do not let it take up permanent residence. It is crowding out what is important and adding to your mental clutter. 

For those of us with ADHD, keeping everything in sight is a common strategy for finding things. This is not the most effective strategy in reality, because over time it becomes difficult to distinguish what is important from what is not.  If you have ever spent 20 minutes looking for something that is right in front of you, you know what I am talking about. 

I beg of you, return things to their designated drawers, cupboards, closets, or spaces when you are done using them. If you always put things in the same space, you will create habits that make it easier to find your stuff over time.

You may have items of value and may hesitate or hold on to them for later. This is a double edged sword. Keeping things for a garage sale or to resale can bring a sweet little chunk of change. And there is definitely a time to do this. But sometimes, especially in those truly overwhelming periods of your life, it is more freeing and more gratifying to "just let it go," now. The sooner the better. If you are asking for help, wanting help, looking for change, then you ARE ready. 

Organizing Solutions San Diego

Give it away, throw it away, bless someone else with it. Let go of what no longer serves you. Put things away. Keep only what you need and use, and love. ADHD or not, break the cycle of overwhelm.

Your peace of mind and your new, healthier, less overwhelming life is waiting for you.

 

photography by Jennifer Raphael

 

 

 

 

Back To School Planning...Remember Your ABC's?

As summer comes to an end, we are bombarded with visual reminders that a new school year will soon be upon us. For many people this is welcome news. We look forward to new routines, new adventures in the classroom, and more structure to our days. For others, thinking about the start of a new school year raises feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Stores are overflowing with fall clothing and school supplies. And...did I REALLY see Halloween decorations on display already?! It can all be a bit overwhelming if we don't arm ourselves with a plan so that we can stress less, spend less, and enjoy more on these last days of summer with our families before our new routines take shape. Keep the following in mind as you prepare for the first days of school.

A- Acknowledge that there will be expenses and look for coupons and sales.

B- Be prepared with a shopping list and buy only what you really need to get started.

C- Check school websites for supply lists and book purchases needed for first week of school.

D- Designate an in/out launchpad at your front door for backpacks, notes to teachers, shoes, and   jackets.

E- Each child needs his/her own set of supplies to be kept at home for homework and should have an assigned work space whether it be in a bedroom or at the kitchen table.

F- Fix lunches and snacks the night before school.

G- Get your kids involved in the process of setting up work spaces and choosing supplies.

H- Haircuts are a good idea but I caution you not to wait until the last minute. Schedule them a few weeks before school starts to allow a little growing out and adjustment to a new look.

I- Invest in something new such as a school bag or backpack that your child helps to choose.

J- Join a parents' support group or plan regular coffee mornings. There is strength in numbers be it in person or via blogs and the internet and much to be learned from those who have paved the road you now walk.

K- Keep it simple...backpacks, notebooks, highlighters, sticky notes, planner, timer, reinforced hole paper, pens and pencils are a good start.

L- Label everything, especially outerwear!

M- Measure kids' heights to mark the new school year.

N- New habits begin with you. Prompt your child to give you notes/forms/permission slips from teachers and to return homework to the same place in her/his backpack daily.

O- Organize closets and study areas the week before school starts.

P- Photos taken on the first day at home rather than in front of peers may induce less stress for your children.

Q- Quest for knowledge can be exhausting. Have healthy snacks on hand for after school!

R- Relax...It has been my experience that teachers send home wish lists and class supply lists the first week of school. Make sure that your student has the basics to begin the year right and then fill in the gaps over the next few weeks.

S- Send labeled medications and pertinent health information to the health office and to your child's teachers the first day of school.

T- Test the route to school the week before school starts to allow for timely arrival.

U- Update IEP/504 plans ASAP.

V- Volunteer opportunities abound. Choose those that suit your time and talent; know your limits.

W- Weed out old clothes that no longer fit and donate them to make room for new purchases.

X- eXamine the calendar of events for the year ahead and add them to your calendar. It will make planning much simpler. Many 2014-2015 calendars are already on school websites.

Y- Yes, there is an end to the myriad of forms requested at the beginning of the year. Treat them like a game of "hot potato." Complete them and send them back ASAP!

Z- zzz...Get a good night's sleep!

 

Feng Shui...Applying the neuroscience of architecture

We have all heard of feng shui but as with so many influences in our daily lives, we may be unaware of the significant impact our surroundings have upon our energy levels. Despite my expertise in the organizing arena, I recently reached out to a colleague, Cathryn, who has incredible knowledge of feng shui hoping for insight into the next steps needed to improve the balance of energies in my home.  In my experience, when applying the general principles of this practice, there is always  a positive result whether you understand the why of it all or not. There are many books and many web sites with information on the practice if you are intrigued.

What I want to share now is what Cathryn referred to as removing the "splinter" because this is a profound, although simple, concept and one that has already influenced a mood and energy shift for me. The "splinter" is that pattern or repeated misuse of space that influences energy.

For me, it was displaying things on high shelves throughout my home. These spaces had become heavy and stagnant. Because they are difficult to access and require a ladder and half a day to clean once I get started, I had left the displays unchanged for a long time. Even before I invited feng shui advice, I had noticed a nagging feeling when looking at these heights and had removed items from one room.

Some of the items have been donated to bless someone else, and other things are now being used for their intended function rather than decoration. Beginning this process propelled me into to considering the same steps in next room. But something was holding me back. Enter Feng Shui expert with no connection to my things or the stories attached to them. These ceiling height collections were one of the first things that Cathryn noticed and urged me to remove all of them and to live in the cleared spaces. I noticed a sense of calm immediately. Since removing the splinter, I have discovered the energy to move forward in other areas of my life.

I was inspired to put this new knowledge into practice and asked my son's participation. He has challenges falling asleep at night, as do many people with ADHD, and with his permission, I made some change in his room to see if they would make a difference.

I proposed that we remove the high energy bedding and leave the gray blue in its place. The shift was noticeable immediately. Next we removed active, high energy posters from his walls. Although he is a film major and chose posters to represent his favorite film genres, how restful can it be to wake to movie posters of the New York skyline in flames and the Joker's wicked grin? I proposed that we remove them temporarily to see if he felt any different with this change. His room is definitely calmer. But it remained crammed full of his many treasures, and being the creature of habit that he is, has remained unchanged for a few years other than to add to the mix.

Did I mention that he had a dense collection of things at ceiling height in his room? A splinter, perhaps! What I know for certain, is that he has been sleeping better and waking at 9 am instead of noon since we made those changes. That was two weeks ago.

Since then he has been more receptive to clearing more clutter and going through boxes and cupboards one at a time. And, I have been doing the same throughout our home.  I call this process peeling another layer.

For many people, and especially those challenged by chronic disorganization, setting a time limit with an actual timer, or pinpointing one specific area to review makes decluttering less overwhelming. Just one  shelf or box, or just 15 minutes are finite and tangible parameters. It may take longer than some of you would prefer, but it will get done and with benefits beyond the clutter clearing.

Apply the neuroscience of architecture to your life and who knows what you may discover!