How to Treat Symptoms of ADD/ADHD via Self-Discovery
Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit- Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are categorized as neurological disorders. Symptoms are present from childhood (before the age of 12) and manifest itself via hyperactivity, inattention and poor impulse control.
The underlying causes are both genetic and environmental, and the symptoms present differently amongst individuals. According to L. Eugene Arnold (2006), ADD/ADHD is considered to be a debilitating mental health problem in the sense that it has the potential to hamper a child’s development if not diagnosed and treated properly.
It’s important to note that there is nothing inherently "wrong" or pathological with individuals that possess ADHD like symptoms. Rather, people with ADD/ADHD are unique in their brain wiring and merely have a different way of navigating the world. Those with ADD/ADHD traits seek out new and invigorating stimulation, naturally; they are innovative in their thinking, which often leads them to embark on new journeys, explorations and discoveries.
The difficulty lies in navigating the pitfalls of our modern world successfully. That is, keeping up with our fast-paced, ever-changing environment and everyday obstacles—from scheduling to maintaining appointments, sitting through meetings effortlessly, making deadlines, waiting in line, keeping a budget, all in the midst of not misplacing one’s wallet or car keys.
People with ADD/ADHD need to strike a balance between quenching the thirst of the inner voyager while satisfying the hunger of societal demands and expectations of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Empirical research supports the efficacy of treating ADD/ADHD via Chinese herbals, massage, meditation, mirror feedback, zinc supplementation and acupuncture concurrent with behavioral therapy, according to Arnold.
Findings from Mindfulness Training as an Adjunct to Evidence- Based Treatment for ADHD Within Families identified mindfulness training to be an effective self-regulatory method for strengthening attention processes (orienting, alerting and executive attention). Preliminary findings suggest significant improvements in attention processes and prominent mindfulness-based approaches have been successfully adapted for ADHD.
Consider the following holistic and mindfulness-based approaches for navigating the pitfalls of ADD/ADHD:
Seize the moment: Exercise, daily. Commit to just 10 to 15 minutes at the start of each day to jump-start focus and improve concentration. Feeling irritable or restless throughout the day? Integrate two to three minutes of cardio bursts (i.e. jumping jacks, mountain climbers) and/or stabilizing postures (i.e. planks, squat holds) to fire up the core, encouraging the inner voyager to thrive.
Nourish the mind, body and soul from the inside out: Proper nutrition is crucial. Think whole foods such as veggies, proteins and healthy fats (i.e. nuts, seeds, avocados). Remove additives and any food colorings (junk food, processed sugar) from your diet. If there are more than five ingredients listed on a food label that cannot be pronounced, it’s a good indicator that you are consuming harsh chemicals, stripping your adrenal glands from being able to break down food enzymes properly, ultimately exasperating any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Know thyself: Be present. Ask yourself what you need in this very moment to feel grounded, focused and centered. Find what works for you. Create a soothing work space, break up tasks systematically, take breaks, use a visual timer, set a schedule and stick to it, create daily "to do" lists, make a conscious effort to put everything in it’s place to stay organized, utilize the support of mobile apps (i.e. Tile), consider working with a therapist, life coach, teacher, family member or friend to hold yourself accountable; try aroma therapy, essential oils or music to support you in getting through a mundane task. Meditate. Breathe.
Make it fun: Tap into your adventurous nature. Embark on the journey of self-discovery and embrace the inner voyager inside of you.
Maria Meidanis is a licensed mental health counselor, and she is also certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, reiki 1, motivational interviewing and yoga. Located in the Internal Wellness Center at 150 Wood Rd., in Braintree, she puts a new spin on therapeutic services, integrating a holistic, integrative, spiritual and individualized approach to treatment. Contact her at 617-858-8017 or MMeidanis@StillMotionTS.com. For more information, visit StillMotionTS.com.