Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maintaining Spiritual and Mental Wellness - Seven Strategies

Maintaining a healthy mental or spiritual life is contingent upon balancing work with play, taking time for yourself, and giving back to the community. Failure to adhere to personal boundaries, to keep emotions and negative tapes in check, and to curb impulsivity can contribute to diminished spiritual and mental wellness. When you give support to your internal life, your external life will also be better. Here are seven strategies:

1. End the shame and blame.

The only way to stop blaming yourself for your ADHD is to learn as much as you can about it. If you can understand the neurobiological roots of ADHD, you will be better able to separate yourself from the disability and do something about it. The way to end the shame and to start to build self-esteem and move forward is to make friends with your brain and develop strategies to bridge gaps in performance.

2. Make a date with yourself.

Block out “sacred time” weekly to rejuvenate. Don’t allow anything to creep into this space. For example, if you’ve decided to use this time to read and relax, don’t allow yourself to clean your house instead because you have a day off. To help put boundaries around this sacred space, make a list of what is permitted in that space and time, and what is not. Post it! Review it and practice sticking to it!

3. When you say yes, you also mean no.

Often, we don’t think of the consequences of saying “yes.” Stop and think before committing. When you say “yes” to something, what are you saying “no” to? For example, if you say “yes” to doing an extra project at work or helping a friend move on a Saturday, are you saying “no” to spending more time with your family or to taking time to exercise? What are you saying “yes” to in your life? What are you saying “no” to? What is it costing you? Try to ensure that “yes” adds something to your life.

4. Identify your energy rhythms.

People with ADHD are often unaware of when their bodies are worn down. It’s important to learn not only what types of projects create energy for you, but also which ones drain energy. That way you can plan the most demanding activities during your peak energy times, as well as gauge when to stop working on a project and rest.

Keep a calendar or a log of your energy rhythms for a period of several weeks. This works best if the system is simple. For example, use a scale of plus or minus signs to depict high or low energy times, and write them beside different activities logged in a daily calendar.

5. Pre-plan for bad brain days.

Can’t concentrate? Distracted? My clients call this a “bad brain day.” For these days it’s important not to push yourself too hard and to have a failsafe plan in mind by knowing what works for you. Take a break and walk around the block, have a cup of tea, or call a friend. Then get back to work. One of my clients says he gives himself a “time out” by going to a cafĂ© near work to just “sit and chill” for an hour. The key is to know when these days hit and take action by doing what works for you.

6. Practice relaxation exercises.

People with ADHD often live in a state of constant stress. It’s important to learn how to slow down and de-stress, both mentally and physically, at any given moment. Learn relaxation techniques and methods to center yourself at any given moment. Practice slow breathing techniques, or join a yoga or meditation class. If you are spiritual, make daily prayers a priority.

7. Give thanks.

One of my clients has made a habit of ending each day by writing down one thing for which she’s grateful. She does this right before bed each night as a way of reflecting on the day she’s just lived through, and a way of de-stressing before sleep. I’ve tried it, and I agree with her. It’s amazing how you can learn to accentuate the positive!

What do you do to keep yourself in balance? More strategies to come next month!