Presence:  Best Gift to Give!

Presence: Best Gift to Give!

Give the gift of presence this holiday.  It is what makes for lasting memories as the gift that truly keeps giving!

Practicing “Mindfulness” as the Key to a Peaceful Holiday Season

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
— Thich Nhat Hahn

This holiday season is a great reminder of what truly makes memories that will last a lifetime. It isn’t the number of gifts we receive but rather the time we spend with our loved ones. In short, it’s the act of being present.

A person struggling with ADHD or other executive functions may need direction this time of year on how to become connected to the true gifts of the holiday season of love joy and compassion. The term “mindfulness” is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives.

As Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist teacher would remind the world to do — Be present, be in the moment and Enjoy life.

Here is a list of some ways you can help create a peaceful holiday: being mindful can bring you joy in every moment.
  1. Be connected to your breath.
    Conduct a simple breathing exercise of inhaling and saying to yourself, “I am here” Then, breath out and feel the air leave your body for a few seconds. This can bring you back into the moment and leave you feeling connected with yourself, again.

2.  Pick a healthy way to take care of yourself. Take a walk.
Walking mindfully and slowly while paying attention to the sensations on the bottom of your feet offer other personal experiences. Notice how the body moves as you walk with awareness. Take one step at a time.

  1. Prioritize your time.
    Start each day with a few minutes of quiet time. Reflect on the day ahead to help you prioritize your tasks and stay in tune with your emotional state. Recognize important things that need to be done. Identify any stressors and decide how you plan to address them. This process can help you follow through successfully each day.
  2. Actively listen to one another.
    As students get excited for the holidays and receive an academic break from school, it can be a stressful time in the household. Elementary students are exploding with boundless energy while anticipating once-per-year events. High school and college students are studying frantically for their final exams. Parents are preoccupied with navigating their holiday to-do lists.

The combination of feeling overwhelmed, being excited with the seasonal events and the reality of academic stress can severely affect family relationships.

Now is the time to encourage one another to identify the feeling.

What emotion are you experiencing? Are you sad, stressed, angry, anxious, joyful, disappointed, excited or embarrassed? Accept the authenticity of your feelings and express the emotions verbally.

By expressing your feelings it can release negative emotions. Also, by being an active listener, you can demonstrate that you are present and validate the needs of others.

When you practice mindfulness, you are in a state of concentration. Because you are aware, and can sustain that awareness, it is said that you are concentrated. By being fully concentrated, you have an opportunity to make a breakthrough – and to achieve insight.

This practice of cultivating stillness in your life, loving speech and deep listening will bring joy and happiness to others and yourself. This holiday, achieve the true gift of happiness and joy by being in the moment and being present for others. It may be the most joyous season yet when all feel that their needs are being heard and therefore met.

Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, PTSD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog or purchase my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.  It is packed full of exercises and strategies you can put to use immediately.

 

Coming Home For The Holidays!

Coming Home For The Holidays!

Coming Home for the Holidays!

The holidays are approaching and I am so excited to see my college kids! Well, sort of.   We have gotten used to a routine without them and honestly a much cleaner house. Do you have this kind of conflicted tug on your heartstrings when family comes home from college and kids are home from school breaks?

Home for the Holidays with ADHD (more…)

When ADHD Becomes an Excuse

When ADHD Becomes an Excuse

When ADHD Becomes an Excuse

Has this ever happened to you? You are on the phone talking to your spouse and you stop mid-sentence and start to look for your phone to see if you have a text message. You panic while you are still in conversation and say, “ Honey, I can’t find my……?” And then you suddenly realize it is in your hand!!!!  Could ADHD become an excuse for you?

ADHD excuse

Is this just plain absent-mindedness or ADHD working memory?
Or is this you?

Do you find yourself making excuses for your “loudmouth” that shocks people into a burst of nervous laughter? You realize right AFTER you said something that the person you told it to was taken way off guard, shocked or insulted because you have that gift of reading people’s facial expressions AFTER you blurt out something without thinking it through first. But you know it is too late to go back. You have seen this expression many times before. So first, you apologize, “Hey, I have ADHD and we tend to act before we think!”   You try to smooth it over and then walk away with that dreaded feeling that you just once again inserted your foot straight into your mouth.

What is the fine line between taking ownership of your ADHD and using it as an excuse?

You wish it weren’t this way, but throughout the years, you have done this and you say the only thing you remember from your conditioned childhood is that you do things differently and sometimes offensively because you have ADHD.

It’s just who I am…..

it is common for parents to focus a lot on their ADHD children in an attempt to normalize their actions as much as possible, but it can backfire as they get older and become young adults. So much so that the person can get confused with their actual condition as most of their lives they heard that they could not do certain things normally because they are dealing with ADHD. At other times, they might have been constantly reminded about the diagnosis. In both cases, there are high chances of believing that they are not capable of doing certain things, internalizing negative perceptions about themselves. People start giving their condition as an excuse to others, saying they cannot do something because they are dealing with ADHD.

“Yes, I know I make a lot of mistakes but that’s because I have ADHD.”

Or you might hear, “I keep forgetting the formulas; I have issues remembering things because I am dealing with ADHD.” – all these and various other excuses could be potential scapegoats expression when they are trying to avoid doing something.

Focusing too much on the ADHD symptoms can lead to negative consequences – short term as well as long term. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between empathizing and making them feel low. Focusing on their symptoms to help them deal with them is different than making them think they are incapable of doing a certain thing. And there is a grey boundary between these two things. Understanding the difference between the explanation and an excuse is important as the difference is subtle.

Here’s how you can help

It is essential to look at different ways you can assist. For instance, your 10-year-old wants to go out for a movie with friends. You are worried because he gets hyperactive at times and when he is in that state, it can intrude in people’s personal space. Yet, you don’t want to stop him just because he has ADHD. The solution is to explain your concern instead of showing it as an excuse. Sit with him and describe the issue about him getting hyperactive. Don’t just show him his problem, also provide him opportunities or ways to role-play and offer solutions when he gets too much energy and needs to move around.

Focus on the solution of how they CAN do something. You can use role-playing for behavior outcomes. This strategy can be used for children and adults. It can help to bridge the desire to use ADHD as a self-defeating symptom and see there are other possibilities. You can also discuss strategies that help thinking patterns with a distraction or fidget toy. This can help the mind focus more. By considering strategies and resources to help the symptoms of ADHD, one can need to rely on it as an excuse and focus on what they can do IN SPITE of ADHD.

Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, PTSD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog or purchase my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.  It is packed full of exercises and strategies you can put to use immediately.

My Story My Purpose My Drive

My Story My Purpose My Drive

I want to share with you my personal story of how I became an ADHD coach

My daughter is the story behind my story, my purpose and my drive to be an  ADHD coach.  She  was in fifth grade and we had been traveling in South America for four months during the school year. I worked with her during our home-school sessions and got to see how she was learning in a one on one environment. It was clear that she understood the concepts being taught. She was getting good grades in this environment.

Back from our travels, she settled back into the classroom but soon began to fall behind academically. It didn’t match up to me, and I couldn’t understand what was going on. I really did not know much about ADHD. (more…)

What do ADHD Medications Do Anyway?

What do ADHD Medications Do Anyway?

What does ADHD medication do?

ADHD brain meds

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD medications are effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD in the majority of children as well as adults. Medical research shows that medication is the preferred treatment for ADHD. If you are like I was when they were prescribed at first, I blindly gave them to my daughter without really understanding what they were doing for her.  Fast forward to today and I am now an informed educator and coach and want to pass off some information to help you understand a little bit about the meds that are being recommended for you or your child and see what do they do and how they work.

The Impacted Areas

ADHD mainly affects the parts of the neurological system, which is the brain and nervous system, in terms of transmitting electrical signals or stimuli. The process of parts of the brain communicating with each other is known as neurotransmission.

It makes it difficult to concentrate and focus. Other major symptoms widely observed are inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, anxiety, depression, tics, personality disorders, bipolar disorders, OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, restlessness, and short-tempered. These are commonly treated with medications such as stimulantsalong with behavior therapy.

How Do the Medications Target Impacted Areas

The medications widely being used for treating both children and adults suffering from symptoms of ADHD fall under the category of Stimulants. These stimulants function by boosting the levels of two main neurotransmitters in the brain, namely, Norepinephrineand Dopamine. The former is responsible for attention, attentiveness, concentration and focus whereas the latter controls attention and memory.

ADHD medication drugs increase or decrease the release of these chemicals in the brain to bring them to a normal state. When that happens, the synapse between neurons can hold an accurate amount of neurotransmitter for sending and receiving of neuro-signals. So, the metabolic activity increases in certain areas of the brain, aiding communication with elevated neurotransmitter levels and resulting in better functioning during cognitive tasks.

Different Doses, Varied Effects

When taken in small dosages, the body reacts to these stimulants in the same way that it does when the brain naturally produces dopamine and norepinephrine. The energy levels rise, alertness increases and so do concentration, attention, and focus. Different kinds of stimulants are available in the market. These are categorized based upon their ability to produce results within a certain frame of time. The categories are as follows:

  1. Short-acting stimulants
  2. Intermediate-acting stimulants
  3. Long-acting stimulants

The short-acting stimulants produce short term results. They have to be taken twice or three times a day. That implies that the patient has control over the intake of medication in his or her system. However, it is often noticed that patients tend to be forgetful about their medications and doses. It is no surprise that long-acting stimulants are widely preferred for patients suffering from ADHD with the reason being only a single tablet per day and the results lasting from 8 to 12 hours are more manageable.

However, higher dosages of the stimulants can affect adversely and result in impaired attention, obsessive-compulsive disorders, heart disorders.

It is noteworthy that the stimulants, non-stimulants, antidepressants, and behavior or other therapies do not cure ADHD. They result in an enhancement in the condition by increasing or decreasing the symptoms based on the need of the patient and help make it more manageable on a day to day basis. Proper and regular doses along with cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching have been reported to help with near to normal cognitive functioning.

This is just the surface level of information. Each person has a different way their body absorbs the medication and they effective can vary.  More medications are coming available to compensate for various patient needs.  The best point of contact to discuss these options is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of ADHD.  I believe more research is needed to better understand the effects in adults coupled with external structures to help cope with the challenges ADHD brings to your life. For now, it is a trial and error testing period to see what the right combination, dosage, and external structures help you manage your unique challenges.  But, keep looking and reading as knowledge is power and you can find ways that other people are managing their ADHD which can spur some ideas for yourself. As one doctor said in a podcast recently, ADHD is the best disorder that you can have as it is so treatable.

Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD,  Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.

 

 

Are ADHD Meds Stimulants?

Are ADHD Meds Stimulants?

Are ADHD Meds Stimulants?

Yes and No. Not all ADHD medications are stimulants, but the vast majority of prescriptions are for stimulants.

So, let’s dig in a bit to understand them.

adhd meds

For most people dealing with ADHD, stimulant medications are effective and safe. Just the way reading glasses help our weak eyes focus better, stimulant medications help people dealing with ADHD focus their thoughts better. They help them in becoming more aware of their surroundings; they make them gain more control and pay attention to things around them. They are prescribed more often than non-stimulant medications

 

According to experts, stimulants are best when combined with another form of therapy such as behavioral therapy or coaching. According to researchers and studies conducted, around 80% of the children dealing with ADHD show great improvement when they are given stimulants in the correct dosage. I would predict that adults are similar, but there needs to be more research in this area.

In general, there are two types of stimulants that are used – the short-acting stimulants that are used as an immediate acting medication, and then there is extended-release that is used for long-acting. The first category of medication is usually taken when needed, like for an important event you might be planning when you really need to focus and be on point. Extended medications are taken once a day, usually in the mornings. Some common ones used are Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Clients that I have worked with say that, when they REMEMBER to take their meds, they can help manage the typical ADHD symptoms, such as impulsive behavior and short attention span allowing them to have a very productive day.

You may be wondering how they work. These medications boost the level of neurotransmitter brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which play a crucial part in one’s ability to be attentive and process information.

In simple words, they help the nerves found in our brain communicate with other nerves. As a result, you are able to focus better.

 

Just as eyeglass prescriptions are customized to a person’s unique vision problems, medication can be seen as the same. You want to get the correct type and dosage that is best suited for your conditions. Have you ever tried on someone else’s eyeglass prescription and it distorted everything in your view the wrong way? Well, think of having the wrong dosage of medication as a correlation. This is why it is always best to consult with a physician. You need to consider your own circumstances and health needs.

I must caution users to never try a medication from a friend or family member

Over the years, I have heard stories of parents that have used their kid’s prescription to see if it worked for them. This is not safe. Especially, for people with these complexities below, this group is cautioned to not take stimulants and a consult should be the first step.

–Severe anxiety, nervousness, tension or stress

  • Tourette syndrome, or if it is there in family history
  • Glaucoma
  • Taking medication known as monoamine oxidase
  • Psychotic or have a history of psychosis

 

When you meet with your physician they will discuss some options for you and the side effects that are possible with stimulants such as higher blood pressure, headaches, weight loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal and abnormalities in stomach. These generally go away after a few days, but if they don’t one must consult the doctor. Getting the medication right is an important piece of managing your ADHD. Do not ignore your symptoms and make sure to take note of how you are reacting to the medication plan.

Contrary to belief, sleep-related problems generally do not exist with a long-acting stimulant. I have heard of people who say that when they take their medications consistently it can actually help them have fewer thoughts as they go to bed and help them sleep better. I saw a comment once that said, “If I could actually count the sheep, I could get to sleep!” I think they were referring to the distracting thoughts that were happening while they were trying to focus on counting the sheep!

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while taking these stimulants –

  • The medication must always be taken as prescribed. If there are any doubts or questions, one must call the doctor
  • One should try to stick to a schedule to ensure the medicine is given at the same time every day
  • If any dose is missed, the next dose should be given at the defined time
  • Record how your body is reacting to the meds over time and share it with your doctor

I was listening to a podcast recently on the usage of stimulants for treating ADHD and someone had raised a question if these stimulants get someone high or if they are addictive. To this question, the experts replied that when these drugs are taken as directed by the doctors, they do not get people high. They help make people with ADHD feel “normal” where they could hold their thoughts and carry on conversations without being distracted or impulsively blurting out their every thought. Essentially, it helped people with ADHD be more successful in their lives. They went on to state that stimulants used for ADHD have no pieces of evidence that consuming them is habit-forming and nor leads to drug abuse. The reaction in a person with ADHD using a stimulant is the opposite effect of someone without ADHD using the prescription. There is a much higher risk of them ending up in the hands of someone who does not need the medication nor has ADHD and them abusing it. This leads to another focus of safe storage and educating people to never share their medication as I mentioned earlier.

When used appropriately, stimulant medication has changed lives for the better.

So now that you have a little information about stimulants, you can start to look at the types of stimulants that are available to you. There is a lot to learn about medications with more options coming into the market. It can be overwhelming.   The best practice is to find a doctor who specializes in ADHD treatment plans and have a consult with them to determine what is the best plan for your unique situation. Be sure to ask what your options are for managing your ADHD given your health history and lifestyle. It makes a difference to the physician prescribing the medication to know which is best for you.

Just as you need to be informed about how the doctor may be able to help you, the doctor needs information about you to best help you.

Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD,  Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.