So, What is ADHD/ADD?
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 of hampering 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 following quote by Leonardo Da Vinci encapsulates the ideology of individuals’ with ADD/ADHD quite beautifully.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them, they went out and happened to things”.
–Leonardo Da Vinci
It’s time that those with ADD/ADHD embrace their unique way of thinking and means of operating in today’s modern world by breaking the stigma and gaining insight into self, as a means to employ alternative treatment modalities.
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!
In working with clients with ADD/ADHD it is about striking 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, 2006).
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 (Cassone, 2013).
Consider the following Holistic and Mindfulness-based approaches for navigating the pitfalls of ADD/ADHD. Find your own way of coping via self-exploration and discovery.
Seize the moment: Exercise, daily. Commit to just 10-15 minutes at the start of each day to jump-start focus and improve concentration. Feeling irritable or restless throughout the day? Integrate 2-3 minutes of cardio bursts (i.e. jumping jacks, mountain climbers) and/or stabilizing postures (i.e. planks, squat holds) to fire up your core, encouraging the inner voyager to thrive!
Nourish your 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 coloring’s (junk food, processed sugar) from your diet. If there are more than 5 ingredients listed on a food label and you cannot pronounce any of them, it’s a good indicator that you are consuming and 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!
Eugene, E. A. Alternative Treatments for Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences / Volume 931, 1. 2006. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb05788.x
Cassone, A. R. Mindfulness Trianing as an Adjunct to Evidence-Based Treatment for ADHD Within Families. Volume 19, 2: 147-157. 2015. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054713488438.