There are a few fundamentals that clinicians query for when we’re first getting to know you or when we’re getting to the bottom of issues.  This varies depending on the person but there are universalities: sleep, eating, and general routine. I like to use this analogy – if there are ripples on the top of the river (i.e. problems in your life), let’s check to make sure the river bed is smooth first.  These fundamentals are so important to functioning that when they are out of sync, they undermine any other efforts to gain traction towards growth and change.  Sleep is especially difficult to manage with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  

 

Let’s take Jane as an example.  Jane has a busy life.  She’s got a job and she’s a mom of two kids.  She’s juggling the responsibilities of a career and a household.  We’ll even give her the benefit of a supportive boss and partner, as well as make things a little easier by saying her kids are school aged.  Jane is constantly exhausted and flying by the seat of her pants – responding to the immediate needs of her life day to day.  Her time and energy are hijacked by the latest thing.  She averages around five hours of sleep a night (adults need 7-8 hours night). A lack of sleep robs us of our clearest thinking, emotional stability, and decision making power.  The biggest issue with this is we don’t even realize it, because it also steals our ability to see the big picture and have perspective.  

 

Consider this alternative.  Jane takes the time to establish flexible structure and a handful of clear priorities in her life.  And yes, this is possible, even with a busy life with kids.  It’s difficult to do alone, and so Jane enlists the help of a psychologist who suspects she struggles with attention issues.  Here’s what she comes up with:

 

Priorities:

  • Start getting ready for bed at the same time every night, no matter what’s going on.  Plan the rest of the night accordingly.  
  • Eat one full meal a day (preferably with family) and carry granola bars as snacks.
  • Stay organized with a calendar and lists.

 

Goals and Action Steps:

  • Post a family calendar in the kitchen for everyone to see and add to.  Keep it updated.
  • Keep a digital grocery list on a app (Google Keep or Any.Do) and update it immediately.  Partner will also have the list.
  • Keep calendars for work events and tasks, as well as family events and tasks.  Set multiple reminders with drop dead deadlines.  Delegate tasks to colleagues and partner as needed.

 

Jane is tired all day and thinks this is just how it is for this stage in life.  Maybe she’s right.  But what if it could be better?  Her hope is that by setting priorities in her life, and the goals and steps consistent with those priorities, she starts to guide her life in the direction she chooses.  She is pulling her time and effort away from reacting and putting it towards deliberately responding.  She will free up chunks of time by becoming more efficient and give herself the opportunity to recharge each day by getting enough sleep, staying on top of hunger, and planning for things in her life.

 

I know what you’re thinking – this is overly simple.  But is it?  Take a look at your own priorities.  Is what you value in line with how your days actually unfold?  If not, have you considered why?  When I’ve asked this question to my overburdened, saddened, defeated, and tired clients, I usually get the response that life is just throwing so much at them and they must deal with it all.  I get it.  I’m living life too.  There are so many things out of our control.  So let’s work on what we can control and see if it makes a difference.  What do you have to lose?  

 

We can help you make meaningful changes in your life.  We can help you sort out all of the priorities and put them in an order that makes sense.  You can figure out and understand how to take care of yourself, your children, and your relationships.  It’s a moving target and the skills needed aren’t taught in school.  Call or email us today to get started.

 

Dr. Laura Linebarger

 

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Laura Linebarger, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in ADHD coaching and empowerment, substance abuse and other behavioral addictions, as well as men’s issues.

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