Looking after you
So either you have been told you have ADHD or Autism, or you think this might be the case because of the way you or your brain are behaving? If that is the case, let's think about how you can look after both you and your brain to get the most out of life and the opportunities in front of you.
Let's think about your well-being and how to keep safe and on track
It's time to understand how your neuro diverse brain works. How does your ADHD or Autism look to you? To understand more of how you think and feel with it why not try to keep a diary. This can be a great way to look back on and understand what happened to influence your behaviour and thoughts. Leave your diary somewhere you will remember to write in it and agree with your carers that this is your private space.
For you to be able to make the right choices it is important to think through your thought processes and learn your strengths/weaknesses. By understanding your strengths and weaknesses you can start to put the scaffolding in place to make choices and to understand when you may face consequences.
Give Your Life Structure
Living with Autism or/and ADHD is often a very overwhelming experience, particularly when you are trying to live up to your own expectations as well as everyone around you. You will probably have so many thoughts bouncing around in your head that you can't think straight and have no idea what to do next, so much so that you avoid doing anything. By putting some structure and routine into your life you may be able to manage some of these thoughts and feelings allowing your mind to focus on things in a more structured way. It might help you to have reminders of routine things on your walls such as what you need to do in the morning, what you need for school or what you need to get done for an assignment. Also, it is important to control your spending habits. Create a budget and stick to it. Try having a daily budget folder.
In order to reduce overwhelming thoughts getting in the way of focus and staying on track, it is helpful to learn how to prioritise tasks.
You do not need a list as long as your arm as that will just be overwhelming and you will never get through it. Start by deciding which tasks are the most important and absolutely need to be done first. By spending just a small amount of time looking at the priorities will make a huge difference to the way you are feeling.
Cross each thing off as you do it and you will feel your achievement. Seeing most of the tasks crossed out can help you focus on the last projects and work. You may want to do a few shorter tasks first and then tackle a bigger one with a clearer mind. You don't need to solve everything in one day.
Physical activity is a cheap and effective way of making a difference not just to the body, but also the mind and your generally mental health and well-being. Exercise is a great way to burn off excess energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
ADHD and sometimes autism and decreased executive function are closely related. It has been suggested that exercise may have the potential to reduce symptoms in people with neuro diverse conditions. In addition, physical exercise releases endorphins which help regulate mood. This also increases the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels within the brain. These three chemicals help with attention and focus, which of course is often decreased in people with ADHD
And don't forget one of the most important parts of the day to help your functioning and well-being - SLEEP and not just any sleep but quality, undisturbed sleep.
This is much easier said than done as for those living with a neuro diverse condition, getting a good nights' sleep can be really difficult. Being refreshed from a solid sleep helps us better deal with things that come at us during the day. It helps improve our focus and makes it easier to stick to all the other things we are trying to do such as prioritise, structure and do exercise.
Routines before bed can help to assist us not just to fall asleep but also to stay asleep. Going to bed at about the same time everyday trains the body to begin feeling sleepy as bedtime approaches.
It is a good idea to avoid drinking coffee within a couple hours of going to bed, avoiding screens and other electronics and even leaving your phone downstairs and turned off, as they can stimulate your mind and make it difficult to fall asleep quickly. Winding down before bed by reading a book or meditating are great ways to quiet down your brain and naturally become sleepy