Feeling Fantastic! – week 2

WEEK TWO                                         

Day one (day eight of the programme)

I have changed my mind about what to do in this second week. While researching breathing I again came across a series of techniques developed by a Russian called Buteyko. The first time around I was interested but too involved in following up self-regulation techniques to really go into it in any depth. I have had asthma on and off since I was a child, and have been having regular testing at the doctors for my breathing for years. However, no one’s ever mentioned these kinds of techniques for the treatment of asthma. I was given inhalers, and then they test my lung capacity in an annual review; what’s known as peak flow. They have never inquired into how much oxygen I am getting in my blood, or what’s happening to the carbon dioxide levels.

It would seem that a large amount of health problems can be caused by breathing with an open mouth, and since I read about it of discovered that yes, I have been an open mouth breather a lot of the time. Partly believing I would get more air when I felt breathless, and maybe that’s just the way I am made. Hard to tell at my time of life, because habits get so ingrained throughout our adult years.

One of the symptoms is cold hands and feet, something I’ve always suffered from, on and off, particularly in childhood, and very noticeably recently. In short, I have decided to give this method a try. I have bought a book about it and looked at the online website

Feeling Fantastic!

Feeling Fantastic!  blog                       

I’ve decided to blog about my experiences and to road test this program for myself.

Last year death cast a long shadow over my life, and although my self-care didn’t completely go out of the window it became a lot harder to stay buoyant.

Although this isn’t a New Year resolution, somehow after all the excess of Christmas this seemed like a good time to put myself through the program and road test it, before it gets released.

As the year turns, and the day length starts to increase, there comes new hope for future life and growth, and being able to simply rejoice in the fact of existence.

I’m going to be sharing how I get on, some of the choices I make, what worked, what didn’t work, and also how I feel about the changes I am making. I’ll be also sharing some links to resources that I come across.

WEEK ONE

For me week one consists of addressing my liquid intake. This is something that I have addressed at various times over the last 20 or 30 years, and the more I find out about water, the more amazing its properties appear to me. I’ll be sharing some of my discoveries for the benefit of people who sign up to my program. My intention this week around addressing my liquid intake is to drink one and a half litres of Volvic water per day. I chose Volvic because it is high in silicates which can bind to any aluminium in your brain and body and detoxify it by elimination. There has been research carried out which shows that people with autism often have high levels of aluminium in the brain.  Since there is autism in my family I decided to give it a try.  It certainly can’t do any harm. Volvic is one of a few mineral waters with high levels of silicates; there are several other brands of spring water which have this property.

The idea is really for me to focus on this in such a way that I begin to build a habit around becoming better hydrated. I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for myself to do, by getting in supplies of bottled water of a litre and a half each, and labelling them.

Day one

I did wonder whether 1 ½ litres per day was going to be too much water for me to handle. In the event I ran out and needed to open a spare bottle, which I will now keep to hand, in case the same thing happens tomorrow. I felt okay during and at the end of the day and was very pleased that I had achieved my aim.

Day two

After yesterday’s success I’m looking forward to continuing with this intention. I feel like it’s going to be very possible for me to achieve this. Today I had an amazing amount of energy, both mental and physical. I did several hours work in the morning in quite an effortless way, and was delighted to find there was a spring in my step when I needed to go out to do some errands. The other thing that happened was that I noticed while I was out, that my lips began to feel dry. This may partly have been because it is a very cold day, however my feeling is that my awareness of my state of hydration has been raised by this experiment. As I have got older it seems to me that I’m not so aware of when I feel thirsty, and sometimes get dehydrated without even realising it. Greater awareness of my hydration levels will be an additional benefit of doing this program. I felt thirsty when I got back home and drank to quench my thirst. Positive all round.

Because I’m keeping my bottle of water right next to the kettle, and have labelled each bottle for every day this week, and set them up in a prominent place right next to my sink, I am finding it quite easy to remember to keep going to the bottle & drinking. A visual and tangible reminder in a place where I can’t miss it, does seem to work for me.

I’m still having lots of herb teas as well as the water each day. I’m not getting too involved in the science of measuring exactly how much liquid I’m having every day, apart from the water. I want to make sure this is completely doable, and I need to remember there are eight more weeks to go – each week accumulating new intentions.

Day three

I am amazed at just how much water I can drink. I must have been mostly dehydrated before this I now realise. My mind seems to be sharper, I have more energy, I have more stamina both mental and physical. I am not feeling tired in the same way come the evening time. In fact, I am finding that my evening has been extended by several hours now. Quite an unexpected effect that I can only put down to the increase in water. Nothing else has changed in my life apart from this. I will be monitoring this, as I really value my sleep – and in fact sleep is a subject for future weeks.

By the end of today I certainly drank more than my one and a half litres, alongside several cups of herb tea, two coffees, and ginger beer at lunchtime, something I do not usually indulge in. Sugary drinks are usually out as far as I’m concerned, and I watched an episode of Trust me I’m a Doctor recently where they do bit of research into the effects of four different kinds of drinks, and how they affect appetite. The drinks compared were, carbonated juice, still juice, carbonated water, and Still water. People ate more after drinking the carbonated sweet drink, and the least after drinking Still water. It was a double-blind trial as the people taking part had no idea of the true purpose of the research until afterwards.  Here is the link if you are interested https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09l50zg/trust-me-im-a-doctor-series-7-episode-1

Day four

Today I continued with drinking this water, and do feel well on it. I decided to find out a little bit more about how to know whether you’re well hydrated or not, and discovered that there are really three ways. One is body weight, which is tricky to be exact about, the other is urine colour, i.e. the darker it is the more dehydrated you are, and it should really be a light straw colour. The third is thirst, and I was really intrigued to discover that if you are thirsty it means you are already slightly dehydrated. In other words, the body’s response to dehydration is to make you feel thirsty. So, my concern about not feeling thirsty very much may be unfounded.

This article from the Natural Hydration Council states the amount of water that people may need to drink per day is as follows;

“The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends an intake of 2.5 litres of water for men and 2.0 litres of water for women per day, via food and drink consumption.

Of this, they suggest that 70-80% of the daily water intake should come from drinks, and the remaining 20-30% should come from food. The British Nutrition Foundation gives guidelines for the types of fluid to drink, and water is the only fluid which they recommend drinking “plenty” of as it contains no sugar, calories or additives. In spite of this, research shows we still don’t drink enough of it.”

Day five

I am also drinking herb teas throughout the day, and a coffee in the morning as well, so I feel like my liquid intake has really gone up.

However, I think there is something about awareness as well, because I am feeling much more like drinking water as the days go on. I seem to be becoming more sensitive to noticing when I need to top up my water intake. I am now drinking two glasses of water on waking, whereas before this it was usually a couple of sips.

I am wondering whether to try starting my day with a sole drink. This is a drink made from a teaspoon of supersaturated salt solution made with pink Himalayan salt. Pink Himalayan salt has 84 different minerals in it and can apparently help to re-mineralise the body.  I’m not a doctor, so research this thoroughly and be cautious if you are going to start drinking salty water.

I’m not sure whether drinking salty water would be quite my thing on first waking up. I may try it when I am fully awake instead. Also, it’s a lot easier to pour a couple of glasses of water out of a bottle, than fiddling about with teaspoons and jars when I’m liable to drop everything through not being fully awake.

Day six

I did try a couple of glasses with some Himalayan pink salt in. I don’t think I could take it any stronger than a couple of pinches though. It was surprisingly refreshing.

Today went well, I am very much more aware of when I’m needing liquid. The weather is gone very cold, so I’m having the heating on from time to time, and that does mean I need to be more aware of keeping my liquids up.

Plenty of spicy herb teas, lemon and ginger, as well as the water. I had my tap class tonight, and always drink a bottle of water during that, so I ended up drinking more than 2 L today. Amazing!

Day seven

I’m rather pleased with my progress this week. This is the seventh day I’ve been doing this – and my system of having a water bottle next to the kettle has really helped to remind me. I will continue to label them for each day, as I am needing a spare to go with each day, and a really need to keep them separate so I don’t get confused.

I am enjoying drinking water more than I was. I’m drinking water more frequently than I was. I have noticed a huge increase in energy, and the increase in my enthusiasm for doing things has been a very welcome side benefit. Overall, it’s been an extremely enjoyable experience which I am now going to continue, although I won’t be recording it in full anymore on this blog, as I will be moving onto the next stage.

I may at the end of next week, just summarise how it’s going with the water as well as the results from part two of the programme, which will be an adjustment under the heading of exercise/movement.

My personal choice for this is an exercise to increase my strength and flexibility, as I am already doing a fair amount of movement in the form of jog walking nearly every day. I’m also going to add in some high-intensity vigorous movement at the beginning and end of each day, as I have found that vigorous movement just before I go to sleep means I have a much clearer head in the morning! Who knew?

Surviving & thriving in the holidays

Help yourself to happy holidays

Getting through the long summer holidays with kids with additional needs of all kinds is enough to challenge any parent.
Six weeks can feel like an eternity. There’s so many days to fill, and what if it rains?
As a single mum I spent many years dreading the summer holidays, and over time gradually learned & evolved strategies that could help both my daughter and I have a better time.
Here are some tried and trusted ways of making things easier for yourself, so that you and your kids can spend some quality time together enjoying yourselves, and make the holidays pass in a relatively stress-free manner.

1. Get up before your kids.
Waking up while the house is quiet, before mayhem breaks out, gives us a chance to think constructively and get ahead of the game. Even 15 minutes spent thinking about the day or week ahead in a peaceful environment, can transform the way they turn out.

2. Use music to set the tone.

When your kids are up and jumping about, get them to let off steam immediately with some energising music and stretching/ dance moves before breakfast. You could mix it up a bit with mini trampettes or blow up gym balls to bounce on. The exercise will oxygenate their brains, and the bouncing can be calming and alerting. It’s also great fun – you may want to join in!!

Use the positive power of music in the home throughout the day. Another really great time is during car rides. Many kids with additional needs absolutely love car rides with music. Get them involved in choosing and bringing their favourite tapes along. Singing along is a great way to make long journeys pass more pleasantly.

3. Eat healthy!

While a quick bowl of cereal may seem like an easy option, especially during the morning rush of term time, cereals are often packed with sugar to make them enticing. A blood-sugar spike early in the day will inevitably lead to a sugar crash later on, and moody, grumpy kids (& parents) could be just the result you don’t want. (sorry sugary cereal manufacturers!)
Try finding low or no sugar alternatives, preferably the wholemeal versions, and getting the kids involved in choosing and making their own breakfast.
There is plenty of evidence to show that a high protein, high vitamin breakfast is one way to enhance your thinking and staying power throughout the day.

There’s a heap of advice on diet for kids with additional needs in Additude magazine; click here to learn more breakfast tips.

For your own sanity keep food simple and healthy, and do your shopping in as few runs as possible.

I have experienced many less than ideal occasions, from shopping with a child who would rather be anywhere else in the world than in a shop, and is liable to duck off behind the aisles at any moment. Less is definitely more!

4.Use visual timetables.

For many kids with additional needs, uncertainty over what is happening next can play a huge part in how anxious they feel, which can result in increases in unmanageable behaviour as their anxiety escalates. To help them feel more relaxed, try creating a simple visual chart so everyone knows what the plan for the day/ week is. Just a basic board with spaces for morning, afternoon and evening, with the positions of mealtimes indicated, helps reduce uncertainty and can form a talking point if you get asked the inevitable, ” What are we doing today mum, dad?”

If you use re-usable stick-on photos or pictures, then you also have a handy way to involve your kids in discussions about what they would like to be doing next.

You can take photos of the good times you have together, and use them on the timetable, or add as another scrapbook activity you can do on a rainy day as a record of your holiday times together. This can be a great memory jogger when it comes to next year as well!

5. Give your kids quality time early in the day.

After much trial and error I found that giving my daughter some quality “mum time” early on in the day, gave her the stimulation and reassurance she needed, so that she was able to go on to do other activities more independently, as the day progressed.

6. Plan time outside

Get outside in the fresh air and sun as much as possible and have fun! There are huge health and well-being benefits to spending time outside every day if the weather permits. With a picnic rug for parents to sit on, the play park or nearest green space can provide hours of accessible activity for youngsters with plenty of energy. If you are lucky enough to live near the coast then what could be better than the beach in summer? Depending on the age ranges and abilities /inclinations of your kids there are hundreds of things to be done outside. Balls, bats, sticky bats, chalks, sticks, skittles, bowls, bean bags are just a few of the wide range of flexible activities available.

Energetic activities can be interspersed with quieter time, making or collecting or drawing things. If your kids are older take them on an adventure or organise a treasure hunt with clues. There are some good books available on the subject if you are short of ideas: e.g.  for the younger children click here

For older kids try these: 101 Things Kids Do Outside

and Go Wild! : 101 Things to do Outdoors before you Grow Up

There are plenty of ideas in these suggestions as well as ideas for rainy days.

7. Play games.

Even if it’s the very last thing you feel like doing, have a few games, action rhymes or songs up your sleeve that you know will appeal to your child/children for different situations.

Games have many positive benefits, and they don’t all need to be done solo from an iPad or phone! Playing with others will teach your kids many skills including the invaluable art of getting along with other people and how to lose gracefully!

8. Encourage choice making.

Build in plenty of occasions where your child can have a choice between different things to do. This helps build up their self-esteem and confidence, as well as making them think about and practice making choices and understanding the consequences.

9. Enlist the help of others.

Trying to do it all on your own can be too much!  If you’re a single parent like I was for many years, you can all too easily end up feeling isolated and like no-one understands you. Reach out to the other parents you meet, join a local support group or play scheme if your kids are younger, and then they can grow up with other kids they are familiar with, even if you can only get together in holidays and half-terms. It can be an idea to spread these contacts wider than the sphere of just within school friends, and can broaden your kids and your own horizons.

You could offer to help with child minding, and set up reciprocal arrangements so you parents can give each other a well-deserved break.

10. Allow down time

Make sure you plan in some down-time into your holiday periods. You aren’t obliged to be on the go the whole time, and as I discovered, you will soon come to the end of your tethers if you try to cram too much in.

For kids as well, down time has been shown to stimulate creative thinking and is a time for them to re-charge their batteries with the pressure off.

11. Make contingency plans.

Having a back up plan is a good idea, especially with our summer weather being so unpredictable. There are other occasions, apart from rainy days, where you may find it helpful to have an alternative up your sleeve, for if things don’t turn out the way you hoped.

Kids can get sick unexpectedly, or hurt themselves and need a visit to A&E, or throw a wobbly at the thought of entering that exciting dark science museum you just paid a small fortune to get in to, only to have them want to leave again immediately, and if you don’t they will let everyone in a half mile radius know just what a mean, cruel mummy you are in their best, extreeemely loud shouting voice!!

However well we try and plan things, there are times when it’s not going to work out, but hey! Life happens after all. Sometimes we may need to retreat to the nearest source of sustenance, and just decide to give up and try again another day.

I wish you happy holidays 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember this……

Remember this ….

People with ADHD often find it hard to remember to do things that they intend to do.
It’s very common for people with ADHD/ADD to be challenged with working memory difficulties. Among other things working memory allows us to hold things in mind and then when its time to do something , recall that information and act on it.
Take the example below for instance …..

This morning started well. I went and switched my computer on, intending to do some work for a while before breakfast. I realised that I needed to set my time timer so that I didn’t go over the 20 minutes that I had available. I got up and walked into the other room to get it, promptly forgot what I had gone in there for, and in an attempt to  remember what it was, assumed it must be my glasses, which I happened to have on the top of my head at the time. I moved them onto the front of my eyes, and marched out of the room into my office again, only to realise that of course it was my time timer I had gone in the other room for. So back I went again to collect it. Sat down in front of the computer, and completely forgot to put it on and set it. I got on with my task for a while, luckily happened to glance at the clock, and then realised what I had done.

I imagine this to be a fairly typical scenario experienced by many people with working memory difficulties. Add this to impulsivity, distractibility, possibly even hyperactivity, and almost certainly emotional regulation difficulties, and you have fun and games on the ADHD menu – or maybe not.
I can laugh about it now, however these things that I mention above were not actually life threatening circumstances, nor were the things I forgot to do, or lost track of, vital to my survival. It would have been extremely annoying if I had completely forgotten what time it was, and not looked up or broken off what I was doing until way past the time I needed to stop, and it might even have been excruciatingly embarrassing as well, but it wouldn’t have involved hurting or letting down anyone else, at least not on this particular occasion.

I’ve lost track of the number of times that I have felt I’ve let myself and other people down by missing important dates or appointments for instance, even though they were carefully recorded in my diary. However for a diary system to work, it is necessary to remember to actually check and look in your diary, or the system inevitably breaks down. Such are some of the challenges we face.
Taken day after day and year after year, these sort of things grind you down, waste your time and energy, destroy your trust in yourself and hammer your self-confidence and self-esteem to a pulp.

Before I knew I had ADHD and learned about the impact of working memory, I never realised just how much of the chaos in my life was caused by this inability to recall significant information like people’s birthdays in a timely manner or keep my intentions in mind long enough to act on them.
As another example, many of my family members have birthdays in October, and yet how many years have gone by when I have only realised what day of the month it was, or the significance of that day, when it had already gone past. I had many names for myself. Person with ADHD and working memory challenges was not among them in those days. Looking back, I can easily remember that I thought I must be some kind of uncaring irresponsible monster to virtually never be able to get cards off in time for the actual day.
Without the real explanation to work with, it is all too easy for us to buy into the negative stereotype labels that other people start off giving us when we are children and teenagers, and which we get so used to that we start believing them ourselves.

Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel, for people experiencing these working memory challenges. Once you can identify that you have these difficulties, and where they are impacting you in your life, you are in a much better position to be able to do something about them.
There are many strategies out there developed by and for other people with similar working memory difficulties. There are apps, there are technologies, there are inventions, and there are reminders of all shapes and sizes that can help people with working memory challenges. Bit by bit, step by step it is possible to address the most crippling aspects of this disempowering condition and aspect of ADHD, and other conditions, and begin to take control.

I urge you if you are affected in this way to go out there and see what you can find. Experiment and see what works for you. Over time I have tried and discarded many methods, yet I have found a few supports that really work well for me. Sometimes I need to ring the changes a bit, and try a new way of doing things, just to keep me engaged and interested. I still do slip up occasionally with keeping track of and remembering important dates, but the improvement continues to help me move forwards and feel much more optimistic.

Give it a go, and I would be delighted to hear from you about your own experiences!

Hello world!

Hello world indeed!  and a very warm hello from me on my first ever blog post!

It’s a funny thing about us ADDers, (  aka people with ADHD/ADD for those wondering what I’m talking about) but sometimes coming to a decision can take longer than doing the thing we are actually trying to make a decision about!

I’ve been erming and ahhing over setting up a blog post for a few weeks now, and thinking about the whys and wherefores, and what to do, and what to write, and who shall I get to host it and what software etc etc.

Then this afternoon I made a decision to just go for it and literally in about 15 minutes, it was all done! What ! Yes, it really was that simple!

Of course , writing the actual words is taking me a tad longer than that, but the interface was up & running, ready & waiting to receive my words, whatever they might be. So I thought I would just tell everyone who may be considering, and cogitating on this very same issue, i.e. setting up a blog post, that no it’s not difficult, and yes it may well if you are anything like me, take longer to think about than it takes to do it.

I hope you will take heart from my experience, and if you need to know which blogging platform I am using look no further than the bottom of this page:)

That’s all for now, and I’ll be posting another very soon,

Until then,

Take care,

ADHD Coach Anna