ADHD can leave us deflated, desperate, just trying to hold on, or maybe even clinging to a life preserver for dear life.
This impacts so many aspects of our lives especially when we continue to put everyone and everything else above our own needs. Taking care of ourselves is hard to do and is even harder when you are not even on the list. How do we get ourselves on it, and not be the first thing bumped?
Self-care is vital to our health and well-being and IS NOT SELFISH. When we have ADHD, our capacity to function, lifespan, and dare we say it, even our ability to enjoy life, depends on swapping out that life preserver to put on our oxygen mask first.
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- The struggle 01:23
- may seem a radical idea, we need to be on the list and at the top, but we are rarely the shiny thing
- so easy to get left off, or bumped
- what if we could direct our life instead of reacting to, and pay attention to the things we wanted to, do less of the things we don’t want to, and have the ability to listen to ourselves?
- ADHD can be all consuming, and lead to social challenges, anxiety, hiding, internalizing and can be a constant battle within
- The impacts show up in our health, hormones, stress, emotions, relationships, moods and desperation for an answer
- Self-care starting at the beginning 03:15
- Need time and space to help ourselves get the food, rest, hydration, movement, mindfulness and time outdoors that SIGNIFICANTLY helps us
- Improves our health, well-being and lifespan
- It takes help and practice to make it stick
- Order and Routine from someone who naturally changes things 04:24
- Routine doesn’t come easy
- How to avoid brushing teeth with deodorant
- Practice, supports and ways to make it easier for our brains 05:22
- Why Self-care is not Selfish 06:11
- What do you love to do and how to start considering your list 07:23
- Getting real about my own list 07:54
- Putting on our own oxygen masks 08:51
- Practicing putting myself on the list 10:06
- How the changes are working & being a recovering perfectionist 11:16
- Episode Recap 12:49
- Closing 14:35
Resources related to this episode
Moira Maybin 00:00
Today I’m talking about how to get ourselves on the list and why self-care is not selfish. If you have ADHD or know anyone who does and trust me, you do. You are going to want to hear this. I learned this the hard way. I don’t want that for you.
Moira Maybin 00:13
For show notes and more information on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com
Moira Maybin 00:21
Welcome to the ADHD friendly lifestyle podcast, for those of us with ADHD, who have had enough with trying harder and want to reduce frustration and overwhelm. It’s time to literally put on our own oxygen mask first, so we can finally breathe and make it possible to show up in our own lives without guilt or shame. Join me as we dive into the stories, adventures, and mishaps, all while trying to make sense of the published research that could make your tomorrow a more ADHD friendly day.
Moira Maybin 00:47
I’m your host, Moira Maybin, a woman mom, an educator who had no clue about my own ADHD until I was 45. I suspect many of us have asked the same questions I did over and over again. Why is life so hard? Why does it seem easier for literally everyone else? There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner. Now that I know what those things are the knowledge allows me to make different decisions to make my life better and more ADHD friendly. I finally understand that to live well, my lifestyle is not negotiable. It has to work for me, and it has to be healthy. And Yep, it’s got to be ADHD friendly.
Moira Maybin 01:23
I’d like you to consider what may seem a radical idea, we need to be on the list and at the top, but we are rarely the shiny thing. And I know that even when we remember to put ourselves on the list, there can be so many things that bump us off, probably whatever’s right in front of us. But what if we could direct our life instead of reacting, to pay attention to the things we wanted to, do less of the things we don’t want to and have the ability to listen to ourselves? Sounds like a pretty tall order, right? Well, there is a way to get there. And it’s been backed up by research. Stay here with me. While I explain this.
Moira Maybin 01:57
ADHD can be all-consuming. It impacts me socially with uncertainty, insecurity, second-guessing, and being oblivious. Sometimes this all causes anxiety too. There are days, it is harder to transition. And I spend more time just wanting to be in my own head and do my own thing. I hate having to second guess, doubt, double-check and do things that I really don’t want to do. But at times feel compelled to do, we can feel controlled by our thoughts, sometimes responsibilities, our own expectations, and the ones that we think others have for us. Many of us are also hiding and internalizing this battle. There may be eruptions that show our distress, or we may lose our light and joy, stress levels, increase moods, worsen. Hormones get out of whack, weight is gained. There’s anger, sadness, overwhelm, and frustration until we break down or burnout physically, mentally, or both. We look around for help to figure it out. I used to often think, just tell me what to do. And then I can fix things. And yes, we often feel like change is too difficult. But when things are already difficult, what do we have to lose? How do we start to trust ourselves to listen and pay attention to what we know or want to do?
Moira Maybin 03:15
When we make space and time to engage in important self-care, like the basic practices of eating, sleeping, moving, hydrating, mindfulness, and time in nature, they help significantly. Research shows that the more people with ADHD understand the vital importance of self-care, and have ways to make it easier to do., It improves health, wellbeing, and our lifespan. I use the word practice intentionally when we practice, we don’t have to get it right. Because it’s practice. There’s no right or wrong. It’s practice, we miss a practice. It’s not a failure or a setback. Well, because it’s practice. So there’s no judgment or shame. Because Say it with me, it’s practice.
Moira Maybin 03:58
While it may be simple to say that we need to know more about the basics of proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and meditation, to have our brains be at their best, it’s a whole other kettle of fish to make it happen, and happen consistently enough that it becomes well, routine, and that we both want to do these things, and actually do these things. Hmm, there’s a few things to unpack.
Moira Maybin 04:24
So I’m not really a person who does things in the same order very often. I still have intentions of doing things that way, but I’ll change it somehow because it just doesn’t feel right today. But with lots of trial and error, the more often I can do things close enough or almost the same. It makes it easier for me in my brain, my time runs better, I forget fewer things and I’m less likely to try and brush my teeth with deodorant. Just saying. I do need consistent reminders to keep things the same, or I will change it up again, just because. The other thing that I have learned is when I do things that are good for me, enough times, and have supports to get me to do the thing, that I actually start to want, or need those things, more regularly. Who knew? I built many habits that way, drinking more water. Going to bed earlier, getting more regular activity. The support is finding ways to make it easier to start the thing, once I get going, I’m usually fine.
Moira Maybin 05:22
It helps so much to set up my space-time and actions to have as little friction as possible to increase the chance I will do the thing, that I actually want to do. I have two toothbrushes, one in each bathroom. So it doesn’t matter which one I wander into in the morning or evening, it’s that much easier to remember or follow through. I have multiple hooks in my bedroom and bathrooms. So when clothes come off, that isn’t ready to go into the laundry, they can be put on a hook and not on the floor. So much easier than actually putting them away, which isn’t going to happen. We even changed our kids towel racks to hooks, so there isn’t even an expectation that they’re folded nicely on a towel rack the night before, I’ll get my workout clothes out for the morning so that when I get up, I don’t have to think I’ll just put them on. That means I’ll go exercise. If I didn’t do that, there’s a high chance that I would not follow through.
Moira Maybin 06:11
Taking the time to care for ourselves is not often valued. When we look to our helping professionals, it’s easy to see that many of them are also struggling with the same things we do. Lack of sleep time nutrition, weight, exercise, social media use, the list can go on and on. If this is hard for most people, what will work for us? Making self-care a priority and accepting that it is not selfish is important for people with ADHD for a number of reasons. It is really hard work for us to remember, plan and do all those mundane yet necessary things over and over again. And it is these habits that will determine the quality and length of our life. We’re also more likely to be bored, angry, scared, tired, hungry, and attentive, hyper-focused, or overwhelmed. It’s important to have healthy ways to deal with this. And most of us don’t learn how to do that on our own. The skills we need include ways to develop self-awareness, acceptance, compassion, and advocacy skills so that we can help ourselves with support and over time.
Moira Maybin 07:23
What do you love to do? Have you done it lately? Do you have a to-do list? Are you on it? If you make the list? How often do you get bumped? Want to know how to get on the list? How is your lifestyle these days? Do you want to try a small change in your eating, sleeping, moving, or hydration that will make your body feel better? Well, a place to start is to have an honest look at what is currently in your life and causing you stress. I now know that I have less time and energy than is possible to do all the things. And I’ve accepted that. Well, mostly.
Moira Maybin 07:54
I started to think about what the important and stressful parts of my life really looks like, not what I was trying to cram into it. So both my children have ADHD. And one of them has a learning disability. I have a spouse who travels regularly for work, when not during a pandemic. I fell 50 feet off a cliff two and a half years ago and still have some healing to do. I had back surgery in the fall and have daily rehab. I’m in perimenopause, which changes the severity of my ADHD symptoms due to hormones. Thanks, hormones. I have other health conditions that take time and energy to manage. The school system. and how I function as a teacher, creates an incredible stress load for me, and I’m exploring ways that I can fulfill my professional dreams. My parents are aging, my cute dog wants love attention, and walking. And then there are friends that I hope to see this year in person. We’re still in a worldwide pandemic. And oh yeah, I have ADHD and was only diagnosed at 45. So that’s a ball of wax to be unraveled.
Moira Maybin 08:51
I can’t get rid of many of those things. But what can help for me a big part of it is accepting that this is my reality. This is different than sacrificing myself or my own needs. These things are all true but if I’m going to show up care for and be involved in my loved one’s lives, then I need to be strong, healthy, and capable in my own life, mind, and body. The only way I can do that is if I put on my own oxygen mask. First, you will hear me say that often because it’s such a valuable message. We cannot help or serve anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves first. We cannot draw from an empty well.
Moira Maybin 09:26
So what am I going to do about it? When I think about how these things are affecting me. There’s a lot on my list about my health. So that has become my primary focus, improving my health and reducing my stress due to the back surgery. I’m at home these days. So I’m not involved in the day-to-day challenges of teaching or working in a school during the pandemic that has done a lot to help with my own stress level. At the same time. It’s given me the time and space to figure out what my next step is. I need to be around for my kids, my parents, and my dog as they’re all important to me. And I know that the coming decade is going to be when they are going to need me the most, I want to have space and time for me them and reduce my stress so that I stay healthy.
Moira Maybin 10:06
As I’ve worked through this process in the past, it has required me to let go of ideas and things and say goodbye to people, places jobs, a dream home, and things that were not helping me anymore, but making my life harder, even if I thought I had wanted it, or they were typical expectations in our society. I’m okay with that because I now have peace of mind and that has nothing to do with any external condition. But when I look at my life, even with its imperfections, it’s headed in the direction of becoming more friendly too. And for me, I practice putting myself and my needs first on the list. And to have the bravery to show vulnerability. I practice asking for help. I practice walking away even if I can’t finish the thing, because my needs need attention. Now, on the hard days, I work to reshape the day to take care of myself. To do this, I’ve had to try new things, tweak things, learn how to ask for help, make mistakes, and try again, this includes saying no to a lot of things. If it doesn’t help me to put on my own oxygen mask first. or more importantly, it limits my ability to take care of myself. I’m saying no more often saying we need to do this is simple. But it’s not easy. They do get easier with practice.
Moira Maybin 11:16
The changes are working, I can pay better attention to myself, my needs, and I am doing things differently than I have in the past. The successes feel awesome. The freedom I feel when I can stop or be done, not everything, but what I set out to do. By knowing how long things take, allowing extra time, and having enough time for what I planned. I need more of those experiences. because then I feel like I have free will and my day doesn’t feel overscheduled.
Moira Maybin 11:45
I am a perfectionist in recovery, I need to monitor my capacity and how to live within it. And that is still really hard. My mental health is getting the attention it needs. I continue to try new supports to help ease my load. When I gave up trying to get everything done, figure it all out or have certainty some of the stress began to melt away, then I began expecting that I will make mistakes, let people down screw up, get it wrong, entirely forget to go to a meeting, or pick up my class or just have to throw in the towel as I am too tired. Even when I don’t want any of those things to happen. expect that be kind and forgiving about it. And then go back to what works–self-care, self-compassion, and tools, which help align our goals and intentions with how we want to spend our time. I’ll try to get to bed on time with the hope that tomorrow will be an ADHD friendly day. And if it’s not, I’ll change things up and ask for help.
Moira Maybin 12:43
Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode.
Moira Maybin 12:49
Number one, self-care is not selfish, especially for those of us with ADHD. Because we find it so easy to distrust ourselves doubt, worry, and fear. And we are more likely to struggle with actually taking care of ourselves or knowing ways that we can make it easier to practice self-care. And self-care significantly improves our health, well-being, and lifespan. And it takes support and practice to develop workable and healthy options for eating, sleeping, moving, hydrating, mindfulness, and having time in nature alongside medication and therapy.
Moira Maybin 13:25
Number two. To do that we have to get ourselves on the list. Do you have a to-do list? Are you on it? How quickly do you get bumped off it? What do you love to do? And have you done it lately?
Moira Maybin 13:36
Number three, you can take a closer look at how you can get yourself on the list by making a list of the stressors in your life. Add in how those stressful things are impacting you. Then look at how they fit into three possible types. Which ones could be reduced by problem-solving? Which ones could be improved with tweaks or changes to your lifestyle? And for the ones that can’t be eliminated? Are there things that could be added to help minimize the stressors?
Moira Maybin 14:02
some bonus ideas to consider– Are who’s there for you? What help do you need? What can you put off? Is there a small change that you could make to your eating sleeping, moving hydration that will make your body feel better?
Moira Maybin 14:15
In future episodes, we will dig deeper into these topics as I totally get it how hard it is for us to get enough ways to care for ourselves and moving in ways that we love and feel peaceful. You are not alone in this. We are all learning and struggling together. But it can be better. There are supports we can use with each other and for ourselves.
Moira Maybin 14:35
I hope you enjoy today’s show. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, and professionals, those who want to understand ADHD to be heard and know they’re not alone. An ADHD friendly lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a lifestyle that works for us. I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s episode. There are lots of ways to get in touch. You can Check out my website, ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com, or comment below in this podcast. All questions will be anonymous, respected, and appreciated. And I can’t wait to continue this conversation with you. But please remember I am not a doctor. And the information presented in this podcast doesn’t replace the individual recommendations from your health care providers. You can help by sharing the podcast with the people in your life. And by taking the time to rate review and subscribe to the ADHD friendly lifestyle on iTunes, or the podcast player of your choice.
Moira Maybin 15:31
Thanks for listening. Stay tuned for the next episode as we work to build our ADHD friendly lifestyles together.
See you later