We get many requests from people for ideas about non-medicinal ways to help them manage ADHD, anxiety, stress and other issues. In this newsletter you'll find an idea from Rebecca Shafir about "walking meditation" that you may want to try - particularly now as the weather starts to warm. We have also provided a link to a short video about the effect of practice on the brain. We hope you enjoy both.
Melissa Orlov, editor
Q: I am a certified athletic trainer in New Jersey. Do you have any information on ADHD athletes and their recovery time from sustaining a concussion? I have heard that recovery time is longer for these athletes.
A from Dr. John Ratey: I do not think that there is anything different with ADHD concussions unless there is a history of head injuries that have led to the ADHD in the first place or there is a frank post- concussive syndrome. Both of these have their own attentional issues.
Q: My adult son with a masters degree and many professional credits seems unable to attack a negative outlook. Can you give me any information about this subject?
A: You do not say whether or not your son has ADHD, but in any event, depression is a serious illness. Your son needs to see a doctor about his. In addition, he should try some non-medicinal approaches to treating depression. Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise 5-7 times a week can work as well as Zoloft on mild to moderate depression. In addition, cognitive based mind therapy (CBMT), which is a form of exercise/meditation, has also been shown to decrease depression. FInally, there is a great deal of research to suggest that strong personal connections to others also helps alleviate depression.
No time to exercise? No time to meditate? You may want to try walking meditation this spring to help you focus and calm down. Even if you?re Crazy Busy, consider this combined form of stress release and concentration practice. You can practice walking meditation anywhere, anytime. A wooded path, the perimeter of a parking lot or a long hallway will do!
Agree with yourself to set aside your thoughts about the past and future. Resolve to stay in the present. When other thoughts come into your mind, let them pass and get back to your breathing and walking. It doesn?t matter how often other thoughts intrude into your consciousness, what matters is how often you notice the diversion and get back on track. To help you stay in the present tense repeat this mantra to yourself while you walk:
?Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.? As you begin your walk say this to yourself with every breath you take in. ?Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.? Say this to yourself with every exhale. Start to focus on your body movements at the same time with your breaths. Lift your torso, relax your shoulders. Feel your footsteps on the ground as you walk along. Feel the solidness of the earth. Feel the air enter your lungs. Focus on as much of your body as you can until it becomes natural.
You will notice that you are relaxing and you are not stomping your feet. Your breaths will slow down, as well. See if you can walk additional steps between breaths comfortably. Find your pace all the time focusing on breathing in & breathing out. As you breathe in feel your energy increase. As you exhale feel relieved of stress and past/future issues. Note the natural rhythm of your body, your heart beating in rhythm with your movements. Your movements will now feel more fluid and flowing.
When you are finished walking, you will find a greater peace. This will help you to concentrate on your to-do lists and get more done in less time with greater efficiency. Start with just a few minutes of walking meditation every day. As you begin to notice the benefits, you?ll find yourself wanting to extend to your walks to 20, 30 minutes or longer a day.
- Becky Shafir
As Dr. Hallowell points out in "Delivered from Distraction", the time when young adults leave home to go to college or out into the work world can be very difficult for those with ADHD. This is because this is the first time that many of these teens have had to organize their own lives. At the same time, many change doctors or move into a new health organization and don't follow up as carefully on their ADHD treatments.
It is important that parents and teens anticipate this transition and plan for it. Parents need to teach their students specific life skills AND they need to consciously back away from the interdependent kind of relationship they have had with their child for the past years. Things such as managing money, learning how to manage credit cards so that debt does not pile up, learning how to do the laundry - even making sure your child is responsible for getting himself out of bed each day on time - are important for the next stage.
It is sometimes hard to learn that there are consequences for certain types of actions if a supportive parent "covers" for an ADHD child all the way through high school. For example, in my household if my daughter couldn't get dressed in time to make the bus, I would provide "back-up" and drive her to school. But then her doctor told me to stop that - that she needed to learn how to get herself out of the house on time. So, we agreed that if she didn't make the bus she would have to walk to a much further bus stop for a different bus that arrived 15 minutes later. If she missed that bus she had to ride her bike (in good weather). Avoiding the extra walk provided her the incentive to get to her normal bus on time and I learned a valuable lesson about the thin line between support and enabling poor behavior.
So, if you have a child with ADHD who is preparing to go off to college or a job, help him by teaching him self-sufficiency.
A quick note on this - driving and drinking is NOT an area where you should let a teen learn by doing. There is ample evidence to suggest that this is one area where you should stay very involved and vigilant. Monitor your child's driving and/or offer to help out or drive whenever necessary.
Documentary on Drug and Alcohol Addictions to Start- HBO is starting a new documentary series on the very serious topic of addiction this Thursday that looks as if it will be very good. The series is produced in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The series argues that addiction is a chronic brain disease that is treatable and offers a primer on the state of medicine, science and treatment options available today. It also explores what addictions do to the 23.2 Americans estimated to need treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Only about 10% of that number actually are receiving treatment. The show will focus on drugs and alcohol because "these are things that can destroy your life".
Look for more information about the program content or air dates, go to the link below.
CrazyBusy Wins "Books for Better Life" Award - Dr. Hallowell recently won an important literary award for his book, CrazyBusy. This is a sort of "academy award" for the book world. Congratulations!
The Hallowell Center in Sudbury continues its group support. Current groups include a group for women, one for those in their 20's and 30's, one for teenage girls, career coaching sessions, and a special set of summer coaching sessions for college students who need more help succeeding there.
For specific information about these groups, go to the link below.
Dr. Hallowell is pleased to announce that Rosalind Wiseman will be joining the last session of his three- week phone course on the topic of ADHD and Girls. The course starts THIS WEEK on March 14th at 8:00pm. There is still time to sign up at the link below.
Dr. Hallowell will talk specifically about the challenges that face girls with ADHD and how to help them build self-esteem. Ms. Wiseman will hold a conversation with Dr. Hallowell that will interweave her expertise on the social pressures facing girls with Dr. Hallowell's expertise in ADHD. It promises to be an unique and truly interesting course - please join us.
The course is given live by phone on three consecutive Wednesday evenings, starting March 14th. Each session runs from 8:00-9:15pm. The cost for the course is $142.50. Those who miss a session can download a recording of it so that they can keep up.
One of our readers sent in this link to a short video produced by the New York Times on the topic of mylenation in the brain. It is a very interesting look at how mylenation improves brain function...and how practice improves mylenation.