By Rick Green
Even now, a decade and a half after learning what’s up with me, my ADHD can be a challenge. Daily. Sometimes hourly. It never stops completely. It’s never ‘cured.’
Is it the same for you? Simply reading that statement might have sucked a bit more energy out of you. It can be disheartening. Because we really are trying so hard.
One of the ways I’ve overcome the challenges of managing time, stuff, ideas, and work has been to turn the onerous tasks into a challenge. With a time limit. A goal. Testing myself.
In other words… I make it into a game.
Games Are Not Kid Stuff
Sounds like I’m not taking it seriously, doesn’t it. Because what do you do with a game? You play! And play is for kids, right? Or so we’ve been told.
Obviously you’ve never seen professional athletes play football. Or golfers on the professional circuit. (They call them ‘players.’) Games can be powerful. (Not just on Game of Thrones.)
Loads and loads and loads of scientific research says that the best way humans learn is through play.
Think about it, when were you learning the most? In early childhood. Learning to speak, walk, run, climb, and a thousand skills. And how did you learn?
By playing at it. If you haven’t read Dr. Kirsten Milliken’s book, PlayDHD I highly recommend it. She offers a ton of suggestions on how to make ADHD strategies into ‘play.’ Dealing with this disorder can be work, or it can be play. You get to choose.
As we get older, we turn play into games. And you only have to watch two college football teams on the field to see how hard we adults can play.
It’s My Game. I Make up The Rules
Whenever I dread a routine task, I make into a game. For example, I said to Ava “I bet I can write a blog in under 30 minutes”. It’s now after 10 pm on a busy day. We had just celebrated my daughter’s birthday, earlier I mowed and weeded the lawn, we spent 30 minutes watering our veggie garden in the hot sun, did two or three loads of laundry, and a half dozen other things. The point is, I’m beat. Normally I love writing blogs, but after all of that activity, and just as much every day for the past two weeks… I was ready for bed.
What got me to sit and type was turning it into a game.
I’m about 12 minutes in. And I think I may be able to pull this off.
The Challenge is to Make This a Game
It’s been a while since we did one of these games here. But I know they are popular.
So, on top of everything else each of us is already doing, or not doing, or avoiding, or half finishing… ha ha… we’re going to add an extra element to the week (or whenever you read this).
Now, you may say you already have too much to do, or, ‘I’m not getting done what I need to do now.’ But I have found that adding a game to my week is energizing. It wakes up the ADHD brain, pumps more good chemicals into my bloodstream, and has me alert and focused.
Switch Things Around
So here’s the game. It’s simple. We’ve done it before here at TotallyADD, and it proved to be popular and powerful.
Do things with your your other hand. Your non-dominant hand.
For one week, every time you think of it, use your other hand. If you hold your hairbrush or hairdryer with your right hand, switch to your left hand. For one whole week.
Okay, not that you stand there for a whole week holding the hairdryer in your hand. Just when you’re drying your hair. Or if you dry your child’s hair, brush your pets fur, deal cards for Euchre, enter your PIN number, dial your phone. Whatever you automatically, and unconsciously do with one hand, switch it up to the other.
Suddenly I am Conscious and Focused
If you apply your shaving cream with your right hand, switch. (Shave with your usual hand. I cut myself switching. And I stabbed my gums with a toothbrush when I switched, so avoid that one too.)
But switch hands when locking doors. Or pulling money from your wallet. Or at the self-serve gas pump. The elevator buttons. And so on. Flush the toilet, butter your toast, and hold your TV remote in the other hand (Not at the same time).
Switch your wrist watch, or your Fit-bit to your other arm, your wallet to your opposite pocket, your purse to the other shoulder.
It Took All of My Concentration
The point of this is not to become ambidextrous. It’s to become mindful.
You’ve heard about mindfulness. It’s a form of meditation you can do anywhere, at any time, and it’s powerful. I’ve found, and a huge body of studies have confirmed, it helps with ADHD. Which is why we made a video about it with a whole series of guided mindfulness exercises by one of the top researchers on mindfulness and ADHD, Dr Lidia Zylowska.
Mindfulness is a practice… that you practice… the act of being totally present. (Which we never are, but we get closer.) Aware of what I’m doing right now.
I have found that when I’m doing something with my ‘wrong’ hand, I’m like a child who’s first learning to; tie shoelaces, or print, or throw a ball… and I’m totally present.
Mindfulness Anywhere and Everywhere
Use your other hand when you’re wiping up spills, stirring coffee, sorting, tidying, highlighting documents, turning pages on your i-Pad, dealing cards, switching your coffee maker on.
Don’t do anything potentially dangerous with your ‘other hand’—applying eye-liner, washing expensive dishes, carving a turkey, pouring hot beverages, running power tools, signing important documents, driving a manual transmission, or entering the World Arm Wrestling Championships.
In other words, be careful.
The Game Is Afoot! Or, a Hand…
This isn’t a competition. If you only remember to do it a few times, that’s fine. If you jump in and then totally forget, it’s an opportunity to figure out what’s missing, what would have helped you to remember. Because, this may not be the only thing you’ve committed to and then let slip. (I glance over at the whiteboard with all my To-Do’s on it and shudder as I write this.)
Just notice how it goes when you do it.
How difficult is it? How do you normally do it? Notice how quickly your brain adapts. You’re actually creating new brain pathways when you do this exercise. And it forces you to be present and mindful about what you are doing.
Which is powerful for us ADHD folks.
I’m In! How About You?
OK! Blog game done, and now I’m gonna play this switch it up game.
I’m inviting you to join me.
Just type, “I’m in!” Or maybe “My mom and I are in!”
As your week progresses, let everyone here know what you’re discovering. (Since you may be reading this months after I blogged, your week will be a different one from mine. But please share your thoughts anyway. We’ll see them!)
Let everyone know if you’re more focused? Clumsier? Agitated? Strangely calm? What happens when you’re not using your familiar, habitual, automatic way of going through your day.
In fact, to play this game you’ll first have to distinguish which hand you normally use to hold the shampoo bottle or open a beer.
And remember, it’s a game. Play and be playful.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to comment