In my last article I told about a kid with ADHD symptoms who I was working with in my practice. I taught him to connect his love of hockey with doing science homework, which he was currently getting F’s in because he was bored. He used hockey cards and posters and music to do this and he ended up getting A’s in Science as a result.
That’s an example of someone with ADHD symptoms connecting something they love and something they’re not that excited about together to make it at least a semi-exciting experience.
Today, Stephanie Frank and I are going to going to talk about how to use sensory stimulation with Adult ADHD symptoms–using all five senses–to help focus the brain with Adult ADHD.
An example of this is when I have to do the dishes–something I find extremely boring. It’s hard for me to stand there for more than two minutes. My ADHD symptoms kick in and I wander off. So here’s what I do to stay focused when I do the dishes.
First I make myself a nice pot of coffee (ever noticed how people with Adult ADHD love coffee?). The second thing I do when I want to get a household chore done at high speed is, a technique I started using after we came up with this hockey idea for the kid with ADHD symptoms I was working with: except I use a different interest.
I’m a distance runner. I love running. So, I actually will get in my running clothes, shoes, shorts, and shirt, and do the dishes at high speed while dressed up like a runner. It’s kind of a funny sight, but it works. It works really well–and can work great for anyone Adult ADHD symptoms.
Stephanie Frank explains why this really works with Adult ADHD symptoms:
Stephanie: Let’s talk about why that works with Adult ADHD, Tellman. If you’re focusing on something, you’re probably doing it unconsciously. You’re not even aware of all the things that are happening. Let’s bring that up to the awareness level that people with Adult ADHD symptoms operate at.
The point is that when you want to focus, people with Adult ADHD symptoms have a brain, a body, a mind that works automatically in kind of a multi-tasking sort of a mode. People with Adult ADHD can accomplish many, many things at once, whereas most people without ADHD symptoms have to go from one thing to the next thing to the next thing.
Because you have Adult ADHD symptoms, you like to do lots of things at once. This is because when you sit down and you try to just focus on this one thing, what happens is your brain almost rebels. It shuts down. It gets to that point where it says, “Ugh. I’m so bored. There’s not enough stimulus. There’s nothing going on. I can’t just focus on this one thing because I have such a capacity to do more things.”
The basic premise for getting something done with Adult ADHD symptoms, especially when it’s something you don’t like to do, is very simple, and it’s this: you have to involve multiple senses. You have to involve all your senses.
Tellman said that he puts on a pot of coffee for the sense of smell. Of course, caffeine doesn’t hurt, right? So right there, you can smell the coffee. Then he puts on his running clothes. That’s kinesthetic. That’s feeling in your body. You could also light a candle. That could be a visual sense that doesn’t distract, or it could be a smell too.
You can play music. That is auditory. So, you’ve got your entire body, all your senses involved and being stimulated…and your ADHD symptoms are just soaking it up, actually helping you to focus more…did I get all the senses?
Tellman: Well, you’re talking about visual, kinesthetic, auditory or hearing, olfactory, and gustatory which is smell and taste. Then, some people would say, “What about your connection with your spiritual life?” Some people would even refer to that as a sixth sense.
You can integrate that too, if that’s your style, and that makes sense to you. Whatever religion you practice, see if you can somehow incorporate that into what you’re doing.
There are lots of very powerful ways to simply connect up things that interest you with what you’re doing, to really make them work for you. Be creative. Use your ADHD symptoms of hyper-creativity and innovation to your advantage on this.
While we’re on the subject, there is another solution people with Adult ADHD symptoms can use for getting those things done that you don’t like to do, and it’s called “outsourcing.”
There are very specific ways people with Adult ADHD can outsource things at home, and things at work, that are taking your time and energy that shouldn’t be. To find out more about outsourcing and other great techniques for Adult ADHD, see below.