I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say your ADHD brain is very important. Your brain controls your entire life, your thinking, your emotions, and behavior. It’s the most important organ in your body…and the one science knows the least about.
So, how much do you think about it…your ADHD brain?
And if you do think about your ADHD brain, don’t you want to know how to take care of your one and only amazing ADHD brain? Or at least what not to do?
If so, following is my list of the biggest mistakes people make in having an ADHD brain. Just so you know what not to do.
1. Not protecting it
If you want to enjoy your own or a loved one’s ADHD brain for as long as possible you must protect it. Brains are fragile and unfortunately a little damage goes a long way. Even though it’s not always possible to prevent accidents, there are some things you can do right now that will protect your brain just in case.
- Always wear your seat belt and make sure other’s are wearing theirs.
- Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t drive drowsy. Sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. For instance, being awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive like you have a blood alcohol level of .05 (for reference, .08 is considered drunk).
- Don’t text or use a cell phone while driving. Cell phones are the number one source of driver distraction. Drivers who talk on cell phones or text while driving are four times as likely to get into a car crash.
- Always wear a helmet when:
- riding a bike, motorcycle or skateboard
- skiing, snowboarding or using inline skates
- playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing
- playing baseball or softball
2. Poisoning it
Despite what the media says, alcohol is NOT a health food! Most of us know that alcohol, nicotine, excessive caffeine, environmental pollutants, and manufacturing chemicals, are not good for our ADHD brains. They reduce brain blood flow which interferes with our ability to think. However, there are other toxins to your ADHD brain you might not have ever considered trying to eliminate. Here are some additional “poisons” to consider:
- Noise pollution
Noise pollution, including high-pitched whining noises, can come from so many sources. Examples include the hum from things like fluorescent lights, air conditioning, heating units, appliances, or even a clock. And although we cannot always detect these waves of sound with our ears our bodies are capable of sensing them. This is why you feel so at peace when you completely unplug and are in nature and the wilderness.
- Artificial sweeteners
I’ll admit, for years I poured those pink, blue and yellow packets into my coffee. But now I know that fake sweeteners are really bad for our ADHD brains. So instead, natural honey has become my go to when I want a dash of sweetness.
- Refined sugar
Our bodies have evolved to handle other than in very minute doses in fruit or honey forms. Although we now know that sugar does not cause ADHD, it is clear it is not good for optimal performance of the ADHD brain. Consuming refined or processed sugars have been linked to bad memory, poor cognitive performance, decreases in brain growth hormone, inflammation and depression.
3. Low fat diets
The brain is at least 60% fat and it’s one hundred billion nerve cells are lined with essential fatty acids that support and enhance your brain power. Even though the brain takes up only about 2-5% of human body weight it uses up to 30% of our caloric intake. It just happens that fats, an essential macronutrient, have just the kind of feul the brain needs to stay healthy. Just remember that all fats are not equal. Good fats, saturated fats and fatty acids, are idea and need to come from our diet.
4. No clear goals to help the brain achieve
Setting goals and working to achieve them provides us motivation and a sense of accomplishment. What do goals and achieving them do for our ADHD brains. It is rewarded with an increase of dopamine. When we want something and achieve it—a promotion, an ice cream cone, a hug from a loved one, a completed to do list—our brain releases dopamine. Setting small goals and then accomplishing them is a way you can use your dopamine and feel more motivated. For instance, your brain may receive a surge of dopamine if you promise yourself that you’ll clean out the garage, and then you do. This is why so many people with ADHD like to-do lists: The satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked to the release of dopamine. What goals do you want to accomplish?
5. Too little human interaction
Humans are hard wired for social interaction. Meaningful relationships nourish and engage our brain. Activities that interfere with communication, relationships, and social interactions, like screens or technology, make us…well…less human. Instead, our ADHD brain thrives on interacting with other people and engaged in activities such as exploring, playing, creativity and being in nature.
6. No new learning
Your brain is like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets! Your ADHD brain thrives on new challenges, adventures, experiences, and learning. Learning stimulates neuron growth in the brain. The more you practice a new skill the thicker the myelin in your brains becomes, which means you learn faster and better. What is something new you can learn?
7. Not moving your body
Your mind and body are connected. Moving or exercising helps your ADHD brain. It boosts balance, motivation, energy, motor function, and thinking. It increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which then increases our physical health, mental and emotional well-being.
Research has shown that even a single 20-minute bout of moderate-intensity exercise improved ADHD symptoms. Research has also shown that people who exercise have greater brain volume in areas associated with reasoning and executive function. Just imagine what doing it more than only 20 minutes could achieve! How can you easily add 20 minutes of movement to your day?
8. Not getting enough sleep
If it weren’t important, we wouldn’t keep doing it. During sleep our body and brain are restored. Our muscles are repaired, immune cells are free to race around our bodies protecting us, hormones are balanced and the brain sorts the emotions memories of our day. There is still a lot that we don’t know about the potential benefits of sleep, but one thing is for sure: we can’t survive without it. And the closer we get to the optimal amount of sleep, eight hours for adults and more for kids and teens, the healthier our ADHD brains are. What can you do tonight to your needed 8 hours of sleep?
9. Believing every negative thought you have
Ghoul thinking…those sneaky, persistent, and pervasive automatic negative thoughts that pop up in your brain and ruin the rest of your day. Left unmanaged, they take over your thinking and add further injury by causing stress hormones to circulate through your body. When that happens it lowers your brain and thinking capacity, makes you gain weight and puts you at greater risk for cognitive challenges as you age.
You were born with an amazing, one of a kind ADHD brain. Taking care of it is your job. One that will reward you every day and long into your future.
Have something you would like to add to this list of what not to do in order to take care of your ADHD brain? I’d love to hear it…comment below.