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How To Cure ADHD with Behavioral Modification

How To Cure ADHD with Behavioral Modification

When I was young, people around me called those who interrupted in class and never did their homework, “lazy”. To lessen the sting from that horrible word, they used to add “…but with a lot of potential” to suggest that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for those students if they only buckled up and straightened their act.

In some severe cases, a kid would even be labeled as suffering from a terrible affliction called ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a disease that had treatment but no known cure. According to Wikipedia, there are a number of factors that may influence our tendency to demonstrate ADHD-related behaviors. Among them are genetics, diet, and our social and physical environments.

In Recent years, ADHD had grown into epidemiological levels as more and more cases of ADHD are uncovered each day. Nowadays, it seems as though everyone has contracted it—including a lot of adults—and as a result, the consumption of ADHD related medication is constantly on the rise in both adults and children.

According to a certain diagnosis, I have ADHD, which made reading this post a bit annoying since it was claimed in the post that ADHD is a fictitious disease, a claim that was later refuted as partly true. Why partly? Because although there’s a neurological condition called ADHD, there’s a lot of people who were diagnosed with it that don’t really fall under the category of suffering from it.

The reality is that most people are diagnosed as having ADHD because it’s convenient, because someone needs a scapegoat to blame for an inability to complete tasks and because society fails to identify it for what it really is.

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You Don’t Need to Cure ADHD; It’s an Evolutionary Advantage (and please pardon my hubris)

Cure ADHD? Really? There’s no cure for ADHD because it’s part of our primordial nature. We were not designed to sit in a class and do one task at a time; we were designed to be hunters with sharp instincts who can react instantaneously to threats in an environment that’s full of them.

ADHD, or the behaviors related to that disorder, are even labeled as advantages when it comes to certain professions; specifically those that require high alert and a multichannel approach to them—like combat pilots. Those professions resemble in nature the type of tasks we used to do back when we were hunters, i.e. controlling a lot of channels and making them work together.

Nature didn’t design us to sit in an office and do one task at a time.

If we were meant to be pencil pushers, things would look totally different both in the office and in our classrooms. We’d be able to process practically everything with ease, never moving from our chair, following the rules and never disrupting the natural order of things. This would result in us not making the huge progress we’ve made through the years due to certain people you might heard of, such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Nikolai Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton—they all had traits of ADHD.

They achieved all the things they did because they never mainstreamed; they just couldn’t.

Since we’ve all got ADHD to an extent and people with ADHD are responsible for the major changes around us, it looks like ADHD is just a misunderstood evolutionary advantage.

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Why misunderstood and why an advantage? Good questions. Let’s talk a moment about cats.

Yes, Cats.

Cats are excellent climbers, there’s no dispute about that, so why do they get stuck in trees so often?

Well, apparently, their claws were designed only for climbing up, not getting down. That’s why it’s really hard to teach a cat to climb down; they were never meant to do it. To learn how to climb down they would need years of evolution and an environment that will help then make that leap, so to speak.

In a similar way, we need to integrate our innate advantages into the way we learn, work, and focus, without taking Ritalin or any other drug, for that matter. We must face our environment today clear of any aids so we’ll be able to develop the skills required to face it.

A lot of ADHD behaviors have solutions in the behavioral modification department, or in other words, deal with the problems you’re having with skills instead of drugs. Let’s look at a few examples:

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1# General Inability to Focus on One Task, or Complete a Task Unless it’s Enjoyable.

To fix this you have to learn how to do one thing at a time because even with drugs, you can’t help yourself from gliding away from your intended task with the first distraction that comes your way.

People who were labeled as ADHDs have the tendency to do so more than others, which is why they tend to begin a lot of tasks and projects without finishing them: they just can’t master the required focus. That said, we all have a natural tendency to think that we can do several things at once, but by taking the one task at a time approach, we make sure that we learn how to start something and complete it without falling prey to the allure of multitasking.

2# Getting Interrupted Easily

We have a lot of channels open at all times, and the more channels we have open, the harder it gets to focus on just one. That’s why people who have 50 channels open (i.e. ADHDs), get distracted easily, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another.

It’s because of our evolutionary past as hunters, true, but we long since changed our environment, remember? That’s why it’s time to move on and evolve: learn how to control interruptions.

3# Struggling to Follow Instructions and Reading Without Remembering What You’ve Read

Sometimes it strikes us out of nowhere: we’ve read an entire page without remembering what we’ve read, or alternatively, we follow a simple manual only to get lost on our way.

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Who can relate?

It usually happens when we’re not interested in our reading material or performing an action that we don’t like. There are ways to learn how to remember what you’ve just read—learn them, it’s easy enough. If you have problems following instructions, try to draw a mind map. It works better with ADHDs because visualizing is easier for us due to the aforementioned evolutionary past and our sensitivity to visual stimulation.

4# Compulsion to Be Constantly in Motion

You walk when you talk on the phone, you can’t sit on your chair for long, and you browse between windows at dazzling speeds—sound familiar? Let me ask you this: how can you sit down when you’re full of sugar or caffeine? How can you focus when you fail to process basic information effectively?

Mastering the fundamental elements of focus, i.e. eating things that keep you balanced throughout the day and sleeping at night so your brain will process information properly, helps us to get better at controlling our basic impulses, thus helping us to manage excess energies and use them for constructive purposes instead of spreading them aimlessly.

There are more examples of ADHD behaviors that have solutions today in behavioral modification, so don’t go for the easy solution; i.e. medications, Ritalin’s power is limited and can only help you for a few hours, while you can learn how to cure ADHD by creating the right habits through behavioral modification.
So remember:

Meds are Temporary, Habits are Forever!

Until next time.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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