Dr. Carrie McMillin is a naturopathic physician that specializes in treating adults and children with ADHD and anxiety.
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I talk a lot about the practice of mindfulness with my patients because it is an ideal tool to have in your toolbox. Mindfulness can significantly improve concentration and focus, calm anxiety, and can even increase neuroplasticity (the ability for our brain to make new connections and learn new skills or behaviors).
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t cost anything either!
I don’t get too many raised eyebrows when I “prescribe” mindfulness activities. Most of us can understand the benefits and would love to incorporate it into their routines--but getting started can be tough!
I recommend setting aside a regular time (even just 5 minutes) to sit down and do one mindful exercise per day. Anchoring it to an already established habit (ex. after lunch, after brushing teeth) can be helpful. If you can incorporate it more frequently, even better!
I also recommend picking a very simple exercise that doesn’t require much time. One of my favorite books with simple ideas for kids is “Calm: Mindfulness for Kids” by Wynne Kinder. This book not only shows simple exercises that are great for starting up a mindfulness practice, it also has inviting photos and illustrations. And you can totally jump between pages (we are talking ADHD brains here).
One of my favorite exercises illustrated in the book is the high-five breath. This is a simple technique where you slowly trace the outside of your hand, breathing in as you move to the top of each finger, pausing at the top, and exhaling as you move down the other side. Give this a try, tracing your hand 5 times for a mindful high-five.
I recommend checking out this book for more easy ideas. You can find other great resources at www.mindful.org
Interested in the science behind mindfulness and ADHD? I recommend the book “The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD” by Lidia Zylowska
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Sleep is such a common issue for people with ADHD and anxiety. With current schedules thrown out the window, and little to no time for kids to burn off some energy playing with friends, I have seen a major uptick in sleep struggles for my patients and in our own family over the past few months.
Bedtime routine is so very important to help get the brain into “sleep mode” and should absolutely be your first step when working to overcome sleep difficulties. It can be helpful for the last step in this routine to be playing soothing sounds, music, audiobook or podcast. Try out a few different ones and see what works best for you. The goal is to find something that isn’t too interesting or exciting, so keep that in mind.
One podcast we have found helpful in our family is “Nothing Much Happens” by Kathryn Nicolai. Exactly what the title says, these are stories that aren’t really about much action, but rather descriptions of small moments and scenes. Kathryn reads them in a calming, sleepy, monotonous voice that is very relaxing. It is available on Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts https://www.nothingmuchhappens.com/stories
I hope this helps to make bedtime a bit easier in your household! More posts about sleep support to come!