Posts Tagged ‘ADD’

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Want to Smoke a Bowl?

August 13, 2013

Since five states have now legalized marijuana for personal use and the federal government is now deciding to stop prosecuting people who bring it into the country, more and more Christians are going to think about trying it for themselves. The argument is often like this: “It has less side-effects than alcohol and we don’t have any problem with drinking.”

Well, I would dispute that we don’t have any problem with drinking. I have long held that Christians have over-reacted to the Temperance movement and now allow too much drinking to be part of our lives. But I want to spend a moment interacting with an article that came out this week about the harmful effects of Marijuana.

This study (view it here) concludes that pot severely hinders the brain’s ability to produce Dopamine. Because of this, pot can bring on a number of disabilities related to low dopamine output. These include Parkinsons disease, ADD, Restless leg syndrome, drug-induced schizophrenia etc. Not only that, but the lower levels of dopamine in our body, the less likely we are to be motivated to do anything. This is what causes the typical “stoner” personality – the totally under-motivated, carefree individual who stops many steps short of success in life.

The Journal of Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University, Imperial College and King’s College (both based in London) all concur with the findings that marijuana lowers dopamine. Please read this carefully and decide if the upcoming legality of pot makes it desirable in the long term.

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Filling in All the Gaps with Technology

June 7, 2012

For years I’ve had the displeasure of explaining to people exactly what it means to have Attention Deficit Disorder. While I don’t consider having ADD to be a problem anymore, there are many people who pay me sideways glances, as if trying to detect some hidden psychoses buried in all of my behavior. Such is life. I’ve learned to be quite content with the constant challenge of focusing on the task ahead and not allowing it to meander away to a colorful bauble.

Therefore, I take pointed interest when I read that most people in our culture over the last three or four years have developed a type of ADD. This problem does not originate in their biology but from their environment.

In a recent blog entry by Joe Kraus he points out that most people now have a unhealthy relationship with their cell phones. He observes, “I don’t think I have a healthy relationship with mine. I feel a constant need to pull it out – to check e-mail, to cruise the Internet, to see if there is something interesting happening right now. It’s constantly pulling on my attention. There are studies that have been shown recently where people have reported at a rate of 35% that they check their phone before they even get out of bed in the morning. Do you do this? I do. If I let it, it easily fills up those gaps in my day – some gaps of boredom, some of solitude.”

Another study has shown that the average teenage girl – mind you, we are talking about the average girl; some girls do more – uses her cell phone to text an average of 4000 times a month. That equals one text for every 8 min. of waking time. The number is only slightly less for boys; 3000 texts per month.

What this means is that cell phones,  televisions, video games, computers, MP3 players, tablets are filling up every gap in every moment and every day of our lives. We interpret this to mean we are able to do more with our brains.  But here’s the truth: we are constantly teaching our brains to be distracted by every piece of information and data that comes within observing distance.

Krause goes on to point out  this may have some kind of evolutionary roots to it. He notes that over the centuries it is the Hunter/Gatherer who was constantly wary of danger from every direction that lived when something dangerous decided to attack. Those who are not easily distracted by swiftly moving things in the peripheral vision don’t live very long when they’re out in the wild. He postulates that our surviving ancestors were able to keep living by becoming good at distraction. Whether or not you accept the validity of evolutionary roots to anything or not, it should be obvious that we are becoming more and more distracted in everyday life.

So who cares?

Most psychologists who study the concepts of creativity and insight observe that the majority of our most creative moments happen when we are not keeping our minds busy on many things. Those momentary “gaps” in our day are crucially necessary to tie together many of the loose ends that will eventually join to form a creative thought or mindset. Without those gaps, we never really see the bigger picture. As Krause says, “…gaps used to happen all the time. Now they’re disappearing. You’re eating lunch with a friend and they excuse themselves to the restroom. A gap. Now you check your phone because being unstimulated makes you feel anxious. Waiting time in a line at the bank? Used to be a gap. Now it’s an opportunity to send e-mail or text”.

So what can we do about this? I really think the number one answer is overcoming this dread of these gaps. Is it possible for you to embrace those moments of reflection, those unexpected times with nothing to do? If you can build in habit of allowing your day to have a lot more gaps than it presently has, it is more than likely you will be able to hear what has been rumbling around in the far corners and recesses of your mind. For those who are followers of God these gaps are the moments when Holy Spirit can come in and tie together all the loose ends of the things that his voice have been trying to indicate to you.

What then will you do? In the next two articles, we’ll explore how to make room for more gaps and how to utilize them to bring good mental health to your life.

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Organizational Tips from Someone with ADD

April 19, 2010

When I tell people that I both have ADD and teach courses on how to get and stay organized, they look at me like I am in need of therapy. But think about it: Who has to worry about organization more than someone who can be distracted by the wind or humming? Here are some effective tricks to stay organized. As you would expect from someone with ADD, they are in no particular order.

1. Standardize your Morning: Because just about anything can get me headed on a tangent, my mornings are critical. If I get off on the wrong foot, I can never find the track again until it is too late. Here is what I do. I have exactly the same routine every morning. The same way to shower, shave, take my pills, do my exercises and write in my journal. There are no variations until all the essential stuff is done. And because I have done this so many times, I don’t have to think about what comes next.

2. Learn the TRAF method of dealing with clutter: My mother taught me this and she learned it from someone else all the way back to Jesus. I think. Regardless, this works wonders with things like mail, email, files, etc. TRAF stands for: Toss, Refer, Act or File. Let’s apply it to mail.  When you get your mail, do not put it on a desk. Deal with it right away. Toss everything and anything that you don’t absolutely need. That will be most of it. Then give mail to whomever it belongs. Don’t hold onto it yourself. Act on whatever needs your attention. If you don’t have time to act, have an “action” file that you look at three times a week. Whatever has to be saved for your records gets immediately filed. See, no clutter.

3. Whatever you leave for later will not get done until it has to. For instance, if you are tired and take your shoes off to relax, never assume you will put the shoes away later. Later almost never happens. Take ten seconds to do now what needs to be done and you will never have to do it at a less convenient time.

4. Assume every to-do list has too many items on it. We all place too much on a to-do list. I split my to-do list into morning, afternoon and evening. I only put a couple of things on for each time period. This way, I can better gauge how many things I can actually get done.

5. Realize that if you have been putting something off it is because you don’t want to do it. There are several options with this. Get an attitude change if you are putting off something that is absolutely your responsibility. Find someone better qualified. Find some way of not doing this onerous task. Find a different way of approaching it.

6. Break all huge tasks into many smaller ones. This is an old piece of advice, but it works. Most people with ADD cannot see big  pictures. With our son, we would only give him one thing to do at a time. Then when he was done that, we would give him the next thing. Instead of “clean your bedroom”, we would say “make your bed”. Instead of “do your homework”, we would say, “make an outline of five points for your history paper”.

7. When you take a break from a project, set a short time limit…use an alarm if possible. I can take a five minute break and stretch it into an hour if I’m not careful. Most people aren’t that extreme, but we do waste a lot of time. That said, don’t neglect taking breaks to let your mind rest when you’re working hard.

8. Do one thing you love and one thing you have been dreading every day. Get into the habit of both stretching yourself and rewarding yourself for a day well lived.

9. Respect people by being early. How many times have I had people say to me “why are you never late?” You would think that someone with ADD would be perpetually late. I learned years ago that being early for an appointment implies you count their time as valuable.  I arrive early by always assuming something will go wrong on my way there and giving myself extra time to get there.

10. Clean your work space every evening. Positive things are mentally  triggered when your work area is clean before ending the day.

11. Have a journal where you note the following at the end of every day: what you accomplished, what you want to change, what matters to you, what God has said to you that day.

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