6 tips to de-stress

We all have stressful things happen, but what can we do about it? Learning to de-stress is possible with these simple tips.

We all have stressful things happen, but what can we do about it? Learning to de-stress is possible. 

1. Exercise

You’ve heard that exercise is good for your health, but you may not realize how great it is for your mind too. Or maybe you do realize it, but you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t think you have time for it.

Bill Phillips

Make the time. This one’s important enough that it should remain a priority when you’re busy.

Plus exercise has been shown to help clear your mind so you can focus and be more efficient at everything else you do. It helps you sleep better at night, which in turn helps you focus better and feel less stressed. 

2. Cut back to limit stress

If you’re overwhelmed, prioritize what is important.

If you have a ton of difficult classes, maybe consider limiting that next semester. Instead of taking all AP or IB classes, pick the one or two that you feel are best for you and then the regular level of class for the other subjects. Take a fun elective that won’t involve as much homework. That can help broaden your skills and still looks good on a college application if you grow from the experience. Remember that colleges want well rounded students, not those who only eat, sleep, and study.

If you have an after school job, volunteer regularly, and are in a sport, maybe that’s just too much to do after your school day. Think about what is important and limit the extras. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, but maybe ask to limit hours after school. If you volunteer, limit when you go. Depending on what type of volunteering you’re doing, see if you can arrange things to work with your course load. If you are doing a bunch of little volunteer experiences that aren’t really interesting to you, maybe find something you’re passionate about and spend time with that one thing.

Remember that if you take on too much, you can’t do everything well, so you will not be your best. Mental health is more important than doing it all. Cut back and focus on what’s really important to you getting where you want to be!

As you’re cutting back, be aware of what’s important.

You can’t simply stop doing coursework if you’re a student.

It’s not wise to cut back on the essentials of sleeping and exercise. These should always be entered into your planner so they get done.

You still need time to relax and be around your friends and family. Put that time in your schedule and make it happen. 

I strongly feel that giving to others helps us on many levels, so doing volunteer service is great – but it should mean something to you. Don’t just do something because you feel like you need to do it. Find things you enjoy and help others using that passion.

It’s all about balance.

It's all about balance. You can do anything, but not everything.

3. Eat healthy to decrease stress

We’ve all heard that we should eat healthy. It’s not new news at all that we should try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and complex carbohydrates. 

Yet many of us fail to eat well for a variety of reasons. I know all the excuses, but we all need to problem solve to find solutions, not just grab another unhealthy snack and keep repeating the same mistake.

If you make a few adjustments each day, you’ll start noticing a difference in how you feel.  Start by choosing water over soda or juice. Try eating a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack. Pass on the crackers, cookies, and other junk foods. Try a new healthy food if you’re picky. 

If you aren’t hungry mid-day due to medicine, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. This does not mean cereal. Healthy breakfasts that will last through the day include protein and fiber. 

If money is an issue, talk to people who can help. Start with your school counselor.

Many of us fail to eat well for a variety of reasons. A healthy diet is key to being healthy.

4. Sleep

I can’t stress enough how important sleep is. 

We seem to underestimate the value and see it as time wasted. 

Time management problems all day do not give you the excuse to stay up finishing homework.

You should never stay up to do something you wouldn’t get up early to do. For instance, you would probably not set your alarm to wake up and watch a YouTube video, right? That means you shouldn’t stay up “just a few minutes” later to watch it. Go to sleep. It will be there later.

Sleep is a necessity. Make time for it.

Use all the night features your computer and phone offer.

Make sure your phone will never wake you if a friend tries to call or text in the middle of the night. Just because they’re suffering from insomnia doesn’t mean you need to be awake. Set the night mode. Tell your friends you won’t respond at night so they don’t keep trying. Blame it on your parents or your doctor. They won’t care. (And if your parents are following the standard recommendations, they will take your phone away an hour or two before bedtime…)

The blue light from your screen keeps the melatonin in your brain from rising. You need melatonin to feel tired. That means if you’re using any screen with normal lighting, you won’t feel tired and you’re likely to lay awake even if you go to bed. 

5. Screen time limits

This seems to repeat what I just said, but there’s more. So much more that it’s covered in Screen Time Limits

I covered this in detail, but want to remind you to check out some screen management apps that might help you take control of your phone and computer time.

  • Moment (currently iOs only, but Android version coming)
  • Forest is an interesting app that not only helps you stay on task, but you can earn points that helps to plant a real tree – helping our world
  • Flipped
  • Mute 

I’ll bet you underestimate how much time you spend online. Try the apps mentioned above. Use the knowlege gained about your use to adjust it to an amount that allows you to be productive and have time for the necessities of life.

It’s too risky to have full access to phones and all of their distractions 24/7. You’re fighting against an industry that invests in finding ways to get you hooked and wanting to spend more time on their content. We get dopamine hits each time we play online. Dopamine makes us feel good, so we want more.

It's too risky to have full access to phones and all of their distractions 24/7. You're fighting against an industry that invests in finding ways to get you hooked and wanting to spend more time on their content.

6. Take 5

Take 5-10 minutes each day just for you. It’s not much time, and if you make the time, you’ll find that it pays back!

Set a dedicated time to reflect: What did you accomplish – celebrate the big and the little goals met. Are there things that can be high priority tomorrow. What are you thankful for?

You can go one step further and also make time throughout every day to be mindful. I’m still in the learning stages of this, and experts always talk about practicing mindfulness. We can all practice it daily. Find something that you do every day and link it to stopping to be purposefully mindful. Start a morning routine.

For more mindfulness tips and several free apps to help guide your mindfulness, see my Pinterest Mindfulness board. If you use mindfulness regularly, you will notice less stress. 

Change your perspective: Be Positive!

How often do you get stuck in negative thoughts? It can happen to any of us, but when it does, we stop being productive. Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective.

Step back

If you are frustrated at how things are going, take a step back. Maybe several steps back. 

Try to look at the issue from another perspective, maybe several other perspectives. 

Changing your perspective can help problem solve. Step back and look at it from other angles. This is a great way to build resilience and be successful. #growthmindset #perspective

Things we can’t change

We can’t change what others say or do. The weather is beyond our control. What’s in the past is already done. 

We can change none of those things. But that doesn’t mean we need to stay stuck in the rut of accepting those things as they are.

Focus on things you can control to help solve problems. Find more positive tips in the post. #perspective #positivethinking

Things we can control

There are a lot of things we can learn to control.

Sometimes it’s as simple as learning to take a few breaths to allow our brain to sort through things before we say something we regret. Collect thoughts and then plan what to say. 

Choose your reaction

If you don’t like what someone’s saying, you can choose to react one way or another. That choice will help determine what that person says in response.

If you show anger, belittle them, or respond in any negative way, the situation will probably spiral downward.

When you take a few big breaths and carefully choose words that help show your perspective without putting theirs down, it can help.

Humor often helps, as long as you don’t belittle others in the joke.

Try it on

An even better response is one that you acknowledge their perspective, step back and try it on.

If their idea or angle might work, even though you initially didn’t like it, then stay open to it.

What can you both agree upon to make their idea work for you? Or to make your idea work for them?

Of course if you are not okay with something because it’s not safe or doesn’t align with your morals, you shouldn’t cower back and accept it.

Have an open dialog and come to an agreement.

Look for what you can control

We certainly can’t make a rainy day sunny, but we can dress for the weather appropriately and make alternative plans if the weather prevents our original plan from happening. 

Stop reliving the past

Changing your perspective can help problem solve. Step back and look at it from other angles. This is a great way to build resilience and be successful. #growthmindset

Too often we dwell in past mistakes.

We can’t change what’s already done, but we can learn from those mistakes.

Don’t miss the opportunity to use experiences to help you grow.

Regrets only cause insecurities and sadness.

Stop regretting things that have happened in your life.

It won’t change the fact that they happened.

What can you do to grow from the experience? How can you make that situation better in the future?

Blame is never productive.

Whether you blame yourself or someone else for something that happened, it doesn’t change what happened.

What can you do to make something good out of the situation? Is there something you can do to prevent something similar from happening again? What needs to be done to set things right?

Changing your perspective can help problem solve. Step back and look at it from other angles. This is a great way to build resilience and be successful. #learnfrommistakes #growthmindset

No regrets

Regretting and pointing fingers both keep us from learning about our mistakes.

Take ownership and accept consequences when appropriate. Then use this as a part of the learning experience, grow, and move on.

Another perspective on mistakes

If you never open yourself up for failure and play it too safe, you’ll never grow. Taking chances is the only way to stretch ourselves to aim higher than we ever felt possible. 

Taking chances is a way to stretch ourselves and grow. #growthmindset #healthyrisks

Take risks 

This does not mean I want you to take unsafe chances. It’s not okay to put your life or someone else’s life in danger.

Racing a motorcycle without a helmet in the rain is just stupid. Vaping is dangerous to your health. Getting drunk can have serious consequences. These are not the type of risks taking I’m talking about.

Take a risk by trying a new sport or audition for a play.

Step outside your comfort zone.

Start a conversation with someone new.

Challenge yourself to learn something you’ve never tried before, like a new language or about a different culture.

These are great opportunities to mess up or feel insecure initially. But they offer a chance to grow and learn.

Take some risk in life by stepping outside your comfort zone to grow! #growthmindset

Get help analyzing

Sometimes we’re so set in our way of thinking that it’s hard to change our perspective.

Ask friends and family for help.

Listen to other’s opinions with an open mind. How does their view of the issue differ from your own? Does this change your opinion at all?

Rewind

Take the time to rewind and rethink a situation that didn’t end well. 

What happened?

At what points (if any) could you have said or done something differently?

How could that have changed the outcome?

Although you can’t change the past, you certainly can use this experience to change how you approach similar situations in the future.

Move forward

After taking the time to reflect and learn, you must move on.

You cannot dwell on any one situation indefinitely.

Learn from your mistake and use that knowlege for life.

Your best teacher is your last mistake. #learnfrommistakes #growthmindset #adhd

My medicine stops working too soon! What can I do?

Teens have long days. The most common medicines they use to manage ADHD symptoms last 8-12 hours. It isn’t surprising that stimulants don’t last long enough, but that doesn’t make it okay. What can you do to get everything done if you medicine doesn’t last long enough?

Sleep.

It goes without saying that we all need sleep to focus. People with ADHD often struggle with sleep, but they need sleep.

If you struggle to sleep, check out How can you get better sleep?

Don't underestimate the power of sleep
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep!

Organize it!

Organization helps us all. If you can stick to a schedule an prioritize things appropriately, you can get a lot more done than you realize.

Taking a little time to make a schedule can save you time in the end so you’re not lost trying to figure out what to do next, especially if you start and stop projects often.

For more on scheduling, see 10 Secrets of Productivity.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Start with a schedule!

Knock out the hard stuff.

Get the hardest task done first.

Try to get your hardest subject’s homework done in your spare time during school hours or right after school.

We often put off the hard stuff due to procrastination, but that comes back to haunt us later! Get it out of the way and check it off the list!

Reminders.

Set reminders to get back on track. If you get distracted easily, figure out what helps remind you to refocus.

Use post it notes where they will remind you when you need the reminder. 

For example, if you frequently stare out of a window, put a sign there to remind yourself to get back to work.

Turn off notifications.

No one needs an alert to know that they have a new social media message or email.

Yes, notifications and alerts can help you remember to do what you need to do, but only if timed properly. If you set an alert at the time you need to take medicine, that’s great! But random notifications that pop up when you’re in the zone doing something is distracting.

Schedule time to check  whatever will need to be checked, but don’t check them while doing other tasks.

Those notifications are simply too distracting. Turn them off!

Accountability partners.

Would you benefit from studying in a public place, where having people around will keep you from daydreaming?

No one wants to be seen drifting off… 

Or maybe you can simply invite an accountability partner to work with you. Ask a friend to study with you. Be each other’s accountability partner. Keep each other on track. Don’t talk and distract one another.

If your friend isn’t good at this, then have a heart to heart or find another study partner.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips. Would a study buddy help?

Move!

Exercise has been proven time and again to help us focus. Plus it’s just good for our bodies.

If you need a brain break, even a few minutes of walking around can help reset your brain.

Food!

We all have a hard time focusing when our bodies are hungry.

Grab a healthy snack to get recharged.

Healthy is not a sugar snack. Sugar might pop us up temporarily, but then we’ll crash later.

Think of snacks as mini meals. Eat something with protein and either a fruit or vegetable.

Good snacks are apples with peanut butter, carrots or cucumber with hummus, grapes and cheese, strawberries and yogurt.

Change your medicine 

If your medicine doesn’t last long enough and all of the above still doesn’t help you focus for the duration of your day, talk to your doctor.

Sometimes increasing the dose of your long acting stimulant can increase the time that it remains above your treatment threshold. This may or may not be tolerated, since a higher dose may increase the side effects. 

Some people will add a short acting stimulant in the afternoon. For instance, if you take a long acting methylphenidate in the morning, you could add a short acting methylphenidate in the afternoon. If you take a long acting amphetamine in the morning, you could add a short acting amphetamine in the afternoon. 

Other people benefit from adding a different type of medication, such as guanfacine or clonidine to their daily routine. These medicines can last longer and have a different side effect profile from the stimulants, so if the addition of a short acting stimulant isn’t tolerated or desired, it can be another option. 

Another long acting medication is atomoxetine. It also works differently than the stimulants do, so is an option for some people.

For more on ADHD Medications, see ADHD Medications: Types and Side Effects. 

Screen Time Limits

We all waste time on our screens. Companies pay to find ways to encourage people to use their sites. They use psychology to make you want to spend more time online. People with ADHD are at risk due to their executive management issues with time management, impulsivity, and more. Screen addiction isn’t an accepted diagnosis yet in the US, but excessive screen use certainly is a problem for many people. Learning to set personal screen time limits is one way we can make a positive impact on our own lives.

How much time do you spend?

See where you spend your time.

Do you check messages and notifications before you even get out of bed? Does that help or hinder you getting started in your day?

My guess is you could use that time for a much better purpose.

Mindfulness is a great way to start your day. Just getting out of bed and getting ready for your day will keep your parent off your back – which in itself is a better start to the day!

If you spend 3 hours a day doing mindless stuff online checking social sites, playing games, and watching videos, that’s 3 hours a day you could be productive. Limit it to a reasonable amount of time and then stop.

Take back your time!

Tracking and limiting time on your phone

Find an app that can help you track your time online. Many will work across several social site platforms as well as general browsers.

Some will allow you to set a daily reminder for a custom interval that pops up an alert when you’ve spent your chosen limit in the app for that day. It won’t lock you out, but sometimes we all need a gentle reminder to get back to real life.

Go to your app store and search “time on phone tracker” or “phone addiction” or check out these popular apps:

  • Moment (currently iOs only, but Android version coming)
  • Forest is an interesting app that not only helps you stay on task, but you can earn points that helps to plant a real tree – helping our world
  • Flipped
  • Mute 

I already have parents, why do I need this?

I know some of you will think this is too much like when parents set limits, but for many with ADHD, it is too risky to have full access to phones and all of their distractions.

Websites, gaming sites, advertisers, and more pay people to look into the psychology of what makes people want to play and participate.

We get a dopamine hit each time we play. We need to fight the urges that they’re trying to create.

In short, we need to stay in control of ourselves. You don’t want anyone or anything controlling your brain, right?

Bonus: If you show your parents that you are responsible in this (and all things) they tend to give you more freedom. It’s all part of growing up and showing maturity!

We are all at risk of wasting time online.  Learning to set personal screen time limits is one way we can make a positive impact on our own lives.

Schedule time 

Schedule time to check your messages.

It’s important to know what’s going on, but you don’t need to check every few minutes. People can wait.

Trust me, it was much better years ago when people didn’t have instant access to everyone and everything. People had less stress. Return to that mindset. There’s a time and a place for everything. Focus on what you’re doing at the moment, whether that’s talking with a real live person, paying attention to your teacher, working or studying. Especially if you’re driving. Messages can wait!

Ask your friends and parents to join you in this. You can set times to check in, then do other things at other times. If they know you limit your time checking messages, they won’t get as anxious when you don’t reply in 2.4 seconds… It’s that need for instant gratification and response that is a huge driver of anxiety in some people. Let it go…

Trust me.

Turn off notifications

If you get into the zone writing a paper and a notification box pops up, you’ve lost the zone.

You waste time responding to the message and your focus is gone.

You’ll have to get back into the paper writing mindset, which wastes your time and energy.

Use the online time management apps listed above to help with this. 

For more information:

How Teens and Parents Navigate Screen Time and Device Distractions

Screen Addiction Among Teens: Is There Such A Thing? 

SPIN Cycle

Dr. Ed Hallowell is a well known expert on ADHD. He often talks of the SPIN Cycle and how people must learn to harness energy from their ADHD to learn to thrive. It’s natural in all aspects of life though to have periods where we excel followed by times that seem stagnant or even time where things worsen. 

Positive aspects of ADHD

When ADHD is well managed, we can learn to improve upon our skills. We can work on our organizational skills. Our time management can improve. Sitting down and staying on task is possible. We feel more successes than failures.

I’ve written before about all the reasons we should appreciate ADHD, including creativity and extra energy. The problem is getting to the point where we can recognize the benefits of the ADHD mind – the negatives easily get in the way. 

Waterfalls and ADHD

Dr. Hallowell compares ADHD to a waterfall in his blog on the SPIN Cycle. 

Dr. Hallowell compares ADHD to waterfalls - both are powerful but must be managed.

He goes on to say,  “This waterfall is an insurmountable obstacle if your goal is to paddle.  But, if you will change your plan, I can show you how you can turn this waterfall into something wonderful.  This waterfall can generate enough energy to light up millions of homes.  People will pay you for all that electricity.  You just need to throw away your paddle and build a hydroelectric plant.”

What’s the SPIN Cycle?

During the spin cycle we get stuck in a period where we seem to stop progressing in our self improvement. Sometimes we even seem to slip back into old habits. The negativity weighs us down and can make us want to stop trying.

Dr. Halloway coined the SPIN Cycle. It's natural to have periods of excel followed by times that seem stagnant or even time where things worsen. Learn more.

Shame

It’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to feel ashamed due to their inabilities to sit still, stay quiet, turn in assignments on time, and the myriad consequences of the executive functioning struggles they have. This can lead to Rejection Sensitivity, anxiety, and depression.

Until we learn to love ourselves and look at ourselves in a positive light, it is impossible to function well. Negative self talk keeps us from being productive. It inhibits our sleep. We start to give up. 

We all tend to be our harshest critic. Learn to look at yourself as you would look at a close friend. You’re probably able to accept that a friend forgot to reply to a text or showed up late. Don’t beat yourself up over the same issues. While it’s not good to do those things, you can use failures to learn instead of to fall into the trap of negative self talk.

Focus on the positives in your life, not the negatives. Look at everything you have accomplished. Write accomplishments down as they happen so you can easily review the list to give yourself a boost when you’re feeling down! Don’t wait to solve the world hunger problem to consider something an accomplishment. It can be the little mundane things that we need to do every day but struggle to do.

Is it hard to remember to feed your pet without your mother reminding you? Today you remembered. Write that down!

A great way to block the shame is to focus on gratitude.

Each day take a moment to think about why you’re thankful. This can be things you’ve accomplished as well as people and things in your life you appreciate. It’s also a great time to set goals for the next day. Don’t forget to include doing things for others. There’s no better way to feel better about yourself than to help others!

Pessimism and Negativity

It’s easy to fall into pessimism and negativity, as discussed above. Sometimes we feel like nothing will work out, so why bother even trying. 

We can’t control what other people say or do. The weather is beyond our control. A classmate might say something really hurtful. Natural disasters happen. All of these things can bring us down. Or we can change the way we think about them.

We can learn from things that go on around us. If we don’t like the way we feel when people say certain things, we can learn to not say those types of things and hurt others. We can practice responses to say or how to leave the situation when people say things that cause us to hurt or feel angry.

Maya Angelou

You might know someone who simply gives up. They stop trying to do homework because they get so frustrated that they make silly mistakes or they don’t understand the assignment. Maybe they can do the work but they always forget to turn it in. Why even bother doing it in the first place if you don’t get full credit, right? 

That’s negative thinking. The glass is half empty. With this type of thinking, it’s less likely that you’ll get anything done. 

Focus on the positives and stop the negativity. Learn to control what you think. To learn more about this, read How to Get a Growth Mindset

Focus on things you can control to help solve problems. Find more positive tips in the post.

Isolation

Dr. Hallowell writes,  ” Isolation is often the by-product of shame, pessimism, and negativity.  It intensifies the shame and negativity, and can lead to depression, toxic anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and generally poor performance in all aspects of life.”

It can feel easier to simply avoid being around people if you worry about what people will think of you. While it might seem to decrease your stress if you avoid a stressful situation, it can lead to new worries that you have no friends. It also leads to a weak support system, so when you need a friend to lean upon, they aren’t around. 

It might take working with a friend to draw you out and into situations. Some people need to work with a therapist to learn how to socially interact.

Jessica from How to ADHD has some great social skills tips in this video:

No Creative, Productive Outlet

When we’re stuck in a negative mindset, we lose our creativity. Productivity goes out the window. That leads us to more frustration and dispair. 

We need to get out of the rut and do something productive to regain some self esteem and feel good. 

Try to make tasks fun. Think of Mary Poppins… she helped Jane and Michael clean the nursery by making it into a game. Granted, she used a little magic, but you can sing a tune or find another way to make chores fun.

I sometimes listen to an audiobook while I clean. It makes the task more fun while I listen to a book I enjoy. You could get more creative and pretend you’re in a movie and act out what the character would be doing. If nothing else, focus on a positive aspect of whatever chore you must do as you do it.

How to stop the SPIN Cycle

When you get stuck in the SPIN Cycle, you can find a way out by simply playing. Have fun. Clear your mind of the negative thoughts. Be around positive people. Do something nice for someone else. Think positive thoughts. 

Learn a few tips from Mary Poppins…

Catastrophizing: When the sky is falling…

It’s not uncommon for us to automatically think the worst when something unexpected or negative happens. If you think life is one catastrophe after another — the end of the world — you can learn to change your perspective and move on. When you think every little setback is a huge hurdle, it’s called catastrophizing. It’s possible to stop catasstrophizing by taking a step back and finding solutions. It isn’t easy, but you can learn to change your perspective.

Making mountains out of molehills

This is a common phrase, which just highlights how often people feel like whatever problem they’re having is the biggest problem of all. The good news is we can learn to handle this strong anxiety.

For example, if you don’t feel ready for a test, it’s easy to think you’ll bomb it. If you do bad on the test, surely your grade will drop. Bad grades won’t get you into the college you want, and then you won’t get the job you want. 

That line of thinking is what many people experience. Everything is a catastrophe.

What can you do to avoid catastrophizing?

Give it time.

First and foremost, give yourself some time. Whether you can only afford a few big breaths or you can sleep on it, a little time can help. 

If you impulsively react to anything negative, you’re more likely to overreact, cause more problems, or just not be able to find a solution.

Give yourself time to calm down because trying to think straight when you’re upset is not helpful.

In the example above, if you keep thinking along those lines, you won’t be able to focus on your test, which will negatively impact the outcome. Clear the negative thoughts to be able to focus.

Learn mindfulness.

I know it’s not easy. Trust me. My mind wanders horribly when I try to be mindful. But I’m still practicing.

Studies show mindfulness helps with anxiety, focus, and physical health. It’s worth learning. 

When you’re good at being in the moment, you can use mindfulness to help calm yourself before reacting. 

Learn how to get stuff done through mindfulness
November 6, 2018 come to our meeting about using mindfulness to get stuff done. See our Events page for details.

Look for facts.

I always say that feelings are louder than facts. When we’re sad, angry, scared, or feeling any strong emotion, it’s hard to think about the facts.

You need to find the facts.

Write down what’s going on. Sometimes it takes seeing things written out to see the facts. 

In the example above, do you really think you’ll fail to get a job because of one test you weren’t well prepared to take? 

No.

While it’s always a good idea to study, get a good night’s sleep, and be prepared for tests, the truth is many successful people have occasionally been unprepared.

They do their best and try harder next time. They use that as a learning opportunity and study differently the next time. Maybe they ask the teacher more questions or find a tutor. Or they simply make the time to study. They might try a new technique, such as taking notes while reading or standing to read.

Whatever it takes, they learn from their mistake. This is resilience.

Change your mindset.

There’s a whole post on changing mindset. Please read it. 

A growth mindset is correlated with success more than intelligence. So how do you get it? Did you know your brain can learn to change the way it works? It doesn't just learn the new information you study at school. Our brains are able to change and adapt. You can learn to use your brain to your benefit through developing a growth mindset.

Be realistic.

Let’s face it: we all have good days and bad days. Things happen. 

We don’t need to blame anyone or anything. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault. It just is.

A common example of a no fault solution is in sports. Someone has to win a game, which means someone loses. Losing isn’t the end of the world. Again, use it as a learning experience. Maybe there’s nothing you could have done to change the outcome, but you can change your mindset about the outcome. If you did your best and the other team was better, then that’s the way it is.

Think of other positives. Was it good just to spend time with friends? You got exercise and a break from studying. What good came from it?

Identify when you’re catastrophizing.

If you find yourself frequently frustrated at what is going on around you, look for triggers.

What sets you off?

If you can find certain things that always get your fire buring, watch out for those situations and tread extra cautiously.

Maybe things that work you up are frequently related to school. Smart students tend to worry excessively if they do poorly academically, even if it’s not worth many points.

Don’t fall for the slippery slope of one small setback leading to failure. Identify it as your hot topic area and work on changing your approach.

What is protective?

Do you realize that if you are tired or hungry you’re less able to handle stress? Does that mean that the oppoiste is true? Be sure to get enough sleep if you think it does. (Hint: This is true for most of us. Check out The Big 3.)

If you find that talking to someone helps, find people who can calm you down before you act inappropriately.

Exercise often helps people clear their mind. If you have the time to take a walk or hit the gym, do it. If you don’t have a lot of time, get your wiggles out in another way, such as a brisk walk around the room.

Change the pattern.

Learn to change the pattern of catastrophic thinking.

In catastrophic thinking, a negative experience is followed by unpleasant feelings. These unpleasant feelings make it seem like nothing good can follow in the situation.

If you learn to spot the pattern you can interrupt the thought process and choose to se the situation differently.

Play the rewind game.

A fun game to play that can help you learn how to change your mindset and behavior to get a better outcome is Rewind. In the game you roll play with a friend or just in your mind.

This game works a lot like those books that you can choose the ending. If you want to go in the house, you choose page 4, if you want to walk down the street, you go to page 12. The choice you make alters the outcome.

In this same manner, you can choose different things that could have been said or done, and role play what the response from the other people involved would have been.

Rewind a situation and play it out differently.

When you find yourself complaining about the outcome of an event, think it through again, starting with what you could do to try to get to a better ending.

The trick is you have to be the first to change what you say or do. In the real world we can’t just expect someone else to change a behavior. We can only change what we do. Others usually follow suit, depending upon what the situation is.

For example:

You forgot to turn in a homework assignment. This leads you to worry that your grade in the class will fall. A lower grade makes you worry that you’ll be kicked off the school team due to GPA requirements. Of course then you’ll lose your scholarship and won’t get to go to college. If you don’t go to college then you’ll end up in a minimum wage job or homeless.

The first step is to recognize this as catastrophizing. You won’t end up homeless due to one missed assignment.

Next you will need to not make missing homework assignments a habit, so use the rewind game to figure out what you can do to change the outcome in the first place.

What could you do differently?

Do you need to write your assignments in a planner and check them off when you do them? How do you remember to bring the homework and everything you need to complete it home? Did you choose the right location to do the homework without distractions? How do you remember to put the homework back in your backpack when copleted? What distracts you in class from turning it in? Can you come up with a routine that would help?

Sometimes the rewind game will allow you to play out a scenario in which your words or actions can change, which changes someone else’s response. This is good when you have a disagreement with a friend. You can’t expect them to change their response unless you first change yours. What can you do or say differently next time?

Playing rewind trains your brain to think about what you do and how others react. Each situation is different, but the game can help you play it out to get a better outcome and then use the techniques in real life.

10 Secrets of Productivity

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips.

1. Choose the best time

There’s a time and a place for everything. We all know that. But choosing when you will do certain things is as important as choosing what you will do.

This is especially important for those with ADHD who have a limited time on medication.

If you plan to do your homework in the evening when your meds are out of your system, guess what? It will take longer. There will be more frustration. You’re more likely to make silly mistakes. Your handwriting may be less readable. You’re more likely to be tired and unable to recall things as easily.

It just isn’t the right time.

If you have a little extra time during class or between classes to get a few things done, use that time. Don’t waste it.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as choosing the right time.

2. Choose a good location

Many people presume the best place to study is a quiet, secluded place, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re more likely to daydream when you’re secluded, choose an area with others around.

If you’re the type of person that gets distracted by every little sound or movement, you might do better secluded. Or if there are others around, use earplugs to help drown out the sound.

Don’t use your bed for studying. You’re more likely to fall asleep before finishing. And more likely to end up with neck and back problems. 

If you like a tidy area and you have a cluttered desk, the clutter might be distracting. Take a few minutes to clear your space before you get to work.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as choosing the right location.

3. Grab a study buddy

If you have a study buddy or are in a public location, these can help you stay on task. Keep each other accountable.

Of course the buddy can get you off track if they start joking around, so make a pact to keep each other on task. If you see your buddy checking their phone, tell them to put it down. If they see you staring off into space, they can bring you back to the books.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips. Would a study buddy help?

3. Sound control

Noises can be distracting.

Whether it’s a bird chirping outside that makes you look or if it’s a conversation at the next table in the library, there are distractions.

Use instrumental music to drown out these distractions. I don’t advise your favorite songs that will make you want to sing along… nothing that distracts you from whatever you’re doing.

Use earplugs if sounds in general drive you to distraction.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as sound control.

4. Find an aspect to like

We all have to do things we don’t like to do, but there can be at least one thing about it that you enjoy.

It might be hard to find, but look for it.

If you have to write a report on a book you hate, think of one aspect of the process that you like. Even if it’s the finished paper, there’s something good to focus on.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as finding something to look forward to.


5. Break up big tasks

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with big projects, so break them up into tasks that are more manageable.

The secret to this is that you need to schedule time to do each task. Don’t just do one task and forget the rest of the project – people with ADHD are famous for starting many things but finishing nothing!

This technique doesn’t work for everyone. If it’s hard for you to get motivated to start, it might be better to do everything in one big block. Once you get started, if you’re in the zone, stay in the zone. As long as you still have time to do the other things that need to get done that day. If you need to move on, move on. 

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as breaking things up.


6. Fuel your body

Don’t forget to eat! Those with ADHD often don’t feel hungry due to medications, but it’s still important to eat at least small portions of nutritious foods.

There is a growing body of research that suggests a link between ADHD and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Magnesium, B-Vitamins (this links to B12, but there are links to other B vitamin pages at the bottom), Iron, Zinc and Copper are all implicated in how our brains work. Not enough of them can lead to symptoms found in ADHD. Read about where you can get these vitamins and minerals naturally. Try to eat a variety of foods with these vitamins and minerals.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as fueling your body.

When your stimulant leaves your system and you start to feel hungry, don’t grab chips or cookies. Eat real food. More and more evidence is showing that what we eat affects not just our physical health, but also our mood, attention, and overall mental health.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! One important one is to make healthy choices.

7. If anxiety’s got you stuck…

For many of us, if we’re worried about an overwhelming project, it’s even harder to get started.

Just jump in.

You have to start somewhere. If you have to write a paper but are worrying about the final paper’s readability, content, and punctuation, you won’t be able to just start writing. Start by jotting down ideas. They don’t even have to be complete sentences. You can always go back and add to your comments to put them into coherent thoughts and make them grammatically correct.

For example, for this blog I first looked at my list of topics that I want to cover over time. After choosing productivity, I started by listing the headings/topics that I thought would help with productivity. I then added the explanations under each heading ~ many additions and changes were made along the way. I decided to make photos to go along with each section to make it easy for people who don’t like to read as a last minute thought. Along the way I changed things that needed to be improved. I finally proofread for what seems like the millionth time before posting. 

If you’re stuck getting started because you’re worried about the final product, take time to break big tasks into smaller ones. It’s daunting to do big projects, regardless of the project. Even things you want to do can be overwhelming. Find small things that you can do to work toward a final goal. Plus, it’s fun to check off things as they’re done!

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as jumping in.

8. Sleep

We all need sleep.

Many people erroneously think that if they extend their day to 18 hours, they will get more done. The problem is that your body and brain need more than 6 hours of sleep.

If you only sleep 6 hours, everything you do will take a bit longer. You’ll make more mistakes. Things will be forgotten. There are many risks to sleep deprivation.

Make it a priority.

If you need tips on how to get better sleep, see How to get better sleep

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as getting sleep.

9. Don’t aim for perfection

So often we get stuck because we want the finished product to be perfect. 

You know what? It can’t be perfect if it’s not done.

You just need to start. You can always fine-tune as you go, but the trick is to just start. 

Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips, such as not aiming for perfection.

10. Schedule everything

Taking a few minutes each day to plan ahead can save hours overall in mindless wandering. 

Each morning review everything on your calendar for the day. 

As you get new assignments or projects, add them into your planner. If it’s a big project that will need to be done over several days, schedule an appropriate amount of time between now and its due date. Waiting until the last minute increases anxiety, which can lead to problems focusing and getting started. 

Don’t forget to schedule the little things and the things you want to do. Add in your activities and exercise time so you know what time’s not available for other things. Set your bedtime as a priority so you get the sleep you need.

What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Start with a schedule!

Related blogs

Finish Tasks

“Yet” A little word with big potential

Why don’t teens get enough sleep?

Watch Out for Rejection Sensitivity

5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 5: Helping Others

How to Get at Growth Mindset

“Yet” A little word with big potential

Yet is such a little word, but it has huge potential. Learn how it can change your mindset and help you to be more reslilent.

We’ve all been frustrated when things get tough, but why do some people seem to trek on and succeed while others give up? They’re resilient. Many of them have learned the power of “yet.” Yet is a simple, but very powerful word. It gives people hope and a knowlege that they can. Even if they can’t do it now, they can one day. Understanding that you can will help you stay resilient. 

Resilience and grit to succeed

Resilience and grit are traits some seem to come by naturally. These traits help people succeed when things don’t go their way.

In fact, resilience and grit are linked to success more than intelligence.

Think about that for a minute. Sticking to things is more important than intelligence when it comes to success.

I’m sure you know some really smart people who haven’t made it very far in life because they just don’t keep trying.

And you probably know some average intelligence people who have really gone far in life. They succeed beyond expectation. These people have grit. They keep going when things get tough and don’t quit. 

The truth is, we can all learn to be more resilient. It can be hard, but possible. 

“I can’t…”

We hear people say, “I can’t do this,” all the time. Maybe it sounds more like, “I’m not good at driving,” or “I don’t understand this math.” Whatever the actual words, the outcome is the same.

These people are stuck in a fixed mindset. They won’t ever be able to do whatever it is if they have that mindset. 

Learn the power of “yet”

If you simply learn to say “yet” after you have the negative thinking above, it can help.

I can’t do this… yet.

I’m not good at driving… yet.

I don’t understand this math… yet.

Change "I can't" into "I can't yet" to see a big change in outcomes!
Change “I can’t” into “I can’t yet” to see a big change in outcomes!

A simple word changes it all, doesn’t it?

Learn to use “yet” in your daily life.

When you feel frustrated, try it.

If you feel overwhelmed, give it a shot.

When you’re challenged with new or difficult material, just say it.

Repeat it as necessary. Use it to give yourself momentum and an extra push.

See if it helps! What have you got to lose?

Related blogs

Resilience: What is it and how can I get it?

How To Get A Growth Mindset

5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 5: Helping Others

Watch Out for Rejection Sensitivity

5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 1: Stop the negativity

Watch Out for Rejection Sensitivity

People with ADHD tend to have something called rejection sensitivity or rejection sensitive dysphoria. Watch out for this!  

What is rejection sensitivity?

It’s the tendency to perceive a situation negatively, when in reality it is not meant to be negative at all. It can lead to significant anxiety or low self esteem. 

For example

An example of this may be that you attempt to text a friend multiple times. There may be many reasons they don’t reply, but you automatically assume they’re mad at you or don’t value your friendship. Even after hearing that their phone died or they didn’t have it with them, you still may feel that their delayed response was somehow due to them not wanting to answer your text.

Stress response

When you have ADHD, your nervous system overreacts to things from the outside world. Any sense of rejection can set off your stress response. This leads to an emotional reaction that is out of proportion to the situation. Sometimes whatever really occured was not a negative thing at all, but your reaction to it is negative. 

Symptoms of rejection sensitivity. Learn to recognize them so you can work on it.

Why does this happen?

It’s estimated that the typical 12 year old with ADHD has received 20,000 more negative messages than other kids their age.

They are constantly reminded that they’re not on task.

Chores are often forgotten.

Homework is lost.

They may interrupt others and speak without a filter.

Sitting quietly without constant movement is expected in certain situations, but very difficult for many kids with ADHD.

Each of these situations is due to all of the executive functioning shortcomings, not intentionally bad behavior. But the scoldings and reminders make kids feel like they were bad. All that criticism can take a real toll on their self-esteem.

Over time people who are chronically made to feel like they didn’t meet expectations grow more sensitive to all situations. They might attempt to be perfect in what they do to cover up real or perceived shortcomings. Since it’s impossible to always be perfect, they fail, which serves to further lower their self esteem.

What does low self esteem look like?

When people experience repeated failures to do things as expected, they may lose the drive to try. They often give up. This can look like laziness, which can lead to more shame. 

Only when people who are affected in this way are guaranteed success will they even try. There aren’t many situations in life that we’re guaranteed anything, so this can be a big problem.

Many people are afraid to ask for help when needed, so they simply don’t do perceived difficult tasks. Some children fail to do homework because they’re ashamed to ask for help when they don’t understand it. Parents may mistake this for willfully not doing homework or being lazy, which isn’t the case. Often kids wish to do the work, but they’re overwhelmed and too embarassed to get help.

Some people try to overcompensate and show more confidence than they have. They might state that they are really good at something when they don’t really believe it. The overconfidence can backfire when it hurts someone else’s feelings or when they fail to live up to the set expectation. People can simply view their statements as bragging. No one wants to be around someone who thinks they’re better than others. The irony is that in this situation, the person really doesn’t think that. They have a low self esteem and are overcompensating or simply trying to hide their fears about themselves. 

How does this affect relationships?

It’s not surprising that rejection sensitivity leads to a lot of problems within relationships. 

Blaming

Many people with very low self esteem attempt to blame others for all of their problems.

They are unable to accept responsibility for their shortcomings. This prevents them from learning from their mistakes.

It of course also affects how the other person feels – which isn’t good.

No one wants to stay around someone who makes them feel bad, so it can strain relationships.

Drive people away

With the texting example above, if you accuse your friend of not valuing your friendship, they will be annoyed. Maybe not at first. With the first occurance, they might simply blow it off and say you’re being silly. But if you consistently treat them like they need to be at your beck and call because you get angry or jealous when they’re not, they’re likely to get tired of it. They’d have every reason to ask for space and intentionally stop making plans to do things with you. 

Jealousy

Dating relationships can be even more affected, since it’s a one on one situation. Many people with rejection senstivity easily get jealous. If their boyfriend/girlfriend talks to someone, they might misinterpret the situation and jump to the conclusion that they’re cheating with – or at least have a crush on – the other person. Relationships should be based on trust, but when there’s jealousy, all trust is lost.

When a person gets jealous easily, they often become very controlling. This can lead to emotional abuse of the partner. It brings forth negative emotions in both people in the relationship. It isn’t healthy to stay in relationships like this. Even if you really care for one another, it is important that everyone in a relationship is safe and respected. 

Failed relationships

It is not uncommon for people with ADHD to have more failed relationships (including marriages) than people without ADHD. This is not exclusively due to rejection sensitivity, but rejection sensitivity certainly plays a part. Recognizing this trait and working to improve self esteem and decrease the rejection sensitivity can help with maintaining strong relationships. 

What can be done to treat rejection sensitivity?

Recognize it 

The first step in treating this is recognizing what is going on when your extreme negative emotions are driving your thoughts and actions. If people tell you you’re being too sensitive, reflect on it with an open mind. Don’t just get angry, blame others, or avoid the issue.

Treat your ADHD

Treating the underlying ADHD can help some of the issues with rejection sensitivity, but not all of the symptoms.

Impulsive behaviors can exacerbate the emotional response to a perceived negative situation. Controlling the impulsivity appropriately can help with the response directly, as well as to help preserve your self esteem by allowing you to think before acting and speaking.

Improving your focus can help you be successful in completing tasks without rushing through them. Again, this helps to preserve your self esteem because you achieve success. 

If you don’t think your ADHD symptoms are properly managed, talk to your parents and your doctor.

Talk to others

It’s important to not hide or cover up your negative thoughts and concerns. Doctors, therapists, and loved ones can help if they can be told what is going on in a way that helps them understand. Too many people are afraid to talk about why they stop trying, are negative or jealous, and about their overall low self esteem. Many might not even realize what is going on and why they feel like they do, but if the above list of symptoms reminds you of yourself, talk to someone you trust about it.

If the person you tell is not familiar with rejection sensitivity, they might not understand what you’re trying to tell them. Please don’t let that knock down your self esteem even more because they don’t understand. Show them this post and and other information about rejection sensitivity. Help them learn rather than accepting their ignorance and going further down in your own self esteem. Talk to your doctor, a school counselor, or a therapist. If they don’t know about the condition, show them the resources you have too.

Accept yourself for who you are

Learning to accept yourself for who you are – faults and all- can be difficult for anyone, but it’s possible.

Focusing on the positives can help.

Take the time each day to think about and write down what you’re grateful for from that day.

Also write down the things you did that day that made you proud or accomplished. Don’t focus on the tasks that you haven’t finished – think about all the parts you have done.

Celebrate all you do, even the little things! It can help build self esteem.

Humor can be a good healer

Learn to use humor when situations get tough. It’s okay to laugh at situations to help avoid negative thinking.

Don’t forget to learn from the situation, but keeping the mood light helps to not have negative self talk.

Medications

Rejection sensitivity is sometimes treated with medications such as guanfacine and clonidine (both are blood pressure medicines now approved to treat ADHD), and MAO inhibitors.

These treatments should be discussed with and managed by a physician knowlegable in this treatment.

How can you get better sleep?

We’ve all heard that sleep is important for our mental and physical health, yet it always seems we don’t get enough. Screens, homework, activities, and our natural circadian rhythm all seem to get in the way. What can you do to get better sleep?

Go to bed when tired at night.

Fighting sleep initially will make it harder to go to sleep when you finally go to bed.

If you miss the tired phase, you will hit a second wind and be up for much longer in a wired phase. You won’t necessarily feel tired past bedtime, but you body will suffer the effects of sleep deprivation if you miss out on needed sleep.

Attempt to follow a regular sleep schedule.

Going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day really helps you get better sleep overall.

While sleeping in on weekends can help repair a sleep deficit, it can make it harder to get to sleep Sunday night and getting sufficient sleep every night is better than just getting more sleep a few days/week.

Try to sleep in no more than 2 hours past your school day wake up time. Sleeping in too late makes it hard to get to bed on time that night.

Follow the same routine each night at bedtime.

Brush teeth, read a book, color, take a bath or shower — do whatever helps you wind down and relax.

Repeating this every night can help your brain get ready for bed. The routine itself helps. Your body anticipates sleep is coming.

Nap to help make up missed sleep.

A short 15-20 minute nap after school can help revitalize the brain to get homework done. Just don’t sleep too long or it can interfere with bedtime.

Turn off the screens an hour before bedtime.

All lighted screens keep your melatonin levels too low. A gland in our head makes melatonin in response to darkness. The melatonin helps us feel tired.

This means that television, computer games, computer/tablet use for homework, and smartphones for socializing all keep you awake. Turn them off at least an hour before bedtime. Don’t even check your social media accounts during that last hour of your day.

Try to get all your homework that requires a computer or tablet use completed earlier in the evening. Save the homework that only involves paper books and assignments for last if needed.

If you must be on a screen close to bedtime, use night mode screen lighting and apps that take the blue lights off of the screen. I personally use the f.lux app – it’s free and easy to set up. It works well!

What about melatonin supplements?

Melatonin is available as a supplement in many forms. It is commonly used in children to help with sleep. Since up to 70% of kids with ADHD have problems falling asleep, it is especially common to be used in this group.

It’s generally considered safe, but there are some cautions. It isn’t regulated by the FDA, so what the label says and what you get might be different. Studies in children are also lacking, so specific interactions, dosing, and best uses are not known.

In my experience, there are few side effects from melatonin. Some kids still don’t sleep well with it and others are still tired the following day. It can also interact with other medications, so if you take it, be sure to talk to your doctor about it.

To learn more about melatonin, check out this great post from Dr. Craig Canapari.

Avoid caffeine in the later afternoon.

The time it takes half of the caffeine to be removed from your body is 5-6 hours.

Ideally teens would sleep and never drink caffeine, but I know that isn’t reality. Any caffeine in the later afternoon can make it harder to fall to sleep.

Don’t forget “hidden” sources of caffeine, such as chocolate, energy bars, and workout supplements.

Coffee nap

One interesting concept that has scientific backing (but goes against the “no caffeine after 3 pm” rule) is the coffee nap.

Basically, you drink coffee (or another caffeinated drink – but be careful of those loaded with sugar).

You then quickly nap for 15-20 minutes. Sodas and teas don’t work as well as plain coffee due to too much sugar and too little caffeine.

The coffee nap has been shown to be more effective than either a nap or caffeine alone. The basic premise is that your brain gets a nap before the caffeine kicks in, then you wake as the caffeine is taking effect to help you wake up.

Cautions for the coffee nap

Use the coffee nap only at times you really need it.

Don’t do this too late in the day or the caffeine will inhibit your regular night’s sleep.

Caffeine + stimulant medicines don’t mix

Be very careful using caffeine if you take a stimulant medication, such as methylphenidate or amphetamine.

When you add caffeine to this, it can cause an elevation in your heart rate and increase anxiety.

If you take a stimulant medicine most days but don’t take it other days, it would be acceptable to use caffeine for short term benefits when off your medicine. Caffeine is not a good substitute for medications long term though. The medications have a more consistent dose effect.

Talk to your doctor if you do drink caffeine so they can help you adjust your medicine if needed.

Skip the snooze button.

Set your alarm for the last possible moment you can, which allows your body to get those extra minutes of sleep.

If you need to get out of bed by 6:45, but set your alarm for 6:15 and hit snooze several times, you aren’t sleeping those 30 minutes. Set your alarm for 6:45!

Skip the late night studying.

Studying too late is ineffective.

When the brain’s tired it won’t learn as well and you will make mistakes more readily. It takes a lot longer to get anything done when you’re tired.

Go to bed and get up a little earlier to get the work finished if needed.

Of course you should also look at your time management if this happens too often. Are you involved in too many activities? Do you work or volunteer too many hours? Did you waste too much time on tv, games, or socializing? Do you put off big projects until the last minute?

Homework needs to take priority when you’re more alert in the afternoon and evening. If you have problems with this, talk to parents and teachers about what you can do.

Charge your phone in another room. 

Friends who decide to text in the middle of the night keep you from sleeping. Even phones on silent have blinking lights that can spark your curiosity.

It’s too tempting to look at your social media apps one more time if you have your phone with you as you go to bed. Your brain gets a dopamine hit every time you play a game or interact on social media. This reinforces more and more phone use, which means one last check can turn into an hour or more of playing on the phone.

Don’t use the excuse that you need your phone as an alarm. Alarm clocks are cheap. Get one and put your phone elsewhere!

If you lay awake for hours or wake frequently, try these techniques to help fall asleep: 

If these fail, talk to your parents and doctor to help find a solution.

Use your bed for sleep only.

Don’t do homework in bed.

Stop watching YouTube and Netflix in bed.

Train your brain that your bed is where you sleep.

Exercise.

Exercise helps our bodies sleep better, but it should ideally be earlier in the day.

Exercising too close to bedtime can wire us up, so if you can exercise earlier, that’s a better choice. I know some sports and dance require late practice and class, but if you can schedule exercise earlier, do it.

Get natural sunlight in the morning. 

Natural sunlight helps to set your circadian rhythm. It’s a tried and true method to reset your internal clock when traveling out of your time zone and also helps when you need to adjust your sleep schedule at home.

Keep the bedroom cool and dark.

It’s harder to sleep if the room is too warm or too bright. A fan can be used to circulate air. (The fan also can double as background noise, which is often helpful.)

Use blackout shades if needed.

Keep pets out of the bedroom. 

Your animals might love you and you love them, but if they keep you up, it’s just not worth having them around at night. They’ll still love you in the morning if you keep them away from your room.

Nicotine and alcohol affect sleep.

Nicotine and alcohol should not be used by teens in an ideal world, but I know teens will not always follow the rules.

Everyone should know that if they are using nicotine or alcohol, their quality of sleep will be affected.

Nicotine is a stimulant (like caffeine), which leads to more time sleeping lightly and less time in deep sleep. And yes, vaping and chewing lead to this problem too since it’s the nicotine that causes the problem. Don’t start these habits!

Alcohol reduces the time it takes to fall asleep but it increases sleep disturbances in the second half of the night, often leading to early wakening. Alcohol relaxes muscles, which can lead to sleep apnea (often noted as snoring). Sleep apnea does not allow the body to have restful sleep. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which might increase the need to wake to go to the bathroom during the night.

Get help if needed

If you are addicted to any substance, talk to your doctor for help stopping.

Your doctor must maintain confidentiality under most circumstances, so you can trust that they will help you and not cause more problems. The exception to confidentiality is if they think you are in immediate harm from a substance.

We all need to to prioritize our sleep. Learn how you can get better sleep.