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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 the 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.
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.
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.
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:
listen to Weightless – music that’s been shown to help initiate sleep
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 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.
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.
Problems from sleep deprivation are seen everywhere. I hear parents say they need more and that their kids need more. Even teens often admit that they don’t get enough. But why is it such a big deal? What problems are really caused by sleep deprivation? There are many! When we’re sleep deprived, it can lead to many problems that are often not attributed to poor sleep. This can include irritability, poor academic performance, accidents, obesity and more.
You’ll have to learn what your real sleep needs are. Too many people think they’re “used to” less than recommended amounts of sleep, so they’re okay. Once you know your needs, learn the problems with sleep deprivation so you can recognize symptoms in yourself.
Next week we’ll talk about how you can get better sleep.
How much sleep is needed?
Sleep experts recommend nine to ten hours for growing tweens and teens, with a minimum of eight and a half hours until the mid-twenties as our brains continue to mature.
Remember that when we’re sick or in a growth spurt, we need more than usual. Listen to your body!
Find your specific need.
You can estimate how much you need by experimenting over a school vacation time. Go to bed when you’re tired at night and wake on your own. Talk to your parents to let them know what you’re doing so they don’t try to wake you too soon.
Initially you will probably need a lot to catch up on sleep debt, but after a few nights of adequate sleep, see how much your body needs regularly. Don’t lay around all day watching tv or playing on your phone. Get moving! If you have too much down time, it can make your body feel tired, even when you’re not.
Count the hours you sleep naturally once your sleep debt is paid. When it’s time for school or other activities, adjust your bedtime to allow for that much sleep. If that’s impossible you’ll have to work with parents, coaches, and teachers to find solutions.
When you fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed and wake up without an alarm, you’re probably getting the right amount of sleep. If you fall asleep immediately upon hitting the pillow and always need an alarm to wake up, you’re probably sleep deprived.
Problems of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis (energy). Hormones that regulate appetite are affected by sleep duration. Sleep also influences the release of insulin, which is important in our sugar metabolism
These hormone changes are all implicated in the sleep problems we recognize, and we’re still learning more effects.
We all associate the teen years with angst, so we can easily attribute a teen’s moodiness to just being a teen. But being chronically tired can lead to emotional dysregulation. This will look like irritability, frustration and anger.
Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with developing depression. Depression affects our ability to sleep well and poor sleep can increase the risk of depression, so it can have a snowball effect.
Growth hormone is released as we sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect your overall height if you don’t get enough sleep during your rapid growth tween and teen years.
Growth hormone isn’t just needed for growing. It also stimulates muscle growth, muscle repair, bone building and fat burning. Sleep loss may affect healing time and weight due to less growth hormone.
Obesity has been associated with sleep deprivation. Specific appetite hormones are altered by sleep. Our appetite can be increased when we fail to get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can lead to eating more calories than needed because of increased appetite. This increases the risk of obesity and all the health consequences of being overweight.
Sugar metabolism is directly affected by sleep. People who don’t get enough sleep are at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes from this direct effect as well as from carrying excess weight.
Getting proper amounts of sleep can help with focus and learning. When we fail to get enough sleep, problems with attention, memory, decision making, reaction time, and creativity start to show. As if ADHD wasn’t enough to cause these things – sleep deprivation compounds the issue!
Grades can easily fall, which leads to anxiety and depression, which in turn leads to more moodiness and trouble sleeping.
Sleep deprivation mimics ADHD. If you think the medicine to help your ADHD that’s worked for years suddenly isn’t working, think about your sleep needs and amounts. Increasing the medicine isn’t the answer!
Teens with chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to be accidentally injured due to poor focus and slowed reaction time. Sleep deprivation also slows healing after injury.
Drowsy driving is comparable to drunk driving. Tired teens are at high risk for falling asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is the most likely to occur in the middle of the night (2-4 am), but also in mid-afternoon (3- 4pm) as teens drive home from school.
Athletes are more likely to be injured while playing their sport, so it is in the best interest of the team to get enough sleep. And yes, I know with the busy practice schedule and homework it’s hard. But athletes need sleep.
It’s not just injuries that increase among sleep deprived athletes. Performance also falls when we fail to get sleep.
Less sleep increases fatigue, lowers energy, and leads to poor focus. It may also slow recovery as mentioned above.
Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago Medical School, studied the effects of three different durations of sleep in eleven 18-27 year old men. For the first 3 nights of the study, the men slept 8 hours per night. Over the next 6 nights, they slept 4 hours per night. For the last 7 nights, they slept 12 hours per night.
After 4 hours of sleep per night, participants metabolized glucose least efficiently. Levels of cortisol were also higher during sleep deprivation periods. This can lead to memory impairment, insulin resistance, and impaired recovery.
After only 1 week of sleep restriction the previously young, healthy males had glucose levels that were no longer normal. They showed a reduced ability to manage glucose, similar to the way elderly people metabolize it.
Study of female university athletes
Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory has studied college level athletes for many years. Her research shows that getting more sleep leads to better sports performance for all types of athletes.
One study of the Stanford University women’s tennis team focused on increasing sleep to 10 hours per night. Those who increased their sleep time ran faster sprints and hit more accurate tennis shots than while getting their usual amount of sleep.
Too little sleep increases the risk of getting sick. Your immune system needs sleep to perform at its best.
Teens with chronic sleep deprivation have been shown to participate in more risk taking behaviors. These behaviors, such as driving without a seatbelt, drinking alcohol, skipping the bike helmet and tobacco use, add to the problems of sleep deprivation.
Now that you understand the many problems with sleep deprivation, come back next week to learn how to get more sleep.
Teens often do not get enough sleep. Most teens need 8.5-10 hours of sleep each night. Not 6 hours. Not even 8 hours. Most don’t get even close to meeting their needs and that’s a bigger deal than many realize. You don’t just “get used to” too little sleep. Sleep is very undervalued, but we need to prioritize it. Sleep deprived teens suffer from many physical and emotional problems. Add ADHD or anxiety into the mix, and it’s even worse!
This is part 1 of a 3 part sleep series. It will focus on what makes it hard to get enough sleep. Next up will be why it’s so important to get sleep, then the big topic of how to get more.
So… why don’t teens get enough sleep?
One of the most common reasons is that their biological clock (AKA circadian rhythm) makes it hard to fall asleep before 11 pm and school starts too early to allow them to sleep until 8 am, which would allow for a reasonable 9 hours. Nine hours are on the low end of sleep need for many adolescents. If teens are still growing, they will need even more!
Research shows that tween and teen sleep patterns are hormonally influenced. Your parents probably get frustrated with your late nights, thinking you’re in control of your bedtime, but you’re not. This isn’t an act of rebellion.
Research shows that the hormonal response to the 24-hour daily light/dark exposure that influences circadian rhythm is altered in the adolescent years. Adolescents physiologically stay awake later at night and therefore need to remain asleep later in the day.
It’s not your fault!
But sadly, it is your problem because you suffer the consequences.
Melatonin is a hormone that is released from our pineal gland. We need it to feel tired. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and it gets dark, the pineal gland starts to produce melatonin. It’s released into the blood and helps us feel tired and sleep. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated through the night until the light of a new day helps to lower the levels again.
The light from smart phones, tablets, and computers interferes with our natural melatonin rising. This keeps us from feeling tired and falling to sleep.
It’s best to limit screen use for at least an hour before bedtime. I know that for many teens this is difficult because they have to finish their homework at that time. Today’s teens need their computer or tablet to do homework.
If you have any time during the day to work on homework, do it. This is even more important for kids who take stimulant medicines for their ADHD. This medicine is out of your system close to bedtime, so it will be harder to sustain attention, making homework more frustrating and less efficient. Homework will take longer to do after medicine wears off, which decreases the time for sleep and fun activities.
If you can’t turn off the screen, at least use a program that limits the blue light that prevents the rise of melatonin. I personally use f.lux. It’s free and works on PC, Mac, ipad, android, and Linux. I find that it really helps. Try it!
Playing that one last game or checking Instagram one last time gives our brain a dopamine hit. Dopamine is a neurochemical known as the “reward molecule” that’s released after certain behaviors, such as eating, exercising or reaching a goal. While physical activity is most commonly linked to dopamine’s release, social media and online gaming are now shown to give a dopamine rush. This is why these behaviors are so addictive. It’s hard to stop the habit. One of the easiest ways is to just not use it except specific times of the day.
Take charge of your phone use ~
If you don’t want your parents restricting phone use, set your own reasonable limits.
Maybe check for messages before you leave for school after you’ve gotten ready. This can let you know of any needs or changes for the day.
Check messages again after school for the same reasons. Allow a 30 minute period to play a game or look at social media after homework is done. Then put it away and do something else.
It’s important to do things other than online games and social media. Find things to do that you enjoy. This article’s about sleep, but there are many negatives to spending too much time on screens. If you can’t limit yourself, talk to your parents or your doctor.
Indirect effects of phone use ~
It’s not just the direct issue of using our phone when it’s bedtime that interferes with sleep. There are indirect things as well.
It takes longer to finish homework when there are distractions from the phone. Putting your phone in another room when doing homework will help you finish more quickly, allowing you to get to other things more quickly.
Think of the extra time you can have to hang out with friends, getting exercise and getting to bed on time if you limit your screen time!
School districts that have started later start times have shown improved test scores, fewer absences and tardies, less depression, improved athletic performance, and better graduation rates.
Unfortunately, those schools are still in the minority.
Activities are too late.
It’s not uncommon to have regularly scheduled activities too late in the evening. Many activities in my area are scheduled to run until 9:30 or 10 on school nights for middle and high school aged kids.
When kids finally get home, they’re hungry, need a shower, and are ramped up so not ready for sleep. It can be well past 11 pm when they finally hit the pillow, so they need be able to sleep until at least 8 am to sleep 9 hours, but school’s already started by that time. It’s impossible for them to get sufficient sleep. After school naps might help, but not if there’s not enough time to fit it in between homework and the activity.
There’s no easy solution for this other than reviewing what’s really important and cutting back on whatever can be cut back. This might mean one less activity. Or maybe not taking every AP class or working fewer hours. All of these are important, but sleep is more important to your health and well being.
It will also take the adults in the community to recognize the benefits of sleep. Studies support later school start times, but there are many reasons schools haven’t adopted these. If you’re a real go-getter, get active in later start times movements.
Activities start too early.
I know many kids who must be at school before school actually starts. Whether it’s band practice, church study groups, sports, or taking a missed test before school, they all interfere with sleeping in, which is what teens need.
Again, this will take the adults in the community to recognize the importance of adolescents getting enough sleep. And for most teens, this means sleeping in because that’s when they’re physiologically able to sleep.
Medical causes of sleep deprivation.
If you suspect any of the following conditions are affecting your sleep, you should work with your doctor. Even if you aren’t sure why you’re always tired, talk to your doctor.
Anxiety – recurrent thoughts keep popping up
Restless leg syndrome – if your legs just need to move when you lay down
Sleep apnea – pausing of breath, often associated with snoring
Medications that affect sleep cycles – stimulants are commonly used for ADHD and can affect sleep
Heartburn or acid reflux
Hormone imbalances, such as thyroid problems – you might sleep a lot but still feel tired and have other symptoms
Anemia, or low red blood cell counts
Depression – every teen should have a depression screen yearly, but if you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor now!
Nutrition – if you’re not eating enough, or eating foods that are not nutritious, you could feel more tired. If you eat foods that cause spikes in your blood sugar, as those sugars drop you feel fatigued.
Infections – we all need more sleep when sick!
Celiac disease – talk to your doctor if you have chronic abdominal issues, such as diarrhea, vomiting, pain, or weight loss
Chronic pain conditions – if it hurts, you can’t get comfortable enough to sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation – I know this is counter-intuitive, but being tired can make it harder to sleep.
ADHD – that race car brain just won’t wind down!
What difference does it make?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably not surprised that so many teens (and adults) don’t get enough sleep.
What difference does it make if we’re sleep deprived? It turns out, there are a lot of consequences. Some you may know, some you may be unaware are related to sleep deprivation. Tune in next week to learn why we care so much about sleep deprivation!
A growth mindset is correlated with success more than intelligence is predictive of success. So how do you get this growth mindset?
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.
What’s a growth mindset?
The concept of fixed and growth mindsets was introduced by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in 2007. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, discussed this new way of thinking about how we think.
Of course, Yoda knew this long ago…
Per Dr. Dweck, people with a fixed mindset believe that people’s intelligence and abilities are static and outside their control. In contrast, those with a growth mindset know that intelligence is dynamic. We know that the brain is able to change based on experiences and efforts.
Some kids worry that they don’t have enough.
Not enough intelligence.
Or enough skill.
This is the fixed mindset.
Young Luke Skywalker was suffering from a fixed mindset. Yoda, the wise master, told him there is no try. He was pushing Luke to have a growth mindset.
Some kids grow up thinking that they can do anything if they just work hard at it.
They don’t worry if they’re smart enough or skilled enough.
These kids know that if they work hard, they have a chance. This is a growth mindset.
Who succeeds in life?
You know what? Studies show that intelligence doesn’t matter as much as grit.
People with a growth mindset have grit and resilience. They are more successful in life.
Even people who are very gifted intellectually can fail to succeed if they stop trying. They often start off in school finding that it’s easy, so they don’t need to learn study skills early on. When academics become challenging, they don’t know how to learn. They can easily get frustrated and give up if they’ve relied on being smart and lived with a fixed mindset.
Many people with ADHD develop a fixed mindset because they so often struggle with everything. They focus on getting a good outcome, but they fail to see the benefit to the process of trying. The good news is that they can learn to succeed if they change their mindset!
How can you get a growth mindset?
Okay, so it’s obvious that a growth mindset is better than a fixed mindset, but how do you get one?
Look at your way of thinking
When you face a challenge in daily life and you want to quit (or just not start), ask yourself what’s going on.
Really stop and think.
Is there a voice telling you that you can’t do it?
Does it say you’re not good enough?
Is the little voice telling you that it’s someone else’s fault?
This little voice is your fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset is when we believe our intelligence, attributes and abilities are fixed and unable to change.
If you listen to this little voice, you will stop before even trying.
This voice holds you back. It keeps you from achieving your goals and dreams. You’ll never know your full potential if you listen to it and quit.
When we have a fixed mindset, we constantly feel the need to prove ourselves. It leaves us vulnerable and highly sensitive to being wrong or making a mistake. When we have this mindset, any failure or mistake destroys our self confidence. This leads to being anxious and keeps us from learning from constructive criticisms and mistakes.
Choose to ignore that little voice
Once you recognize that the little nagging voice is your fixed mindset, you can learn to ignore it.
A growth mindset allows us to understand that our talents and abilities can be improved and developed.
If your fixed mindset voice is telling you that you can’t do it, think of how you can.
Is a big task overwhelming? Break it into several smaller task and get started on the first one. Small tasks seem manageable. And after doing one, you can move on to the next. Before you know it, the whole thing is done!
Instead of saying…
“I’m not very good at this.” or “This is too hard.”
“This is really hard for me. I need to keep practicing.”
Celebrate the hard work
Remember all the times you weren’t sure if you could do something, but you did it?
Even if it wasn’t perfect, you did it!
If you don’t even try, you can’t succeed.
How can you start whatever needs to be done? What tools do you need? Are there resources you can use? Is the size of the task intimidating? Can you break it down into smaller parts?
Instead of thinking you’re not good enough, think about what you can do to be good enough.
Know that you are able to solve problems. You can grow from doing anything you set your mind to doing!
Keep track of progress
Keep a notebook or electronic file of all the things your fixed mindset said were not possible to do but you were able to get them done.
Include your successes as well as the times you tried but didn’t quite meet your goal. They can be celebrated for the process of doing, even if the outcome wasn’t what you wanted.
You can learn a lot even when you don’t quite meet your goal. Think about what happened when you didn’t quite get what you wanted – usually it’s not that bad.
Be sure to not get lost in the goal itself, but the process of how you got there. There’s a lot of good learning that comes from the process.
Maybe you didn’t get an A on that really hard project, but you learned something about the topic. Maybe you didn’t see it at the time, but you learned organizational skills or research tips from the process.
Sometimes the best teacher is a mistake – as long as you evaluate what happened and use it as a learning experience. You can take all the things you learned with you when you work on your next project.
It’s the effort you put in to a project that helps you learn. The outcome if things work well or not really is less important. Focus on how you problem solve and your determination to continue, even when things are hard. That’s what helps you to strengthen your growth mindset.
Exercise your brain
Your brain is like a muscle: the more you use it, the better it gets. Each time you’re faced with the negative little voice of a fixed mindset, you need to challenge it with positive thinking.
The more you practice this, the easier it gets. It might never be your first line of thinking, but you can always choose to think with a growth mindset.
Resilience is the ability to handle hardships in life. People who are resilient are more capable of handling adversity than people who are not resilient. Life can throw us challenges at any given time, but have you wondered why some people seem to handle them easily while others seem to fall apart?
Resilient people are able to use their skills and strengths to handle whatever challenges come their way.
Bad grades. Death of a pet. Relationship break up. Late assignments.
All of these can make some teens get too frustrated to continue and just give up. Others might make excuses and blame others for the problems.
But not those with resilience. They are able to tackle these problems and find a way to turn things around.
That doesn’t mean they don’t get affected by the problems. They still feel angry, sad, anxious, or frustrated just like everyone else. But they can pick up the pieces and move forward.
They often use these as growing experiences and come out stronger than they were before.
What happens without resilience?
If people are not resilient, they might become overwhelmed and use poor coping mechanisms to face problems. These can be simply ineffective or they can be outright dangerous.
Examples of unhealthy or self destructive behaviors
Self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs to “feel better” is one such dangerous coping mechanism.
Cutting and other self harm methods are also serious risks when a person is not able to find appropriate coping skills.
Some teens just stop studying and give up on trying to get good grades.
Others might try to “get even” after a break up by spreading rumors.
Many are unable to accept responsibility for actions, so might blame the teacher for not teaching well enough instead of finding ways to learn the material.
You get the picture and can imagine how destructive some of these choices can be, right?
Don’t they worry?
People who are resilient are normal people.
They still have typical worries and stress. Problems still get them down and make them sad or angry. They get frustrated just like everyone else.
It’s how they handle the stress and challenges that sets them apart.
People with resilience look at the situation and problem solve. Instead of avoiding the problem (which may make it grow) they look for solutions. They don’t look for excuses, they look for ways to self improve or fix whatever is wrong. They pick up the pieces and move on.
Being resilient doesn’t mean they don’t get upset, it simply means they keep going.
How can we become resilient?
Some people seem to just naturally have the traits that make them resilient, but we can all learn resiliency. The first ADHDKCTeen event will be all about building resilience.
If you heard the recent news that stimulants decrease brain function, don’t freak out and immediately think you need to stop a medicine that helps you. The study was done in neurotypical (“normal”) people. There’s a big difference in what these drugs do in a brain that has imbalances of neurotransmitters and in a brain that does not, so don’t freak out. Read on to learn more!
If this is all too much information, you can jump to the TL:DR section, but it’s always good to learn the details!
What are stimulants used for?
Prescription stimulants are approved to use in the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity. They increase alertness and attention and often decrease appetite. Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are considered safe for long term use in appropriate circumstances.
Misuse can lead to psychosis, anger, paranoia, heart, nerve, and stomach problems. Stimulants can cause heart attacks or seizures when used inappropriately. Misuse also can lead to addiction and tolerance, requiring higher and higher doses to get the same effect, increasing the risk of overdose.
Studies have shown that 20-30% of college students have taken a stimulant medication inappropriately within the past year.
Adderall is the most commonly abused stimulant, but ritalin is used inappropriately too.
Why was this study done?
Many students believe that if Adderall and other stimulants help people with ADHD stay focused and perform better academically, it will improve their focus and make them smarter. Juggling school with all the extracurriculars, work and social life is hard. Many teens are sleep deprived and hope the Adderall will help them stay alert and study more effectively.
Since the use of stimulants by students without ADHD is common, many wonder if it’s true that they actually work to help focus in people without ADHD.
The big question:
Is Adderall safe and effective for those without ADHD?
What could be wrong with using it?
You might wonder why researchers care. Since many kids, teens, and adults are prescribed this medicine to help manage their ADHD, it should be okay for others to take, right?
There are many reasons to question the safety and efficacy of any medicine or supplement.
First and foremost, it is illegal to use someone else’s prescription medicine.
All prescription medicines are to be used by the person who it’s prescribed for. Stimulants are controlled substances. This means they are monitored closely by regulating authorities.
Controlled substances fall into various categories, ranging from Schedule I through V. Schedule I medications are the most dangerous. They have no known medical use, are unsafe, and have a high potential for abuse. The least dangerous category, Schedule V, has a small amount of narcotic quantity. Schedule II-IV fall in between.
Stimulant medications are in the Schedule II class. This class is considered to have a high potential for abuse and can lead to dependence. Please note that studies show that when children with ADHD take stimulants properly, they have a lesser risk of developing drug and alcohol problems. Even though there is abuse potential, the risk of all medicines should be weighed with the benefits.
When used properly, stimulants have medical benefits. If the medicine is prescribed to you, it is perfectly legal to have them in your possession and use them according to your prescription. But if they are someone else’s prescription, they are illegal to have and use. It is also illegal for you to sell or give your medication to another person.
Because these medications have resale value, it is recommended to keep your stimulants in a lock box when you live with other teens and young adults in college and early adult life. You can take a few out at a time to use as needed.
Right medicine at the right dose.
Most students who take stimulant medications have titrated their dose with the help of their physician to find the right medicine at the right dose. This can be a time of trial and error and needs to be monitored by a professional.
When friends share medications or people buy or steal stimulants from someone, they get what they get. They may or may not get a dose that is safe for them.
There are also fake drugs that are sold as stimulants but can be much more dangerous. It can be hard to tell the difference, so getting your medicine only from a licensed pharmacy is important.
If someone else is taking it, the person with the need doesn’t get it.
Many people downgrade their problems associated with ADHD. They might think they can get by with skipped doses, but they often underestimate the many benefits of their medication. Stimulants are not just needed for school.
People with untreated ADHD tend to live up to 25 years less time than people without ADHD or with treated ADHD.
That means ADHD leads to early death more than tobacco, obesity, heart problems, and other chronic diseases when it’s not treated appropriately.
It makes sense that the issues associated with ADHD can lead to early death.
People with ADHD tend to be less focused. They are involved in more accidents when not medicated.
Many with ADHD impulsively overeat, which leads to obesity and the associated problems. In fact, obesity is five times more common in adults with ADHD versus the general population.
Many will self medicate with drugs and alcohol due to the secondary low self esteem, anxiety, and depression that is associated with ADHD.
The suicide rate is much higher for people with ADHD. They tend to have more depression and impulsivity than people without ADHD.
Risk taking behaviors are much more common in people with ADHD due to their impulsivity. They have a higher risk of starting negative habits, such as smoking, which are associated with shortening lifespan.
In short: don’t give or sell your medicines to anyone else. You need them!
It was a relatively small study. This means it shouldn’t be generalized yet. Bigger studies should be done.
She recruited 13 students to participate. They took a 30 mg dose of Adderall before one lab session and a placebo pill before another lab session. They were blind as to which pill they took each session. During the lab sessions passages were read to them and they had to answer a series of questions about them.
Researchers looked at how well they performed, their alertness, and their ability to focus on the Adderall and the placebo.
Students showed improvements in alertness and focus with Adderall. Unfortunately these improvements did not help them think, remember or problem solve. They did not improve their reading comprehension, fluency, or recall of facts when they took the Adderall versus when they took the placebo.
Even worse: The Adderall actually inhibited their working memory. This is the ability to remember and use information to solve problems. People with ADHD often have problems with working memory and Adderall and similar medicines help to improve it. It appears that if your brain has normal function in this area, the Adderall makes it worse.
This makes sense. If your neurotransmitters are off, giving a medicine to stabilize them helps. If your neurotransmitters are at normal levels, giving a medicine that changes the levels hinders.
They also had elevations in their heart rate and blood pressure. If a student has an underlying heart condition, it could cause serious heart problems. This is one reason doctors ask about family and personal history before starting a patient on stimulant medications. If there is an increased risk, an ECG is recommended.
Without a physician monitoring the medication use, the risk goes up!
Stimulants have been proven to improve focus, attention, and working memory in people with ADHD.
When a physician prescribes stimulants, doses should be carefully titrated and routine follow up is required.
It is illegal to take stimulant medicines without a prescription.
Giving or selling prescription medicines to others is illegal.
If people take stimulants that are not prescribed to them or get them from a non-licensed pharmacy, they are at risk of getting fake drugs. Counterfeit drugs can lead to serious consequences.
When people without ADHD take stimulants, they may feel more focused, but their working memory is worse. This hinders their ability to perform well. They also suffer from physical risks without medical supervision.
When people with ADHD go without their medicines, their risks go up. Untreated ADHD is associated with early death. The risks are real if ADHD isn’t managed well!
Today we have so much information available to us through the internet, but you have to be very careful when you read it. Always remember to think critically when you read. Look at the source as well as the content. Don’t jump to conclusions – especially after just reading titles! A great read on this is An invisible unicorn has been grazing in my office for a month… Prove me wrong, so if you have the time, check it out!
Moving out and starting your college career is exciting, scary, fantastic and intimidating all rolled into one. This is true for all teens, but especially those with learning differences or mental health issues. Many who have never had those issues can suddenly develop them during college. Leaving the comforts and safety net of home to be on your own and starting college can be very challenging. But not insurmountable.
It’s not college that’s the problem. The risk is the age of developing independence. Believe it or not, these statistics are higher for young adults not enrolled in college.
Talk about these statistics with your parents, therapist, and/or physician. Plan what you’ll do if you or someone you know starts to struggle. Thankfully, colleges offer a lot of support for their students.
It’s a great idea to keep the suicide hotline in your phone to use in case of emergency. Whether you or a friend needs it, you don’t want to be out of a service area and unable to search for it. Put it in your contacts now.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Know your personal and family history – and share it.
Ask your parents about any family history of mental health, psychological problems, and learning differences. Many mental health issues tend to emerge in young adults, so if there is a family history, you will want to be aware of it.
Beware: your parents might not really know the history. Historically we have hidden these. People felt mental health problems weren’t real. Learning differences were simply not recognized. Or they were a sign of weakness. A source of embarrassment.
We now know that these are real issues. Sometimes life events lead to mental health problems. Often there is a genetic component to mental health and learning challenges. Sometimes there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to mental health issues, they just happen.
What we do know is that they’re real.
And they’re treatable.
They are not the fault of the person. Mental health issues are health issues and can and should be handled medically.
Learning differences do not make people stupid. They do make it harder to learn in a traditional classroom, but people with them can benefit from accommodations.
What if no one talks about it?
Sometimes we don’t know that a person struggled with a mental health issue, but we know they drank a lot of alcohol or became addicted to drugs.
Many very smart people do poorly in school. If people in your family seem to not achieve what they should based on their intelligence because they failed at school, think about learning challenges they might have faced.
Personal history matters too.
If you have a personal history of ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, or anything else, make sure you inform the university’s health center.
Your parents might be hesitant to provide this information because they worry that it will look “bad” — but colleges use this to help, not hinder you. It’s important that they are aware so they can help make sure you’re safe while you’re away from home and your parents can’t see you regularly.
If you have a history of anxiety or depression, touch base with the student mental health center to learn how to schedule with them when needed.
It is just too overwhelming to figure it out when you’re struggling, so do it when you get to campus – or sooner!
If you are on medications for anxiety, depression, ADHD, or any other chronic issue, talk to your current prescriber to see how you can continue the medicine at school.
If you go to a school close to home, it might be possible to continue to schedule regular appointments with the same prescriber. Be sure to schedule in advance so you can coordinate appointments with your schedule.
If you go further away, you will have to really think about what will work best. If you are able to plan times to come home regularly, be sure to schedule appointments well in advance so you don’t miss the opportunity to go to your doctor.
If you aren’t coming home often or if your condition isn’t well managed and you need more frequent visits with your physician or therapist, finding a local provider is probably the best choice. This can often be done at the student health center, but may require a provider off campus.
You can also see if your therapist or physician can do telehealth visits. This can be difficult across state lines, but technology can help maintain the relationship you’ve built over the years!
Learning differences, such as dyslexia, difficulty with working memory, challenges with processing speed, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, can all benefit from official academic accommodations in college.
To be in compliance with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), colleges must provide students with reasonable accommodations. These accommodations are not meant to make college easier, they are meant to level the playing field so that a student’s disability doesn’t impact their ability to learn and be successful.
Common college accommodations are:
extended time on exams
being provided with written notes in class
separate testing locations
How many kids have learning differences?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 11% of undergraduate students self-reported having a learning disability. Enrollment statistics show that 20.4 million students attended an American college or university in the fall of 2017. This means more than 200,000 students entering college have some type of learning disability.
200 THOUSAND students have some type of learning difference.
You’re not alone!
Studies show that only 17% of college students with learning differences take advantage of learning assistance resources at their school. This of course leads to academic struggles and a much higher dropout rate than for students without learning differences.
What can you do if you have a learning difference?
When researching prospective schools, students with learning differences should pay attention to how they offer support.
What do they offer in assistive technology? Do they allow the use of a scribe or note taker? What seating options are available? Do they allow students to go to a separate classroom for taking examinations with less distraction? Could you be eligible to receive extra time for exams? Some schools even offer oral exams if the student responds better to this type of testing.
You won’t know what’s available if you don’t ask!
And you won’t get the help you need if you don’t apply for it.
These accommodations can be accessed through most college’s disability service offices for students with documented disabilities. Check out your prospective school’s website to see what they offer.
There’s often a temptation to view starting college as a fresh start, which it is. But that doesn’t erase the past.
Some students want to quit their current treatment plans before starting college. This can really backfire.
Any big change, such as starting a new school (or job), moving, or living with new people, is stressful. With the start of college you have many of these big changes happening all at once.
It’s a really bad time to stop medicines or therapy.
Please continue with your current treatments until you’ve settled into things at school.
Once you’ve gotten used to the new routine, if you still think you’re ready to stop your treatment plan, talk to your providers. You can work with your physician or therapist to come up with a plan to stop treatments if you all agree that it is safe to do so.
If your doctor or therapist doesn’t think it’s a good idea: listen to them. They have seen this before. Use their experience to help you. Please.
Know your resources
Colleges offer a lot to help support you, but they need to know your challenges and you need to know how to access services.
Most colleges offer mental health counseling at their health center. Don’t be afraid to use it. Learn what’s available and how to access it before you need it. Before you even move onto campus.
It’s too hard when you’re struggling to do the research.
As mentioned above, learning difference accommodations can be accessed through most college’s disability service offices for students with documented disabilities.