What have others enjoyed reading on ADHDKCTeen that you may have missed?
I know it seems like I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but posting the top 10 blog posts at the end of the year serves several purposes. First, it might help someone find a post about a subject that’s important to them but they hadn’t seen yet. Second, it is a way for me to look at what people are reading, which can help me plan future group meeting topics as well as new posts. Third, it’s self-preservation. It’s a busy time of the year and I only have so much time like everyone else. This is an easy to write post!
10: Screen Time Limits
Setting Screen Time Limits is important to everyone. We all waste time on our screens, but we can’t simply get rid of them. They are a fantastic resource for information and a way to communicate with people we can’t talk to directly. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of checking one more app or playing one more game when we should be doing other things. People with ADHD are at risk due to their executive management issues with time management, impulsivity, and more. Learn some practical strategies on regulating your screen time so you have more time for other things!
9: What does brain imaging tell us about ADHD?
We’re able to look at the brain in many novel ways that are helping us to better understand its function and development. Studies have shown that kids with ADHD have smaller brains than kids without ADHD. Learn what brain imaging can tell us about ADHD and what the limitations are in What does brain imaging tell us about ADHD?
8: Genetics of ADHD
If you know people who doubt that ADHD is a real condition, you can share new research that has located 12 specific areas in our genes that link directly to the symptoms of ADHD. Learn more in Genetics of ADHD.
7: Stimulants decrease brain function? Say what?
Yes, I was going for a click bait title with this one, but only in response to the headlines that made mainstream news about a study showing Adderall decreased brain function. 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 (such as in those with ADHD) and in a brain that does not, so don’t freak out. Read Stimulants decrease brain function? Say What? to learn more!
6: 10 Secrets of Productivity
Who doesn’t want Secrets of Productivity?
5: Celebrate ADHD… Yes, Really!
One of the disappointing aspects of ADHD is that children are made to feel that they are bad and inferior. Most societies want children to do as they’re told in the way they’ve been shown. School in particular is difficult for kids with brains that work differently. The truth is that we should cultivate the characteristics that individuals have. If given the opportunity to learn in ways they learn best and to express their creativity and problem solving, people who think differently can excel. Many adults with ADHD finally find their purpose later in life when they can use the way their brains work to their advantage. Learn more in Celebrate ADHD.
4: 5 Self-Confidence Boosters Part 1: Stop Negativity
I’m surprised this is the most popular in the series of Self Confidence Boosters because it’s rather negative and the others are positive. I suppose it’s because if we recognize that we have a problem with negativity, we want to fix it.
3: How To Get A Growth Mindset
This is my personal favorite because I love this topic. A growth mindset is associated with success more than intelligence. Let that soak in… our perspective on life can help us be more successful. Learn How to Get A Growth Mindset.
2: Watch Out for Rejection Sensitivity
This is a topic that is a relatively new idea to me, but in hindsight I feel like I’ve always known of it. Kids with ADHD are particularly sensitive to criticism. They tend to have low self esteem and are often easily upset by things that wouldn’t bother others. Learn more about Rejection Sensitivity and what you can do to protect yourself against it.
1: What is ADHD? Why do some develop it?
The most read post is What is ADHD? Why do some develop it? It helps to introduce the basics of what causes ADHD and, sometimes more importantly, what does not cause it. If you know people who blame poor parenting or bad teachers, share this with them.
What’s your favorite?
What has been your favorite post on ADHDKCTeen?
What topics would you like covered in 2019?
Let me know in the comments below!
As we hear holiday songs of joy and cheer, it’s a great time to talk about the Joy of Missing Out: JOMO. This winter break don’t waste your time looking at all the great photos of what your friends are doing. Fear of missing out, FOMO, leads to depression and feelings of insecurity. Find your own fun. Learn to appreciate the joy of missing out.
FOMO is everywhere
We’re able to see what our friends are up to at all hours of the day and night. People tend to post pics of what they do when they’re having fun. It’s great to see them enjoying whatever that is, but a part of us tends to be jealous.
When we see peers over and over again having a blast and getting lots of likes, it appears that they’re always having fun and they’re very popular. We forget that they have moments when they’re sitting alone bored and scrolling through social media wishing they were the one in the photo. They also have times that they feel all alone.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Believe me. Everyone has down moments. We just don’t post to say we’re doing nothing. Unless we want attention – and there’s a problem there too!
FOMO is a big problem
FOMO leads to more time online checking and rechecking to be sure you’re not missing the latest and greatest.
Excessive social media use can lead to less sleep – which in turn increases anxiety, depression, risk of accidental injury or death, and more.
The drive to know what’s going on at all times can lead to checking in at inappropriate times:
- In class. How many have had phones taken away?
- While driving. This puts not only your life in danger, but also the lives of others. Not to mention that it’s illegal in many states – including when you’re at a stop light.
- While in the presence of others. It’s rude to check your phone when others are trying to talk to you! You can make your friend feel insignificant if it’s more important to play on your phone when you’re spending time with them.
- When you should be sleeping. Being on a screen suppresses your melatonin so you don’t feel tired. If you have to get up in 8 hours, you should be sleeping.
- When you should be studying or working. How often do you stay up late to finish homework? Think about how much time you wasted while doing your homework and checking in. And how many hours you spend procrastinating doing what you should be doing.
- When you could be exercising. Obesity is a real risk of too much sitting around looking at your phone. Get out there and move!
Today’s teen culture is built around how people appear online. The number of followers and likes seem to indicate how good or popular you are.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Generations of people were happy and satisfied, popular and self fulfilled without shouting to the world what they were doing.
Studies show that social media use is linked to anxiety and depression. It might actually be hazardous to your mental health.
Friends often have insomnia so reach out online. Don’t feel like you need to see their post immediately. It will be there tomorrow – you can see it when you have scheduled social media time.
What can you do to learn JOMO?
You might think it’s too hard to stay off line. How will you possibly keep up with the gossip and know what’s going on?
That’s the point… you don’t need to! Your real friends and family will talk to you about what’s important to them. You can share with them everything that’s important to you by talking with them and being with them.
FOMO is strong. Fear is a big driver of what we do and how we feel.
Find a passion
If you love a sport, art, music, or other activity, schedule regular time to do that activity.
Being with others who share the same passion will encourage you do do it even more and build strong connections with people.
Enjoy the moment
There’s a lot of research that show mindfulness helps to lower our anxiety and fight depression.
It’s not easy to learn, but there are many ways to be mindful. Start with an app or read a book. Attend a group session or class on mindfulness.
Manage time online
Keep track of how much time you spend online. Break that time into essential school and work related things and non-essential time.
Think about how much time you really should be spending online. Where can you cut back to give yourself more time to be with friends and family or to practice self-care tasks? Wouldn’t it be great to have more time for sleep?
For more on managing screen time, see Screen Time Limits. There are even some examples for apps that can help you track your time.
If you recognize that certain people trigger FOMO, unfollow them.
By unfollowing certain people you can still check on your friends and family who live out of town and stay in touch with them. But the people you don’t really care about won’t bother you. And you can look forward to catching up with friends who actually tell you what’s going on in their lives.
You won’t see all the people you don’t need to see, so you’ll not feel like you’re left out, but you can spend less time scrolling and more time doing other stuff.
Make connections IRL
Stop building your self image based on your online image.
If you feel compelled to check on your posts to see how many have liked it, you have a problem.
Be yourself. Don’t worry about how many likes you get. Think about what matters to you can get involved in that.
Enjoy friends when you spend time with them in real life. It’s okay to like their posts, but it’s even better to share time doing fun things together.
Let friends know you really care by asking them to do things. They’ll appreciate the effort because they’re probably suffering from FOMO too! Of course they could have conflicts, so don’t be offended if they can’t always be available.
Take a break
I’ve seen several people over the years share a “see you later” post on their social sites. They let friends know they’re going off line for a day, a weekend, or more.
While I don’t really think you need to publicize it, I do think taking a break and not checking any social sites for a specified time can help you find what you’re missing by being online all the time. It can take time away from our screens to appreciate all the other stuff life has to offer. This extra time forces us to think about what we can do with our time. Boredom can lead to finding ourselves and our passions.
Publicizing going off line has pros and cons. It can seem to be a way to draw attention to yourself, but it also can let people know that you’re not hurt or in trouble. Some friends might be offended if you don’t reply quickly to a post. This will let you know you’re not mad at them or ignoring them. If this is the only way you feel like you don’t need to check in, then let people know you’re checking out. That also might stimulate them to do the same!
Make yourself, not companies, happy
Social sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are businesses. They’re in it to make money.
The more you check your social sites, the happier those businesses are. They’re doing their job if they get you to spend time on their products. They make more money if you see their ads. The more time spent on their app, the better investment they are to their sponsors, which brings in more money to them. They use psychology to get users to use their platform more. They don’t care if it makes you less mentally and physically healthy.
Stop playing into their game. Resist the urge to hop online.
Make yourself happy by finding a passion off the screen and doing it. Don’t make your life about the right photo op. If you live life to its fullest, you’ll have the memories… which is infinitely better than the likes from people you don’t really care about!
A new study shows 12 distinct areas in our DNA that link to ADHD.
I have recently written What is ADHD? Why do some develop it? and What does brain imaging tell us about ADHD? Both of these help to show that ADHD is NOT caused by bad parents, bad kids, or many of the other things that are blamed. It is a disorder of brain development that has a genetic basis. Today we’ll go into some of the genetics of ADHD. My hope is that by learning how and why ADHD develops, we can stop blaming people for acting the way they do and treat the symptoms to help individuals thrive.
A bit about studying genetics
Twins are often used to study the inheritance of medical conditions because they have similar genetics and environment. Twin studies have shown that ADHD has a genetic link 70-80% of the time, but we haven’t identified a specific gene previously.
It has been thought that a range of small and hard to identify differences in the sequence of nucleotides, which are components of DNA, combine to increase the likelihood of ADHD. These single nucleotide polymorphisms are referred to as SNPs. Environmental factors play a greater or lesser role (or sometimes none at all) depending on exactly which genetic variations are present.
What are SNPs?
SNPs are commonly pronounced like the word “snips”.
They are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single nucleotide in our DNA strands.
SNPs occur normally throughout a person’s DNA. They occur once in every 300 nucleotides on average. There are about 10 million SNPs in the human genome. They can act as biological markers, helping scientists locate genes that are associated with disease. When SNPs occur within a gene or in a regulatory region near a gene, they may play a more direct role in disease by affecting the gene’s function.
Does this cause a problem?
Most SNPs have no effect on health or development.
Some of these genetic differences have been shown to be very important in the study of human health. SNPs that may help predict an individual’s response to certain drugs, susceptibility to environmental factors, and risk of developing particular diseases. SNPs can also be used to track the inheritance of disease genes within families.
For an interactive way to look at SNPs, see Learn Genetics.
What does the study show?
A new large study has shown 12 specific differences that link to ADHD. Size is important. If a study is of only 100 people, the results could be very skewed. This study included 20,183 people diagnosed with ADHD and 35,191 controls without ADHD. This large size increases the reliability of the study.
Twelve SNPs were identified that are linked to ADHD, but we must still learn what this means in terms of development of ADHD. Much like some people have a genetic predisposition to cancer but never develop cancer and others without a genetic risk still develop cancer, some people can have the SNPs without ADHD and some people without these SNPs can develop ADHD.
How can this help us?
ADHD is real
One important thing that genetic studies can do is to help people understand that ADHD is a real condition. It is not made up. Yes, it can be over diagnosed in some people and missed in others, but it is real either way.
Learning about symptoms
Comparing this study with similar ones of related conditions can lead to new understandings of relationships of the conditions.
For example, one SNP pattern found overlaps with those discovered in a similar study of insomnia. Many people with ADHD suffer from sleep problems, so this might lead to specific treatments of sleep disturbances.
Limitations of the study
This is not a study that will help us diagnose ADHD.
Specific ways that the genes lead to symptoms are not yet known.
How other factors, such as prematurity, nutrition, and life experiences, interact with the genetic predisposition must be further investigated.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Diagnosis of ADHD requires that symptoms exist in at least two settings, such as home and school.
Standardized assessment scales should be used to assess risk of ADHD. These scales are commonly done by parents, teachers, and others close to a child. Adult rating scales are available for adults with suspected ADHD.
Evaluation to assess for other disorders and conditions that can mimic ADHD, such as learning disorders, sleep deprivation and anxiety, should be completed.
Blood tests and brain imaging are not required to diagnose or treat ADHD.
Future research may help us learn to manage the symptoms of ADHD in new ways.
My hope is that learning the causes of ADHD will not only help us manage the non-desired symptoms, but also cultivate the beneficial attributes and decrease the stigma and misunderstanding so we can help people with ADHD learn to thrive.
We now are able to look at the brain in ways that show its development and function. Studies have shown that kids with ADHD have smaller brains than kids without ADHD. This does not correlate with the head size your doctor measures in infancy, and head size does not help physicians predict ADHD.
Last week’s post What is ADHD? Why do some develop it? introduced the concept that ADHD is a brain disorder, not a problem with parenting or other common misbeliefs. Today we’ll go more in depth into how brain imaging has shown differences when people have ADHD. Next week we’ll go further into the genetics of it.
There are many ways we can image the brain for different reasons. Single-photon emission computer tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are all being studied to show different aspects of brain function and development.
Some of the studies look at blood flow to various parts of the brain during different tasks to show which parts of the brain are triggered and how that differences among different groups of people. Others look at subtle changes in brain growth.
With vs without ADHD
Brain imaging comparing large groups of kids with ADHD to those without ADHD show significant differences. These are very subtle differences and are still considered investigational. The changes are too subtle to diagnose ADHD in any one person.
There are several areas of the brain that have been shown to be smaller in children with ADHD. At this time the specific areas of delayed growth do not correlate with specific treatments.
ADHD is a brain condition
It is not recommended to do imaging studies to diagnose ADHD, but the fact that large groups of people show differences highlights the fact that ADHD is a real disorder of the brain.
Hopefully as this information is recognized, the stigma of ADHD and other brain disorders will be lost. People will be able to understand that it is a real brain dysfunction.
The case for a clinical diagnosis
Studying brain differences helps us to understand ADHD, but imaging is less useful to any individual for diagnosis. We have a good track record for diagnosing ADHD with standardized questions and a clinical history.
Images capture a moment in time, but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
What happens to a brain in different circumstances? It can be very insightful to ask what happens when a child is doing a favorite activity versus when he’s stressed.
Clinical history can cover different situations over time. This cannot be captured in any brain image.
To be useful for diagnosis and management of a medical condition, a test must first:
- Be reliable: The changes seen are very subtle, and results must be shown to be accessible and identifiable in individuals to be useful for diagnosis. If only a few trained people can identify the subtle differences, it will not be available or helpful to most people.
- Show safety: Everything we do in healthcare must be shown to be safe and effective before it’s used. Risks and benefits must be weighed. Risks of imaging must be considered.
- Show benefit: If a clinical diagnosis can be made, what benefit would be attained by doing an expensive test? If it does not add to the treatment, it should not be done. Since the large majority of people with ADHD can be diagnosed clinically, we should not need to do studies that add risk and cost.
Back to the prefrontal cortex…
In What is ADHD? Why do some develop it? I mentioned that the prefrontal cortex and said that it was especially interesting. Let’s talk more about why.
Studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex develops more slowly in children and teens with ADHD. This means that the areas of the brain that control executive functioning are thinner in children with ADHD versus those without ADHD.
Functional imaging shows that the frontal lobes in children function less during activities involving concentration, memory, decision-making and problem solving.
It’s even more than that. Those with worse outcomes as they mature have fixed thinning (it doesn’t ever normalize) but those who ultimately develop a normal thickness have a better outcome.
A thinner brain cortex is not a damaged brain. It is an alteration in development.
Other parts of the brain are affected too
Our cerebellum helps us with movement and memory. Children with ADHD show slower growth of cerebellar white matter in early childhood, but faster growth in late childhood.
The amygdala and hippocampus are also smaller in the brains of people with ADHD. These areas are responsible for emotional processing and impulsivity, problem areas for many with ADHD.
What does all of this mean?
You guessed it: it’s still being studied.
Studies continue to help us learn more about brain structure and function. We also continue to learn about the chemical interactions that happen while our brain is working.
What all this information means and how we can use it to best manage the troubling symptoms of ADHD is yet to be fully uncovered.
It may be possible one day to predict which children will develop ADHD and change something in the early years to alter that development. But we’re not there yet…
Does a slower development of certain brain areas have an advantage? Maybe the slower development of the cerebellum is why kids with ADHD learn better when they fidget.
These are the things we still need to learn.
We don’t really know the full extent of it yet.
Coming up next:
What do we know about the genetics of ADHD?
ADHD was first recognized as a behavior problem, but now we know it’s a developmental disorder. Don’t worry though. Having a developmental disorder doesn’t make you stupid or damaged. It simply means that brain development is a bit different. We’ll tackle details here.
Typical Brain Development
Our brains have billions of nerve cells called neurons that start developing a few weeks after conception. Within 6 months after conception, there are even more neurons than are found in an adult brain. As we develop, neurons grow and make connections with one another. The number of brain cells decrease as unneeded neurons are pruned away.
A network of fibers develops to connect the brain cells in order to interact with other parts of the brain and to perform complex functions. Neurotransmitters help send messages between nerve cells.
We’ll tackle neurotransmitters more in future posts. They’re important!
How long does it take for the brain to fully develop?
We might look pretty mature by our teen years, but our brain is still growing!
The first 3-4 years of life is a time of rapid brain development, but it continues for more than 20 years.
The prefrontal cortex is especially interesting. It helps us plan, organize, make decisions, and maintain self control. These are considered executive functions and are often problematic for those with ADHD.
The prefrontal cortex typically doesn’t finish full development until mid-20s. That means our brains are still developing key areas into our early adult years!
How does ADHD develop?
There are many things that affect our brain development that can lead to symptoms of ADHD.
At this point we don’t diagnose the cause of the ADHD since treatment is geared toward addressing the symptoms, but it can be helpful to know that there are many reasons a person develops ADHD.
Like many things, brain development is affected by our genetics. Genetics affects how we look, how tall we should grow, our intelligence, and risks of certain health problems – such as cancer or heart disease. Of course our genetics are only the blueprint. Our environment, nutrition, experiences, and much more also affect how we grow and develop.
If one parent has ADHD, a child is more likely to have ADHD. If both parents have ADHD, their child is much more likely to have ADHD.
While a baby is still in its mother’s womb, it is considered a fetus. This is considered the prenatal time of development.
Many things can affect development during the prenatal time. Drugs and alcohol, illness, and other stressors affecting the mother can affect the baby.
Prematurity (being born before the due date) and being small at birth can increase the risk of developmental disorders, including ADHD.
Illness, injury, toxins and more… oh, my!
The first few years of a child’s life can be complicated by illness, injury, nutritional deficiencies, and toxins. These can all affect brain development.
Even after the critical developmental years, injuries and toxins to the brain can change our brain function. Think of a teen or adult who has had a concussion. Their brain function can be severely altered. They might suffer from mental fogginess, fatigue, irritability, and more after the injury. In fact, sometimes people will be treated with medications commonly used for ADHD temporarily after a concussion.
What it’s NOT:
ADHD is not due to bad parenting, poor discipline, or bad schools.
Yes, those things can worsen a child’s behavior, but they don’t cause ADHD.
What about sugar?
ADHD also isn’t from too much sugar.
Studies have even shown that even when a parent perceives worsening of behavior after sugar, independent observers see no real change. For more on that and how diets affect ADHD, see Special Diets for ADHD.
I was excited to attend the 2018 International Conference on ADHD with a group of ADHDKC board members. I’ll try to recap some of the best information learned.
We were all able to make connections with people from all over the world who research and treat symptoms associated with ADHD and with those who are in various learning stages about their own ADHD. It was not uncommon throughout the conference to hear that people found their tribe…
Too much information
There were many simultaneous talks during the 4 day conference. I went to many great talks but missed others. I tried to tweet #ADHDcon2018 during the conference, but couldn’t pay attention and tweet at the same time, so missed a lot of points to share.
I was very fortunate to meet Marylin, a woman from France who is passionate about learning and sharing information about ADHD. She shared with me that ADHD is not commonly recognized in France and she is working to change that. Learn more about her organization at TDAH.
Marilyn recorded several of the sessions and uploaded them to her Facebook page. I’ll share these along with other information below.
Translation from Facebook:
If you thought ADHD was reserved for children….
If you thought that: in the same way as intellectual early, (fortunately less and less used) ADHD disappears over time….
If you thought ADHD was a bad education…. too permissive….
If you thought ADHD was a simple motor hyperactivity….
So…. it’s time to learn, to inform you to understand this neurobiological disorder that affects millions of people around the world: Children, adolescents, adults, men and women together.
The symptoms differ, however, the disorder remains the same.
ADHD is an invisible, ill-known, misunderstood handicap, particularly in France, where diagnosis and care have accumulated considerably harmful delays. 10, 15 (rather 20 years to be honest) compared to other countries of the world.
ADHD is not happy with associated disorders (called morbid), dyslexia, dyscaculie, ect… anxiety disorder, disorder disorder with provocation.
Non-diagnosed ADHD may also lead to adolescent-Risk Pipelines: Sexuality, driving, risk-taking, addictions,
(drugs, tobacco, alcohol) unwanted pregnancies, and
D after the latest research: a considerably reduced longevity. Are you ready to open your eyes and ears and change your states d spirits…
Dr. Russel Barkley
Dr. Russel Barkley is a world renowned expert on ADHD and was one of the keynote speakers. He spoke at the Midwest ADHD Conference sponsored by ADHDKC.org last spring, so you might recognize him and his message: untreated (and undertreated) ADHD has risks!
If you want to skip to Dr. Barkley, go to 8 min. To do this, hover over the bottom and click on the Facebook icon. It will bring you to the Facebook video, and you can scroll forward.
Unique Challenges Facing Mothers & Daughters with ADHD
Our own Jeremy Didier and her daughter were among a panel of mother/daughter pairs who talked about living with ADHD.
I was not in this session, but found a snippet on Twitter:
Jessica McCabe from How to ADHD
For those who don’t know her, she has made a name for herself making videos about ADHD. I’ve been a fan of her videos for several years, so seeing her live was awesome!
One of her first slides summarized the other three keynote speakers talks.
Marylin also caught this in full on Facebook live. Start at about 14 min in to skip all the conference acknowledgements if you’re not interested in those.
I was really excited to see that Coach Diane, from Odyssey Learning, was speaking at this conference. Since I won’t be able to make her local talk next month, it was fantastic to hear how she uses creative ways to help kids and teens learn executive function skills.
If you can make it to her local talk, please RSVP on SignUpGenius. Her ADHDKC talk will be geared for tweens and teens, but her slides are more for professionals working with people with ADHD.
All of her slides are available from her website, Odyssey Learning.
What did she talk about?
She talked about how we’re wired to learn when we’re interested. Everyone, but especially those with ADHD, struggle to pay attention when they aren’t interested.
Fear, stress, boredom and anxiety of course make learning even harder, and these are common traits found in people with ADHD. When kids with ADHD are bored, they can suffer from agitation. This gets mislabeled as a behavior problem, but it’s a neurological problem!
Making new concepts and information interesting is one successful way to help people learn. She uses cooking, games, magic, and more to help kids learn.
Backwards planning is one strategy that helps kids complete tasks. Knowing where you want to end up, then coming up with all the steps that are required to get there, is backwards planning. She will use cooking to model backwards planning, then help kids learn to generalize the skill to real life examples.
So much more…
If you are able to make it to the next conference, it should be great!
Studies consistently show that people who know how to learn and have grit are more successful than people who are smart but don’t have resilience. That means we all need to learn how to learn and how to be resilient!
Let’s start with the basics and then review a few learning techniques that can help.
If you take a few minutes each day to fill out a planner and review what needs to be done, you will save yourself a ton of time overall. And have fewer periods of last minute anxieties!
There are many organization systems out there. Online planners and paper planners each have their pros and cons. The most important thing is that you pick one that works for you. Just search for reviews of planners, and you’ll find many suggestions.
There’s also the Google calendar or iCal – both offer the ability to keep track of things wherever you are! There are also many online apps for organization, most of which offer free versions as well as premium plans.
The most important thing about calendars and planners: put everything in them and use them regularly.
Of course you should put all your assignments in your planner. Also add in your extracurriculars. If you’re making plans with friends, add that in too. Don’t forget to add in time for exercise and sleep. Everything that’s important should be in there!
Don’t put it off!
It’s tempting to put off studying until the last minute, but don’t fall for the temptation.
Some people even say they do best at the last minute because of the adrenaline rush they get from the anxiety of the last minute. But chances are if you really look at it, you do a much better job and feel much better if you pace yourself and do a little each day.
If you finish parts of tasks on time at a healthy pace, you’ll have less time spent worrying about it. This leaves more time to enjoy life. You’ll probably sleep better and be healthier!
Your brain needs sleep to process and store information. All nighters will keep you from performing at your best.
Study in the evening, get a good night’s sleep, then review your notes a bit in the morning. This is a recipe for success!
There are studies showing that people who exercise right before a test do better than those who cram a little longer.
Exercise is not only great for your body… it’s also good for your mind!
If you get stuck in negativity, you’ll waste a ton of time and energy just being mad or scared.
It’s easy to fall into the trap. If you start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated that you won’t have enough time to finish a report, you will waste even more time not doing the report. It’s too easy to waste time worrying.
How do you change your mindset from, “I’ll never finish this,” to “I might have waited a long time to start this, but I’ve always been able to push through and finish it in the past”? See the “Related Posts” section at the bottom of this blog.
Write it down
Take notes as you study. The process of writing helps people remember.
Don’t simply re-write exactly what you hear in lecture or read in your textbook. Summarize the thought in your own words. This helps much more!
Writing has been shown to be more effective than typing to help with learning, so unless you can’t write, put the keyboard aside and use a simple pen and paper! (Maybe a pen on the appropriate screen would be okay… I don’t know if that’s been studied.)
Memorizing dates, words in a foreign language, and more can be difficult, but associating them with something else can make a big difference.
I still remember many of the mnemonics I used years ago….
Who else learned “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to learn to read music?
You can use images, songs, word associations and rhymes to help remember difficult information. This great video explains how to use several of the techniques.
Sing a tune – one type of mnemonic
Songs and rhymes help us learn. You know how you can remember all the words to your favorite song, right? Words in a song are grouped together more easily in our mind and are easier to remember than non-associated words.
Pick a familiar tune and put the information you need to learn in it. If you’re not that creative or short on time, search your topic with “music” or “song” and check out the results.
Singing is one type of mnemonic memorization. For more types and descriptors, see Try these 9 Types of Mnemonics to Improve Your Memory.
What’s your learning style?
You might have heard that everyone has their own learning style. It’s true. Some people learn from reading things best. Other people are more auditory learners – they learn from listening.
There are 7 basic learning styles. We’ll cover more of those in a future post.
See our related posts:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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?
Take the time to rewind and rethink a situation that didn’t end well.
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.
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.