5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 5: Helping Others

Did you know that helping others has been proven to make us feel better? This is the final post in a series of ways to gain confidence and feel better. It’s my personal favorite. When kids are little they often have a hard time believing that it’s better to give than it is to receive, but most of us learn that it’s true somewhere along the way.

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. Booker T Washington
Source: NewAfrikan77

Find ways that you can make a difference for someone else. It can be big or small. Everything counts.

The one caveat is you should do it to help others, not to help yourself. Part of the magic of how it works is that we’re putting someone else ahead of ourselves.

Find a cause you’re passionate about and work for that cause. There are many. If you aren’t sure how to commit your time, try a few short term commitments out to see how they work for you.

Another thing to remember is that everything should be done in moderation. If you overextend yourself with too much to do, you will become overwhelmed and be unable to do anything well. Make sure you reserve time to do the things you need to do: school work, eating healthy, exercise, and sleep.

Choose service opportunities that are important to you. Don’t do things just because someone asks you to do it. It’s okay to say “no” if it’s not the right thing for you to do. If you do things that are not right for you, you will more likely resent what you’re doing instead of enjoying the many benefits of it.

Chinese proverb- happiness

Gain perspective.

Stress management and resilience can be gained by helping those in need. When you see how others live, you have a better perspective on your own life. You can learn empathy, compassion and solidarity with others.

Once you learn first hand about others, you can help to dispel common myths and prejudices.

Personal development.

One of the big ways we grow through volunteering is through personal development. When you branch out and do something for others, you learn about yourself.

You may recognize how your actions impact others by seeing how they benefit from what you’re doing.

Sometimes you learn about resilience by seeing others in unfortunate circumstances being strong.

Social skills can also be developed when you’re volunteering. You will most likely need to interact with other people when helping others. While being alone can lead to depressive thoughts, being with others can help us feel better.

Leadership roles might need to be taken, which involves strong organization and communication skills.

You might need to use teamwork to finish a project. Many projects require problem solving skills – and people with ADHD tend to be great problem solvers!

Studies show that when we help others with their stressful situations, we help our own emotion regulation skills and emotional well being.

Whatever skills you learn in your volunteer work, you can bring with you. It might spark an interest for a career or just help you in your daily life.

Feeling of community.

When you volunteer with others, you may gain new friends and make connections with your community.

If you’re working in an area that interests you, you will find others with similar interests.

You will meet people you might otherwise not have the opportunity to get to know. Finding things in common or things to value about one another can help you learn about yourself and about relationships.

Being part of a group of volunteers can help you feel a part of the community. That connection can build self confidence and a feeling of belonging.

Internal rewards.

Helping others and doing good just feels good. It makes us happy to make others happy.

Healthy body.

Volunteering means getting up and doing something. Too often we sit around and listen to music or play online. This isn’t good for our bodies.

Some volunteering is very active. If you’re cleaning an area, repairing or building a home or planting trees, you’re getting a lot of exercise.

Some volunteering is less physically active, but still active. Playing cards or bingo at a retirement center or stuffing envelopes is better than sitting in front of a computer.

Teenager Volunteer Demographics
Source: https://www.nationalservice.gov/vcla/demographic/teenagers

Need ideas to start helping others?

If you’re in the KC Metro and need help finding something to do, check out this Pinterest Board of KC Service Opportunities. Enjoy helping others!

5 Confidence Boosters:

  1. 5 tips for boosting your self confidenceStop the negativity
  2. Be Positive
  3. Finish Tasks
  4. The Big 3
  5. Help Others

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Please share it if you have, and comment on what you liked and didn’t like in it. What was missing? What has helped you the most over the years boost your self confidence?

5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 4: The Big 3!

Eat right, exercise, and sleep to keep up a healthy body and mind! I call these “The Big 3” things we all need to do to be healthy in mind and body. When we do The Big 3 properly, our self confidence and self esteem are improved.

What are The Big 3?

Eating right, exercise, and sleep.

Eat a nutritionally well balanced diet.

Malnutrition and hunger are not good for our focus. As if people with ADHD need any more problems with focus!

Many of the medicines used to treat the problems from ADHD affect our appetite, so we must be careful to make the most of what we eat.

Start with a good breakfast. I know many teens aren’t into breakfast or just don’t have time for it, but make the time. Find foods that you can eat while getting ready or on the way to school. Examples are smoothies with yogurt, leftovers from dinner, a sandwich and a quesadilla.

Eat some protein and a fruit or vegetable every time you eat. Snack on baby carrots, bell peppers, or cucumbers with hummus after school. Or apples with peanut butter. Grapes and cheese. Strawberries with yogurt. You get the picture? A plant and a protein!

Exercise.

Many people feel that exercise helps their focus. Studies show that they’re right!

After sitting all day at school, do something active before you sit down to do homework. Your body needs the exercise and it will help make study time more efficient.

If you’re not into competitive sports, try other types of exercise. Go for a bike ride. Run. Dance. Swim. Just move!

Whatever you do, make it fun. Put it on your calendar and in your planner so it happens daily.

Sleep.

Sleep is under-appreciated in our society. It is not a time that you’re doing nothing. Your body and mind work hard while you’re sleeping to keep themselves healthy.

Teens need at least 8.5 hours of sleep each day. Even if you’ve reached your full height, your brain is growing until your mid-twenties. That means it still needs extra sleep compared to adults.

If you’re still growing, you might need 10-11 hours of sleep.

That’s hard when you also have activities, work, and homework. And when your circadian rhythm keeps you up until at least 11 pm but school starts at 7:30am. Not to mention the baseline problems people with ADHD tend to have falling asleep due to minds racing with amazing thoughts.

But here’s what happens when teens are sleep deprived..

My favorite sleep tips:

Exercise.

Exercise itself is one of The Big 3, but it also helps us sleep. Try to get your exercise in early in the day. Exercise can help tire your body so it can sleep well.

Avoid too much exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. This is not possible with some activities, I know. But exercising too close to bedtime can make it harder to wind down.

Avoid caffeine and stimulants too close to bedtime.

Caffeine is one of the most commonly used substances to help us stay awake and focused, but it’s not always safe. It is habit forming. It’s also a stimulant, so can be especially problematic if you take a stimulant medicine. The additive effects of the two together can cause problems in some people.

Stimulants like adderall and ritalin are commonly used to treat ADHD, but should be used under the supervision of your physician.

If you use caffeine to help your focus or to stay awake, be sure to talk about the use with your doctor. This is especially true if you use a stimulant medicine, but even if you’re not. Relying on caffeine can be an indicator that you are self medicating something that could be better controlled with proper sleep or a prescription medication.

If you take a stimulant medicine, don’t take it too late in the day. Long acting medicines can last 8-16 hours. Short acting medicines last 3-4 hours. Know what you’re taking and when they tend to wear off. It’s unique to each person, but you can usually feel the effects wear off. If you take it too close to bedtime, it can cause sleep problems. For many teens, they can’t take a long acting medicine after 10 am or a short acting medicine after 6 pm, but how your medicine works in your body will be unique to you. Pay attention to when you feel the medicine wears off each day to learn how long it lasts for you.

Turn down lights.

Turn down lights 2 hours before bedtime. Your body needs darkness to make melatonin. Melatonin makes you feel tired and helps you fall asleep. Artificial lights keep the melatonin level from increasing, so you feel less tired.

Fluorescent lights, televisions, computers, cell phones, tablets and all other lighted things can affect your melatonin level.

Check out f.lux, a free program for PCs, Macs, iPhones, and androids that changes the screen lighting prior to bedtime to allow natural melatonin to rise if you must be on a screen close to bedtime. Must means you have to finish homework that you couldn’t do earlier. It does not mean checking social media or texting friends. It also doesn’t mean putting off homework until later because you just don’t want to do it after school. Work and scheduled activities are a good excuse. Procrastination isn’t.

If you want to take a supplement of melatonin, talk to your doctor.

Watch out for late night munchies.

Avoid eating (especially large meals) before bedtime. Again, I know this can be hard, especially if you have after school activities that keep you busy and make you hungry.

This is even more difficult if your daytime medicine makes you not hungry at lunchtime. Of course try to eat at least something with good calories mid day, but if you don’t eat a typical lunch, you’ll need to make up the lost calories after the medicine wears off. Be sure to not eat foods that bother your stomach while laying down too close to bedtime.

Relax!

Do relaxing activities as part of your bedtime routine. These can include reading, taking a shower, coloring or listening to soothing music.

If thoughts keep you up, journal before climbing into bed. Journaling can help focus thoughts and allow your brain to stop thinking about them.

Relaxation exercises or deep breathing can help. Put a hand on your heart and on your abdomen. Try to keep your heart hand still while you take in a slow, deep breath. While you inhale count 4 counts and while you exhale count 8 counts. The deep breaths can make you feel tired, and the counting slowly helps keep your brain from racing thoughts.

Practice meditation every day. There are many mindfulness apps to try – and most are free. Once you’re used to using the technique (it’s great before doing homework) you can also use mindfulness at bedtime.

Set the stage.

Make your bed a place for sleep. Avoid doing homework on it. Let your body associate your bed with sleeping.

Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Use a fan to keep it cool and as a white noise.

Keep pets out of the bedroom. They tend to keep you up or wake you too early.

Ideally you’ll charge your phone in another room overnight to avoid late night distractions. If you must have your phone in your room, make sure no notifications will wake you. Resist checking it “one more time” as you go to bed because you know it will be several minutes of scrolling through things…

Stick to a schedule.

Keep your bedtime consistent.

Even if you can sleep in on weekends, try to go to bed within an hour of your usual bedtime. This schedule is important!

Still not sleeping?

For more on sleep, check out I Just Want To Go To Sleep! How to Sleep Better (According to Science) by “Hey Sigmund.”

Talk to your doctor if you’re not sleeping. Sleep deprivation can mimic ADHD symptoms, and you don’t need that additional problem!

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

Coming up next:

This is part 4 of a 5 part series.

Be sure to check back next week for one of my favorite ways to boost your self confidence: Help others.

Also look back at ways to boost your self confidence through:

 

5 Self Confidence Boosters Part 3: Finish tasks

Finish tasks?

Finishing tasks gives a feeling of accomplishment and raises our self confidence!
Finishing tasks gives a feeling of accomplishment and raises our self confidence!

Yes, even people with ADHD can complete tasks. When we finish whatever we start, we gain a feeling of accomplishment. It’s great!

Remember that procrastinating doesn’t get anything done. So stop talking about everything you need to do. Stop doing distractions. Start doing what needs to happen.

How in the world can someone who has executive functioning problems ever complete tasks on time… and remember to turn things in?

Keep a planner.

Yeah, I know. Your grade school teacher made you keep a planner and you hated it.

But they can help so much!

There’s something to a paper planner that helps many people organize more than the calendar in your smart phone. You can use that too, but putting things in your planner can help you visualize it better.

Finish the most important tasks first!
Finish the most important tasks first!

You can write all your assignments in your planner and even break them down so that different parts should be complete at different times. (Even if your teacher just has one due date – you can break it up and make it more manageable.)

Don’t forget to add all the other “stuff” you have to do, such as practice or work. And don’t forget leave out time for family, friends, exercise and sleep!

Get in the habit of looking a week ahead and then refreshing your memory each morning.
Get in the habit of looking at your calendar for the week ahead and then refreshing your memory each morning.

Put everything in the planner, so you can schedule time accordingly.

If you forget that you have late rehearsal on Wednesday and a big test on Thursday, that will put a crimp in study time. If you can see that on your weekly preview, you can put in a little more study time Tuesday and then a shorter study time Wednesday will be enough for the test.

Use a white board.

Using a white board is effective for many people.

Some people like to also use a white board to keep the big assignments and important goals in one place.

It’s a visual reminder of the big things that need to get done. You can even make a place for goals and positive messages.

Color code things so you can easily see things that are related by categories you choose.

Some people like check boxes to be able to check off what’s done!

Remove distractions.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of distractions in our world. Many we can’t control, but there are some that we can.

De-clutter.

If you’re a neat freak and your workspace is cluttered, quickly de-clutter it before you start to work.

Quickly is the key. Don’t use this as a means of procrastination.

The phone.

Doing any task that is not interesting to us (and even some that are) is harder when our phone is around. Even if the notification sound is turned off, it’s a temptation to just check what people are up to. Or play a quick game. Or post a quick selfie.

They’re all really quick, right?

It doesn’t matter. They all interrupt our focus, so they need to not happen.

Put your phone in another room.

I know many will insist that they use their phone as an alarm clock or for background noise.

You know what?

You can buy a kitchen timer for under $5. Or you can get an alarm clock that you can use to get you out of bed for under $10 and use for both circumstances. Your parents might even have one on a nightstand that is in working order.

Turn off notifications.

If you’re working on your computer, turn off notifications so that annoying box doesn’t keep popping up telling you of a new message. No one needs that distraction! The message will be there when you’re done.

Reward yourself when you’re done by checking your phone.

Schedule breaks.

It’s hard for anyone to stay focused for hours of anything.

Make a goal to work for 50 minutes (or whatever you can reasonably tolerate and still get things done). Set a timer to go off in 50 minutes. When your timer goes off, get up and take a break.

Set a timer for your break for 5-10 minutes so you can get back to work when it’s time.

Exercise is a great way to refresh your brain, so do jumping jacks, jog in place or do a little yoga.

You might also need a snack. Brain food! Try to pair a fruit or vegetable with a protein source each snack. High carbohydrate snacks and fatty foods can make you tired. Not good when you need to focus! Try an apple with peanut butter, carrots and hummus or cheese and grapes.

Be sure to keep track of your timer for each step and repeat until you’re done for the day!

Accommodations.

Use fidgets if they help you stay focused.

Stand at your desk if your focus is improved.

Sometimes even pacing while reading can help – unless you work better taking notes as you read.

Sit on an exercise ball or pillow to allow movement.

Swing your legs or do other movements that most likely come naturally to you.

Use a friend.

Ask a friend to be your accountability partner. You can really help each other out.

Text tasks to each other so you can ask if they’ve done their tasks and they can ask if you’ve done yours. Text each other when they’re done.

Make it a challenge to see how many days in a row you can keep it up. Challenges have a way to help us keep up with things!

When you finish tasks, send a quick pic of your successes!

Background noise.

While it isn’t good to have great tunes that distract you, studies show that background noise can drown out the distracting sounds.

When you’re studying or working on a project, use your ceiling fan, a white noise machine or music on low volume to drown out the other noises.

Break it up.

Big tasks are overwhelming. Break them into several smaller tasks.

Put each part of the task in your planner and stick to the mini-deadlines.

Give yourself kudos each step of the way. When you finish a section of whatever you’re doing, give yourself a little praise. At the end of the task, reward yourself with something you enjoy.

Don’t forget to check off completed tasks. It feels so good to mark things DONE!

Check back next week!

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Next week we’ll discuss self care and how that helps us keep up our self esteem and confidence! If you missed how to decrease negativity in part 1 or how to be positive in part 2, be sure to check them out.