By Alan Brown
Over the past several articles (this is the fourth and final article in the series), we’ve been discussing how many of the members of our ADHD tribe lack important internal structures – goal setting, planning, prioritization, and a realistic sense of time. Thus far, we’ve focused on the workplace, but just like your home, any structural improvements in your life must be built on top of a strong foundation. Today, we’re going to talk about your structural foundation, and how you can overcome any shortcomings in your internal structure by building your own external structures even in the foundation of your life.
So here’s the final installment of specific structural shortcomings paired with ways to build your own structures.
Lacking Structure in…Diet, Exercise and Sleep:
In many ways, these are the most important structures we’ve addressed, as they provide the foundation for all of the other structures in your life. Underlying each of our mental operations are the basic components of well-being: diet, exercise and sleep. If we don’t have some guiding principles and structured habits for these essential elements, we’re making our battle for workplace clarity way more difficult than it needs to be. We ADHD’ers can be guilty of being mighty flighty on all these fronts. So…
Build Your Own Structure:
We can’t go into great detail on all three elements of your foundation, so here are the crib notes on diet – my easily remembered mantra for “feeding your ADHD brain” properly.
- Sugar Sucks – particularly processed sugars. Avoid them like the plague and watch out for “hidden” sugars in juices and other “healthy” drinks and snacks. Sugar is lousy brain fuel.
- Carbs Kill – especially simple carbs. Of course, carbs don’t really kill – you need them to stay alive. But loading up on simple carbs (white bread, bagels, sugary cereals) for the ADHD’er is akin to wolfing down sugars – it is low‑quality brain fuel that wears off quickly and leaves you crashing.
- Protein is Power – that’s where you want your brain fuel coming from. Lean meats and most nuts/seeds provide reliable, longer-lasting mental energy. Snack on raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc., throughout your workday and you’ll notice a difference.
- Omegas are Mega – you’ve heard this one, and for good reason. Omega-3’s found in fish and certain nuts are proven brain candy (in a good way). Salmon and sardines are great sources, as are quality fish- and krill-oil supplements.
As far as exercise and sleep go, if you don’t have a structured exercise regimen including some cardio at least three times a week, and if you’re not getting to bed at a consistent time each night, then you need to build some structure around those PRONTO.
And the final bit of external structuring advice I have is to…
- Get a Coach! ADHD coaches are the ultimate partner in creating and implementing external structures. The very presence of a partner is itself a powerful strategy in succeeding, whether in the absence of a structured working environment or in a tightly knit corporate office.
Hope you enjoyed and benefited from this series. I had a great time writing and sharing it! Now get back to work!
Missed an installment? Link to all installments of this four-part series below!
Alan Brown, creator of the acclaimed ADD Crusher™ videos, was undiagnosed until adulthood and coping with chronic underachievement, substance abuse and worse. Upon diagnosis, he struggled to learn coping strategies from books, so he developed his own strategies. He is also co-author of best-selling 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD.