Happy New Year! You might be thinking "Huh? Is 2020 over!?" no, not yet, but September has always seemed like a natural start for the year. It's like the month of NEW! Everyone is waking back up from those last dog days of summer, getting back from vacation, the air is crisper, a new school year begins, and events and community groups that took a summer break are starting up again. So this month’s theme is New Beginnings.
Whether your new beginning is getting newly diagnosed with ADHD, starting a new year of school, or just trying to pick up a new habit, nothing gets the dopamine going and the blood pumping like something NEW! Novelty, creation, potential, possibilities!
Novelty and newness are intensely stimulating to the brain, which increases the levels of dopamine and makes it easier to get things done. However the brain adapts to new things very quickly. The dopamine goes down, boring routine sets in and we recoil in horror as the shiny new thing becomes yet another failed project or something we've lost interest in.
The goal is finding the balance between newness and routine. We need to be selective in when we pursue novelty and when we buckle down; going to a new coffee shop to work can make studying easier, but changing majors every semester will make it impossible to graduate. And if we are going to be welcoming many new things into our lives, we also have to be careful that we don't let them break the bank. Getting into golf doesn’t necessarily mean going and buying a pair of golf clubs, maybe you can start by borrowing some from a friend until you see if it is the game of golf you love or just the novelty of it being 'a new thing'.
In our Toolbox this month we discuss a few ways you might be able to harness that ADHD love of novelty and newness for studying. These tips can apply to many other things as well, such as work, doing tedious tasks, or really anything that has become a struggle because it feels too 'boring' and 'routine'. We've also tossed in a couple of interesting articles that share some of the ways our novelty-seeking tendencies can actually be beneficial. Enjoy!
~ Sandy Slade
WEDNESDAY ADULT ADHD SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS (ONLINE): WHEN: Every Wednesday evening at 7:30pm-9:00pm Atlantic Time. WHERE: Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9720415025
Meeting ID: 972 041 5025
If you haven't used Zoom you can check it out here. The first time you join a meeting you may be prompted to download some software, after that zoom will be able to launch from your computer when you click a meeting link.
OCTOBER IS ADHD AWARENESS MONTH!
We have some fun things planned for October - watch our Facebook page and the October Newsletter for details!
ADDing to your Toolbox
Our dopamine response to novelty is often a challenging aspect to having ADHD, but can you turn it into a helpful tool? Here are three ways our support group members harness our love of new things to help us tackle the boring stuff. Remember that these strategies don't work for everyone, and may only work at certain times or in certain circumstances. As ADHDers we do run the risk of pursuing novelty for novelty's sake so so disclaimer: If you try these strategies and they aren't working then you need to rethink them and try a different approach!
CHANGE UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT:
Having a single, dedicated spot to do certain tasks is often a good strategy. However, if you find yourself subconsciously seeking other stimuli in your normal spot it can sometimes help to change up your environment. Read outside, go to a coffee shop (if your local social distancing requirements permit it), stand instead of sitting. Sometimes having the novel sounds, smells, and sensations of these changes can free up your focus a bit more.
USE COLOURS AND NEW MATERIALS:
Every month my scheduling feels like a fresh start because my planner has a completely new colour scheme. Using new pens and stickers re-invigorates my interest in planning out tasks and even gives a little motivation to get them done. Likewise something as simple as getting a new binder can help me want to work on an otherwise dull project with renewed excitement. Just don't let this strategy lead to an office-supply addiction (not that I know anything about that!).
DOVETAIL DULL TASKS ONTO MORE NOVEL THINGS:
Is there something new you are really going to enjoy that could overlap with a task, like listening to new music while doing some work? Or perhaps you can use a novel thing as a reward, when you finish this work you can listen to that new podcast. Think of ways to incorporate the new and novel things that excite you into motivation or assistance to get the less fun things done.
Our regular list of resources can be found on our website HERE.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stress and disruption for everyone, but for those of us with ADHD there are some particular reasons it may be difficult to cope. We've assembled a collection of external resources that we think may be helpful to you: