When I meet parents one of the first subjects that they are mindful of is the stress and pressure they feel.
It’s not easy managing kids with ADHD, jobs, after school activities and community obligations.
Parents feel overwhelmed and stressed by modern day parenting. Often, they laugh saying they don’t even have time to think about slowing down the pace of their lives.
Most parents tell me they feel stressed, anxious, and frustrated.
When parents get real in coaching, they share with me the feeling that they are failing as parents. Their ADHD kids have drained every ounce of patience from them due to fighting about homework, constant reminding and nagging about taking a shower, organizing their clothes for the morning, and screen time.
Any of this sound familiar?
When I ask parents how they de-stress…they give yet another hearty laugh!
“Are you kidding?
De-stress, relax… we have 3 kids, 2 with ADHD and one with LD…. we both work full time…When do you really think we could relax? “
Then I mention the M-word…. Meditation…. you can almost see them tense in their chairs.
They tell me they don’t have time to meditate.
They don’t live near a retreat center.
They can’t sit in funny positions, and they don’t want to join a Buddhist Temple. Therefore, Meditation is off the books…don’t bring it up again!
But there is research…I tell them…
The research shows that small doses of Mindful practices can be helpful in Executive Function challenges, mind wandering, and emotional regulation. “Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions.”
Inevitably the first question parents ask me is how in the world can kids or adults with ADHD sit silently?
Many believe it’s an oxymoron…. people with ADHD can’t sit still and can’t think about one thing.
I share with parents that Mindfulness is not about sitting still or about keeping one thought in their head. Mindfulness is about waking up to the present moment, being aware in a non-judgmental way of the thoughts and emotions that arise at any point in the day and just being with them. Not reacting or clinging to them.
Just being with them as they are in the present moment.
We are often in “doing” mode. We do the dishes, laundry, homework, and dinner. And that ADHD brain?
When is it not doing something?!
We rarely stop, take a step back, breathe and just be with ourselves in the present moment with whatever thoughts and emotions that arise- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
And our thoughts and emotions do arise. On average over we have about 2,000 thoughts an hour and over 50,000 thoughts a day.
Our heads are a very busy place.
Our brains have non-stop thoughts, judgments, views, and just plain old chatter. It is so noisy that most people don’t even know how noisy it is until they begin to hear some “silence” and then they notice the habitual noise in their heads.
With so much noise in our heads no wonder people with ADHD have a hard time focusing or bringing their mind into focus.
So how can Mindful Meditation be helpful for people with ADHD?
And how can parents who have such busy lives have time to slow down and well…literally smell the morning coffee?
Here are a few tips to help get you going: Start with yourself…If you feel a bit less stress and a bit more mindful, your children will be more likely to join with you in the journey to calm.
- Stop 3-4 times a day (yes…put a reminder on your phone…it is a new habit!), and just take a few slow breaths in and out…close your eyes if you are comfortable…and just be their feeling the air going in and out of your body.
- When you eat, take a moment to just notice the food, the smells, colors, textures. Then stop and tune into tasting your food. Just for a few bites.
- When was the last time you just ate…and did not check your email or go on Social Media and savor what you were eating?
- Stop and smell the coffee…literally…take a moment enjoy the smell of fresh coffee before you drink it. Don’t just drink the coffee…” drink that moment” too!
- Don’t automatically answer your phone when it rings…. take a few breaths during each ring…you know nothing bad will happen if your phone rings 3-4 times before you answer…and you will have gained a few mindful moments in your day.
So, what have you got to lose…take a few moments, breathe… feel and be in the moment.
Do it to help your kids.
But really do it to help yourself.
Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.
~ Sharon Salzberg
About the Author
Hazel K. Brief MSW, PCC is a Clinical Social Worker and ADHD Coach in her private practice and is also an Edge ADHD Coach. She coaches teens, adults and parents using Mindful Meditation practices. She is a Therapist at a Community Mental Health Center focusing on the kids and adolescents with ADHD. Hazel can be reached at the Edge Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org; https://www.edgefoundation.org; or Hazel.Brief@gmail.com; http://www.mindful-adhd-coaching.com. Facebook: Channeling The Energy: Coaching Families with ADHD.