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Operation Self-Advocacy

This summer, without the pressure of school and grades, my daughter is starting to slowly, surely take charge of her treatment plan. Because, though I can scarcely believe it, college is right around the corner.

Soft lit candles make for a soothing setting for ADHD kids.

Some days are better than others — and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why. My daughter Devin has ADHD with a dash of anxiety sprinkled on top, and that combination can be unpredictable. And don’t even get me started on hormones. But, still, college is just a few years away so we’re thinking more and more about how to achieve some stability and how to teach Devin how to advocate for herself.

Trying to Manage Without Meds

Anxiety is something Devin faces every day, in varying degrees. While continuing to take her ADHD medication, Devin began by researching natural ways to alleviate her anxiety.

Essential oils (EO) are a natural solution she found that she can adjust based on her symptoms at that moment. Among the many oils that help manage anxiety are Rose, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang. By trial and error – along with a healthy bit of research – we found that the following oils are Devin’s ticket to a calmer, more relaxing day:

> Lavender Oil: Provides a relaxing and calming effect; it’s thought to help with sleep, restlessness, panic attacks, and general nervous tension.

> Chamomile Oil: A calming scent that’s believed to decrease irritability, anxiety, and worry. Numerous studies support its anti-anxiety use. Just be careful; if you’re allergic to ragweed, you might also be allergic to chamomile.

> Frankincense Oil: This oil can help quiet the mind, which makes it a perfect complement to the meditation class Devin began taking at a local yoga center. Learning to find a peaceful and tranquil energy has grounded Devin and given her the strength to ward off anxiety when it threatens to rear its ugly head.

The scent of essential oils stimulates the limbic system of the brain – the part that regulates stress – as they are inhaled. Devin bought a diffuser so she can breathe them throughout the day at home. An unexpected bonus is that her formerly anxious dog is much calmer from the vapors, too.

When she is out and about, Devin will also mix up a travel container of coconut oil with a few drops of essential oil to carry in her purse. EOs are so potent alone, they need a carrier oil, like coconut or almond, to mellow their effect. Then, when she feels stressed, she can rub the concoction on the inside of her wrists.

After a particularly anxiety-ridden day, Devin will draw a hot bath and add baking soda, Epson salt, and lavender oil. It helps relax away her stress, and makes it easier to sleep at night.

I’m proud of my daughter for being proactive and finding an alternative method to manage her anxiety. She did her homework and learned which oils work and how to use them. She’s mature enough to know what works for her and what doesn’t. When she heads off to college, she’ll be able to take some of these techniques with her, advocate for her own needs without my helping hand and find new ways to keep her symptoms in check. She’s all grown up!