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Forget Meditation: Simplifying My Life Is the Best Way of Reducing ADHD Stress

My family and home are my number one priorities now, so I have eradicated every other obligation that isn’t necessary from my life.

I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front, because I am undergoing a bit of a personal revolution. I guess that’s a slightly dramatic statement, but periods of personal growth are significant and necessary. Part of this process of personal growth has been making my life smaller. Much smaller.

I decided that taking care of my home, my household, and my family is my number one priority. In support of that goal, I have eradicated every obligation that isn’t necessary, from my life. Currently, the only obligation that I have retained outside of my home is my “day job.” I need my job to pay my bills, so it’s not negotiable. I even sold my event production business and curtailed work on my clothing design business. I thought that I would hate this, but I’ve noticed that having fewer obligations means that I also have less stress. I realize that this relationship should be logical, but for me, it wasn’t obvious. My ADHD mind doesn’t always make the obvious connections immediately.

I’ve always needed the charge of being busy. In some ways, I think it was a form of self-medication. However, now that I have had a treatment plan in place for several years, including medication and regular visits with my therapist, I seem to need less excitement to keep me feeling alive and focused.

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With a clear schedule, I began envisioning my life and my home in a new way. To start, I calculated the amount of hours needed to maintain my home in good working order and to keep clutter at bay. For my home, that’s about 25 hours/week. I can’t afford a housekeeper, so that’s a part-time job’s worth of time that either me or someone else living in my household needs to spend on things like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, de-cluttering common areas, taking care of pets, and other household tasks, like my husband’s outdoor work. I also threw in a little time each week for “surprises” that every homeowner knows arise.

Calculating this was an eye-opening moment for me. It wasn’t as horrifying for me as it might be for people who hate cleaning more than I do, but it was still a stunning number. It gave me important information. One valuable nugget: I realized I wouldn’t be able to do this alone. I needed to engage my family in this process of caring for the house each week. My husband and kids were already participating in these activities, but none of us were doing it on a schedule.

Hence: I made a schedule. But I’ll come back to that, in another post. Stay tuned.

For now, I’d like to dwell on how weird this process has been for me. I’ve always known how to do household tasks, individually. But I have never organized a system for home maintenance. I never had to look at it this way before. It’s pretty cool, actually, to realize that there are ways to de-clutter and simplify every corner of my home, if I’m willing to make it a priority and put in the time.

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I had gotten so tired of my life feeling out of control all the time. I want my home to feel organized, clean, welcoming. I want to be able to invite friends over without having to spend five hours cleaning first.

But cleaning is just the tip of this iceberg. Once I started organizing my home, I realized that many other aspects of my life needed to be organized. I will be blogging about them. But at the moment, I need to go home and cook dinner.

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  1. Well you are singing my song girl!

    For me, however, the epiphany didn’t come until I went on medication (which for my personal ADD scenario is a vital part of treatment). Once the medication calmed me down, my thinking changed and I realized that I was using busyness and stress to self medicate and keep my mind in an active state (just like you said!). I needed a million things going on at all times in order to keep me from being bored. My stomach finally gave out last year with bleeding and pain, and I was referred to counselling for stress. With help from my therapist, doctor, and I believe God as well, I was blessed to finally realize that I should probably try medication treatment for ADD – even though I have felt that I was functioning just fine and didn’t seem to have any difficulty dealing with people, situations, or order.

    The difference was MIRACULOUS! I could finally “slow down” and see my life in a clear focus. I completely agree that I am downsizing my activities. I don’t need to live life at a breakneck pace anymore. I want to model a better pattern for my kids than that. I want to actually have time to play a board game with my little boys, or go hang out with my daughters for an afternoon doing what matters to them. Soon they’ll be gone and I don’t want them to remember the mom who was always busy doing amazing things that never really had any time to spend with them. That was who I was until the ADD medication treatment began.

    The stomach trouble is settling down since the stress has been leaving my daily life. I am able to take life at a more normal pace and not feel like I need more stimulation or exciting things to be doing. I have a great life – a normal one! I can finally appreciate it. I like the changes that are happening in our home. I’ve been able to be more tidy, been a more patient parent, been able to read stories to my kids without wanting to hurry through the process, I’ve played board games – and enjoyed them!, we’ve had great conversations about things that my kids and husband want to discuss, I am not as edgy, I can relax without needing to fidget or putter, and I find that my mind is calm and able to think about the truly important things each day.

    Simplify is a great concept. I know that some can manage their personal ADD challenges with just awareness, lists, timers, exercise, diet, and those sorts of things alone, but if you are like me and you were already doing all of those things and still had ADD challenges (like living in hyper-drive) and needed help, then the medication may be necessary as well in order to even just SEE that there is another, more calm, more effective way to live life.

    Thanks for your awesome article here. I really appreciated the validation for my own experiences lately.

    I am incredibly grateful to ADDitude and the people who post, comment, and work to help with ADD issues for all that I’ve learned from the past year and a half that I’ve been part of this community.

    Karen

  2. I would love for you to share your methods for decluttering that worked for you. Every time I try to declutter or clean out things I no longer need hanging around my house, the clutter seems to return later. :/

  3. Katy,
    I’d be interested in hearing your process for this too (figuring out what needed to be done around the house and the amount of time it would take). Even if everything is not the same for me, it will help me start the ball rolling. I’ve tried to do this on my own but feel like I keep falling down or have to keep going back to the drawing board just when I think I’ve gotten it.
    I’ve struggled with finding the right treatment. I’ve tried the typically recommended medications but they seem to increase my anxiety or agitation instead of helping me focus. I’ve tried the recommended supplements, which I think have helped some but not to the degree I’d hoped. I exercise every day and try to eat well (low sugar, good proteins) but feel like I’m still struggling to keep my mind on track.
    Thanks!

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