One of my clients was just diagnosed with ADD.
Feel like you can’t focus, you are easily distracted? Maybe you have ADD…. or maybe you are suffering from burnout.
One of my clients was just “diagnosed” with ADD. I say diagnosed, her doctor prescribed Ritalin because she has been battling to stay focused and finds her mind wandering and she feels like she can’t get anything done.
Unfortunately, because she doesn’t have ADD and shouldn’t be on Ritalin, her number of anxiety attacks has increased and so has the intensity.
Your body functions in the sympathetic nervous system when you are suffering from burnout.
When you are suffering from burnout, your body is functioning in the sympathetic nervous system i.e. flight or fight mode. When your body is functioning here, your blood gets shifted from your “digest and heal”, or thrive, bodily functions to your survive bodily functions. What this means is that your body redirects blood away from your brain and digestive system to your heart, lungs and major muscle groups so that you are ready to fight the threat or to run away from it.
You don’t need your brain to function optimally when you are running away from a man-eating lion and you especially don’t need your pre-frontal cortex (which controls our high-level thinking) to be functioning optimally.
When you are suffering from burnout and you have been in survival mode for a long period of time, your brain isn’t functioning optimally because of this so it will be no wonder that you can’t concentrate because your body is not deeming that function critical to survival.
You can see how this becomes a vicious cycle.
After asking a few questions, I discovered that this client didn’t have a problem at school when studying or even in her previous job with concentrating which was a pretty good clue that she didn’t in fact have ADD. And her ability to concentrate is because she is suffering from burnout and has been functioning from this place for the last few months.
So, I recommended that she stop taking the Ritalin, with her doctor’s guidance, and then start doing some practices which bring her out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Shifting your body from sympathetic to parasympathetic
The first was practicing mindful breathing. It has been reported that you can shift your body into the parasympathetic nervous system simply by making your exhale longer than your inhale. I suggested she try mindful breathing a few times a day or when she starts to feel anxious or panicky. You only need to practice this for 3 to 5 minutes at a time. You start by inhaling for the count of 4 and exhaling for the count of 5, then 6, then 7, then 8. Just gauging how you feel as you increase the length of the breath.
The second is to use biurnal beats while you work to help you focus. Use headphones if you can and play them in the background while you work. You will be amazed at how focused and productive you can be. You can find loads on YouTube.
The third will be us working together to identify why she is suffering from burnout and to build some new habits with new tools to ensure that she thrives and only functions in survival mode when she absolutely needs to.