Problem Solving to Relieve Stress with ADD
I might see letters from folks getting upset about me encouraging people to be "quitters." I don't mean that you should walk away, or run away, from every difficult situation. That is not what I am advocating at all. Then again, some situations are a bad fit, so stressful, or terribly toxic, that the best thing to do is to get away from those circumstances and get on with the rest of your life. A problem solving decision-chart can help you make a logical and informed decision about how to relieve stress.
When you have Attention Deficit Disorder and you are trying to juggle too many demanding activities at once, it is time to reassess that state of affairs. You could construct a decision making chart.
*State the situation as clearly as possible.
~I am working, going to school, and need to give a lot of time helping my family members. I am feeling stressed out to the point where I am ready to have a mental breakdown and come completely unglued.
*What options do you have? You need to find at least 5 options. This forces you to use that ADD creativity!
~I can quit my job.
~I can find a less stressful job.
~I can work fewer hours or hours at a different time.
~I can drop some classes.
~I can drop all of my classes and quit school.
~I can drop all of my classes and come back next semester.
~I can stop helping my family members.
~I can schedule the time that I spend helping family members.
*Think of at least 2-5 consequences for every option that you identified. Some consequences might be the same for several options. That is okay! Please remember that consequences can be both positive and negative. You do not have to write in complete sentences.
~Quit my job. (No money. No insurance. Loss of job friends. Not able to pay bills. More time for school.)
~Find a less stressful job. (Stress in leaving present job. Job hunting is stressful. Makes life easier.)
~Work fewer hours or hours at a different time. (Family obligations for paycheck. Employer won't change hours. Hard to pay bills. More time for school. More time for family.)
~I can drop some classes. (Still in school. Fewer classes=less stress. Retake dropped classes. Might drop below full time and affect school finances. More time for family.)
~I can drop all of my classes and quit school. (No assignment stress. Worried about getting ahead. Drop below full time and affect school finances-repay loans sooner. More time for family.)
~I can drop all of my classes and come back next semester. (Have to redo all classes after I go back. No assignment stress. Stress to reapply. Maybe no financial aid.)
~I can stop helping my family members. (More stress on family. People will be furious at me. Have more time for classes. Less rushing around.)
~I can schedule the time that I spend helping family members. (More stress on family. People might be somewhat mad at me. Have more time for classes. Less rushing around. Still helping family. More time for school.)
*Using the information that you generated, find a solution and write it down. Be specific.
In order to relieve my stress right now, I will drop one of my classes and take it next fall. I will drop the one where I have the most difficulty getting assignments turned in or the one with the least chance of success. I will write down my work schedule and school schedule. I will use that schedule to coordinate times that I can help my family with their needs. I will allow time each day for something that I enjoy, even if it is only a little bit of time, just for me. (As you can see, some of this was not on my chart, but my chart allowed me to focus on problems that might cause stress, so I also made those a part of the solution statement.)
Does it look like this process takes a lot of time? You have that right! It can take hours! The good news is that you do not have to do it all at one sitting. You can do it throughout a day or even over several days. Even though you might stop and start it several times, don't forget to finish it. Make a note that you put in your safe place for notes; for me, that is on my hand. "Finish decision chart-relieve stress!" I find that reminders, carefully placed, can weaken the negative symptom of inattentiveness from Attention Deficit Disorder. Any positive step that I can take to relieve the negative symptoms of ADD is a win! Being proactive with those pesky negative symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder can lower stress. When it comes to life's activities that are causing stress, know when to stay and when to walk away.
I learned this strategy when I was in graduate school in classes that I took from my adviser, Brenda Smith Myles, who has done a lot of research in the field of autism. Brenda had a lot of solutions for times when life took a turn for the tough. I've always been grateful that she taught us this strategy. It has been helpful more than once.
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