Tag Archive for: Exercise

Resetting with Neurodiversity - Reset button

Resetting with neurodiversity

Have you ever experienced one of those days when everything seems to go wrong, and all your well-laid plans and good intentions fall apart? It can be incredibly frustrating and challenging, leaving you feeling utterly overwhelmed. That’s why I find it crucial to have a strategy in place to get back on track during these moments. I refer to this process as “resetting with neurodiversity” and it holds particular significance when dealing with a neurodivergent trait such as ADHD.

My need for resetting varies throughout the day, depending on my fluctuating energy levels. Designing a flexible plan that can adapt to your current state is crucial. Here are several methods I use to reset and realign myself to get my day back on track:

Resetting with Neurodiversity often involves taking a break:

In most instances, when you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to make progress, the best course of action is to take a break. Taking a break entails stepping away from your current task and engaging in a different activity. It’s essential to have a plan in place during this break to avoid potentially engaging in self-destructive behaviours.

So what to do after you’ve taken a break?

Controlled breathing: I know it’s a bit faddy, and yes, I know we’ve all heard about it, but the reality is, if we focus on our breathing, it takes our mind off other thoughts. We don’t need to do it forever and don’t need to do some cool yoga pose at the same time, but just thinking about breathing and focusing on it is often enough to help our minds reset.

Prioritise:

When you are overwhelmed and when life seems to be weighing you down, it can be beneficial to prioritise the most crucial task at hand. By focusing your efforts on accomplishing one thing at a time, you create an opportunity to experience a sense of achievement. This, in turn, stimulates the release of endorphins, making you feel better and enabling you to select your next undertaking. Prioritising doesn’t require reassessing your entire to-do list; rather, it involves determining the next significant task and progressing accordingly.

Skipping:

I’m a big fan of skipping, it was my lockdown saviour, and it kept me focused, kept me fit and above all it gave me something to do when I was verging on doing all the things that aren’t good for me. I’ve kept this going and it’s part of my everyday life. I’ve found it particularly useful around resetting because it’s tough to think of other thoughts while skipping. It lets you clear your head and look forward to the future. I wouldn’t recommend doing too much to start with; two to three minutes is fine, but it can be enough to reset and work out what to do next.

Reach out:

I’ve discovered great value in reaching out and conversing with others, especially while working from home.

A SIMPLE CONVERSATION CAN PROPEL ME FORWARD whenever I encounter a challenge or feel stuck, offering fresh perspectives and guiding me towards the next steps. To make this approach effective, fostering meaningful relationships with individuals is crucial, enabling mutual support and an open line of communication. I also wonder whether this strategy resonates specifically with me as I’m an external processor. It’s essential to consider your processing style and identify the relationships that best assist you in navigating difficult situations.

Network:

One of the most powerful tools I’ve discovered for resetting is having access to a network of individuals willing to offer assistance when needed. It’s not about receiving continuous support, but rather having the right support available at the right time. This enables you to effectively reset your current situation and progress, potentially benefiting from expert advice. To illustrate, there was a time when I encountered significant difficulties with my accounts, which caused a lot of stress and hindered my progress. However, a brief conversation with someone knowledgeable and experienced in that field provided the necessary guidance to help me reset, determine my next steps, and move forward successfully.

Looking after yourself while resetting with neurodiversity:

While the concept of being kind to yourself may seem overused, it remains crucial and arguably the most essential aspect of showing up well in the workplace. This applies not only to individuals with neurodivergent traits but to everyone else too. By taking care of ourselves, we position our bodies to support our mental well-being at work effectively. Numerous studies have demonstrated that nurturing our physical health directly benefits our mental state. As a result, we experience greater satisfaction and clarity regarding our work and its purpose. Establishing healthy boundaries regarding when we start and stop work and how much we take on becomes possible. Moreover, prioritising self-care equips us with the reserves and resources necessary to go above and beyond when the situation demands it.

As you can see, resetting with neurodiversity can involve various elements. However, the key is to create a personalised plan and document it. Consider this blog the starting block of your resetting toolkit. Having a well-defined plan allows you to navigate challenges and perform at your full potential rather than feeling lost and struggling to find a way to reset.

If you’re interested in further exploring the topic of resetting and discovering more effective strategies, feel free to reach out. I’m available for a conversation to provide guidance and support.

Man Skipping on green background with black rope.

Skipping and neurodiversity

I love skipping…a lot. Skipping kept me going through lockdown and has continued to form a stimulating part of my life. I’ve noticed that it helps me and others that I’ve worked with manage their mood and energy levels effectively. My thoughts on skipping are purely based on my own experience and the people that I’ve worked with. I hear you ask why would a 50-year-old bloke enjoy jumping rope. Well, here are some of the reasons why skipping has formed part of my daily exercise habit:

  • It boosts my mood: it makes me feel bloody brilliant, as like many other forms of exercise it gets everything moving and as a result, I just feel better.
  • It challenges me: with skipping there are loads of different moves, you can do the double under, single under, hopping, bell, mic release, to mention just a few and all of these are doable, you just need to break them down and practice.
  • It gets my heart working: sometimes everyone’s heart needs a bit of an extra pump. I found it particularly helpful that skipping is aerobic, and I’ve noticed skipping improves how well I can breathe. There is a lot of evidence that shows skipping improves circulation and option delivery around the body…what’s not to like!
  • It burns calories: in a relatively short amount of time, I can burn a lot of calories, which for someone who spent a lot of time sitting at a desk job is brilliant.
  • It promotes brain function: skipping requires me to focus and to use my mental coordination to get my hands and feet in the right place.
  • It improves balance: I have noticed an improvement in my balance, which has aided me in gaining a better sense of limb placement within my surroundings. It’s fascinating to see how skipping has greatly benefited my daughter, who has been diagnosed with dyspraxia, by improving her coordination and building her strength, which she can now apply to other activities such as cycling.
  • It’s portable (it can be done anywhere): I love the fact that I can skip wherever I like within reason. I say within reason as I’ve not skipped on a train yet, but there may come a time when I do. I have skipped at a conference, in a hotel room, in a car park, in a normal park, on the road and outside a client’s office.

There are loads of resources on the internet, but I would recommend Coach Chris from The Jump Rope Company who’s put together 20 brilliant skipping variation exercises to try out over your first 20 days of skipping. Click here to watch the videos.

If you want to explore this as one of your strategies for managing your neurodivergent traits, such as to help calm a busy mind with repetitive moves, or reduce your restlessness and burn off extra energy, I can’t recommend it enough. As with everything you have to try it out to see if it works for you. All you need is your trainers and a skipping rope, anyone can do it, it doesn’t matter if you’re 55 or 105.

If you’ve taken the leap of faith and decided to embark on an adventure with your skipping rope, I’d be absolutely thrilled to hear all about it! Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your skipping adventures here.

RS200 Group B rally car in white with rally lights

Busy Brain and neurodiversity

My busy brain! (The crazy brain that never stops working and sometimes drives me up the wall!)

One of my favourite cars is the Ford RS200, based very loosely on the Ford Sierra. It is an insane Group B rally version of the Sierra, but I think the only things that were original Ford were the doors and possibly the bonnet. The engine in this car revs incredibly high, and its power-to-weight ratio means it has the type of acceleration you would typically see in a Formula One car. And this is how my brain feels sometimes, overpowered without enough traction to stay in a straight line. It looks like a standard car but nothing like an ordinary one under the bonnet.

Keeping my busy brain on the road

My brain often operates like an ideas machine, firing out many wonderful, interesting, far-out-there ways of thinking about a problem or situation.

It sometimes behaves in a way that feels like my mouth can’t keep up, nor can my memory, meaning that ideas are flowing, and I can’t always capture them. It’s incredibly frustrating. I find I get loads of ideas and get inspired, which can take me off on all sorts of tangents. This can be both useful and incredibly tricky to manage. I’m particularly aware that when I’m communicating with others, if my brain starts to rev up, I can lose them and, as a result, have frustrating communications.

Driving in the suitable environments

When I feel safe and listened to, I can operate far better than when I feel threatened or unsure about what is happening. Also, how well I’m operating for the rest of my life and how well I’ve been looking after myself make a massive difference in how my brain works. For example, this busy brain can go into busy catastrophising if I’m having a tough time! So rather like the RS200, I risk blowing it up if I don’t look after it properly.

Keeping things ticking over

Keeping fit and healthy has become essential to managing my mental health, particularly my brain activity. I’ve noticed that when I exercise regularly, my brain operates far more effectively. This means I don’t tend to get overstressed and can also compartmentalise life more effectively. It’s almost like I need to go and burn some fuel to help support a healthy outlook.

Garage time matters

Sleep is essential for all of us, but more important for some. I’ve noticed that my mind is a complete mess when I don’t get enough sleep. I find it difficult to concentrate, can become easily distracted and ultimately waste a lot of time, so having a good sleep pattern means that my busy brain tends to cope more effectively and think more concisely about what I’m doing.

Knowing when you’ve hit the red line with the busy brain

Overwhelm is a reality we all experience, but particularly for me, I’m not always conscious when it’s happening. It will sometimes creep up on me and debilitate me to the point where I’m no longer racing; I’m barely crawling and unable to think or move forwards effectively. Simply put, the best solution is to pause and take a significant break. This means typically putting on my running shoes, contacting a friend and going for a long run. Once I’ve done this, I can generally return and effectively continue moving forward.

Capturing the magic

As I mentioned, my brain often throws out many ideas rapidly, and my biggest frustration is that my short-term memory can’t hold on to many ideas. This means that I get very, very frustrated in missing ideas and rethinking them at a later stage. I then recognised that I already had the thought but had forgotten it. I use Evernote to help me manage this effectively, as it allows me to dictate ideas straight into my phone and file them away. There are many tools you can use, and this is only one of them, but I like Evernote for the following reasons:

  • It’s platform-independent – it doesn’t matter if I change my phone or use my computer; it works everywhere.
  • It allows me to dictate –I can get my ideas out of my head quickly and efficiently.
  • It’s organised – Evernote will enable me to collect and reorganise my notes rapidly, meaning I don’t lose ideas, and I can formulate them in the right place quickly.
  • I can add images – I often think in pictures and get inspired by things I see, so photographing objects or situations and organising them with my thoughts enables me to capture this effectively.

When I am most busy

I find my brain working most effectively in the morning, in the shower, when I’m out on a run or exercising. I’ve noticed that to get the most out of what I’m doing; I need to remove all other distractions and be somewhere different.

How do I get my brain to tick over

Quietening my brain down can be tricky. As I’ve mentioned, exercise can be helpful, but sometimes not even that does the job. Verbalising my thoughts is effective, as when they are stuck in my head, they often whirl around continuously. I do not understand their importance or priority so I can be completely overwhelmed by something unimportant. I also find it helpful to have a structured routine to go to sleep and have time to wind down.

My wind-down routine looks like the following:

  • Screens off (no screens in the bedroom).
  • Get a drink of water.
  • Shower and go to the toilet.
  • Practice crow pose, crane pose, double arm lever and squat (I can give more details on this if you’re interested).
  • Turn the lights down.
  • Make sure the blackout blind is down.
  • Get into bed.
  • Read for 15 minutes.
  • Lights off.

If you would like to discuss managing your busy brain and some of the challenges and ideas I’ve written in this blog, please get in contact.

Warning: These processes have worked for me, and that doesn’t mean they will work for you. It would be best if you approached how you manage your neurodiverse traits like a project. You must try ideas out, keep the solutions that work and get rid of the ideas that don’t. There’s no harm in testing, but don’t throw away a process until you have something better to replace it with.

 

Doing a Handstand - Praxis and Neurodiversity

Why praxis and neurodiversity is essential?

Handstand, crow, double-arm lever, bear, monkey, frogger and crab are just a few of the terms I found out about during lockdown. These are all bodyweight exercises you can perform in your own home or anywhere else you fancy without any equipment. Many of them look easy when you see someone who has practiced them, but often, especially when you first try and undertake them, they prove frustrating and challenging. So what’s that got to do with praxis and neurodiversity?

Praxis – means practice as distinguished from theory!

Praxis and neurodiversity – the why!

Being effective at work is about mastering our strengths and managing things we find difficult. To do this well, we need to practice in a structured way that allows us to perform at our very best. The model that I was fortunate enough to use to learn some of the skills mentioned in the first paragraph works just as well with workplace strategies.

It looks a bit like this:

Prepare

Get yourself in the right place to do the work you need to do. I’m a great believer that we are whole people and that means that we need to put our bodies and our minds in the right place to learn. This could be something as simple as making sure we have downloaded everything we shouldn’t be thinking about. as well as making sure we are not stiff or in an uncomfortable position to start the learning process.

Practice

Amplifying strengths and managing the things that we find difficult is about practice. That practice needs to happen in a safe place where we can experiment with different ways of doing things and build processes that work. What is important here is to practice things that are difficult for us and work out what’s good and what needs to be changed. This is helpful as it allows us to work out where we need to focus.

Push

Once we start to become good at a task, then it is time to push it to see how far we can take it, for example, this might be around planning, using a new tool to write, or about being more confident in a different situation. The key is about finding the limits of what is possible for you because quite often this will go way beyond what you expect.

Play

The serious work now begins. It is time to play with the skills that we’re developing and see where else we can take them and use them, for example, we might be great at planning at home but unable to do this effectively in the workplace.

Ponder

Most importantly (and often the most underrated) for any learning is to reflect on what happened, what worked well and what we would like to work more on next time. This is where we start to set goals for what we are going to do next and how we can push ideas to the next level by reusing the model above.

If you’d like to find out more about how to amplify strengths and manage difficulties in the workplace, please get in contact.

Never forget any progress is progress, any movement forward is movement and that’s why praxis and neurodiversity matter.

So that’s what praxis and neurodiversity is all about!

Get in contact to find out more. Contact me here.

 

Method credit GMB Fitness, possibly the greatest fitness organisation on earth. Take a look

running

Does it take a Village – to run well?

Running my first 10 kilometre (km) race, this story starts five years ago when a few friends and I decided that we wanted to row (we were the most ragtag bunch of rowers you can imagine). At the time I was out of shape but wanted to be a better version of myself for me and my children. So, a friend of mine called Dave and I (with a couple of others), set up something called Monday Club which as you properly guess happens every Monday. It is an opportunity for some 40+ year old men and women to work out and play at being boxers and gymnasts. This club inspired me to do more with myself and through conversations with my friends, I decided I was going to give running a go (I wanted to run well).

Running begins

Four years later I am starting to run regularly with a bunch of people from Monday Club who inspired and helped me to move forward when it was suggested, I should have a go at running a race.

Time to race

When the race came around, I was expecting to be looking at my watch working out my timings and trying not to run, way too fast. Adding at this point that my nickname is the ‘beast’ as I do everything at full throttle, not holding anything back and burning out much of the time. Come race day I expected to turn up on my own and run the race for which I had practised.

We are off

The race begins in a flurry of activity and the guy I am chasing down the road starts encouraging me to run with him and this is where the support begins. Turning the first corner my friend Simon is there rooting for me telling me to take it easy and run at the pace I have planned. Running a further 500 meters up the road and my friend Dave is there telling me not to overcook it and keep to my pace, pull my shoulders back, breathe and enjoy it. As I continue to run the race these two guys keep popping up, rooting for me, pushing me and encouraging me to be the best I can be.

The final 2 km

Things are starting to hurt now, and my shoulders are all hunched. Then my friend Dave appears and starts to run with me. At first, this is about me getting my confidence and form back then I notice myself accelerating. Moving from someone slipping backwards to someone who is overtaking people and running faster and faster.

Finishing strong

Coming into the final 700 meters I was a transformed person running with determination and gusto. Finishing the race in 41 minutes 26 seconds, 1 minute 26 seconds outside of the goal I set myself, but that did not matter, I had learned how to run a race well and that is a lesson I will not forget.

My first 10k race was not run on my own, I ran it with people who believed in me and enabled me to do my absolute best, inspiring me to do it again.

What I learnt

Sometimes things take longer than you first expect.

When I started this journey, I wanted to row a boat and I ended up running a race. That does not mean that I will not row a boat one day too. What I did instead was achieve something else that takes me closer to that goal.

Sometimes what you want takes time to work out

This is true in many aspects of our lives. What is important is to keep moving forwards. It is vital to have champions and cheerleaders on your team to keep encouraging you to seek out what you want. In my case, it is about being a better version of myself, for you it may be quite different, but I would encourage you to keep on looking for it.

Practice is the key to everything – you will need to do it a lot so make sure it is fun!

As with everything worth doing there is always a lot of practice involved. The biggest transition for me has been the movement from only enjoying the end goal to enjoying the practice. This is so relevant to the roles we do and the things we want to achieve. If we do not enjoy the day-to-day stuff to get us to a goal I do not believe will be anywhere near as fulfilled as we should be.

The best coaches will come and run along with you

Sometimes we need help, sometimes we need advice and sometimes we need people to run along with us. Both in the sense of doing things as well as carrying the same dreams and passions as we do. It lifts our heads and gives us the capability to be genuinely great.

Doing things with a village is the best

Reflecting on this experience, the image of the village of people supporting one another to achieve their goals is an incredibly attractive one. Where one achieves much, everyone achieves much, and this is a principle that can help move forward some of the key aims we have in our lives.

Who is in your village?

If you would like some help to explore this further, please get in contact.