School, Grades, and ADHD
By Barbara McRae, MCC
All students, sooner or later, run into trouble keeping up with their classes and get stressed, as they get further behind. This downward spiral can happen to the best students, but even more so for those with ADHD.
In trouble-shooting with college students, who feel that they’re drowning in class, I’ve discovered that the source of their problems can be traced to basic biology. Best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman said it well, “What you do to your body has a profound effect on your brain.”
Have you noticed how energized you feel and how clear your mind gets after exercising? Conversely, does your mind get fuzzy, keeping you from making good decisions, when you’re anxious or stressed?
To make sure your brain functions at full capacity – alert, focused, and calm – you can help yourself cultivate an UltraMind (coined by Dr. Hyman) through regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and brain-food.
Here’s what you can do to activate your brain:
1. Set your alarm 10-20 minutes early. This will give your brain time to wake up. Use this time to exercise, mentally walk-through your day (imagine it going well), and/or take ADD meds, as applicable.
2. Eat a brain-sustaining breakfast. Stay away from sugary food (pop-tarts, donuts, and
cereal). Instead include plenty of protein to fuel the brain and keep blood sugar up (nuts: peanut or almond butters; dairy: eggs or cheese).
3. Get to bed and sleep soundly. To wake-up refreshed with a refueled brain, calm a churning or creative mind; stay away from any stimulating activity before bed. Program your body for sleep by going to bed at the same time every night. Relax: meditate, take a hot bath or read a boring book.
With sleep deprivation, we all experience diminished concentration and productivity. Some experts believe that the ADHD brain requires even more sleep. Research claims that 40% of adults and teens with ADHD regularly have trouble sleeping.
Something else to consider is that engaging in sports (assuming there’s interest and talent) can positively impact scholastic performance. Built into most competitive sports is a structure for eating, training, studying, and sleeping. Such consistency of focus develops strong habits and builds confidence.
Given that there are more ADHD college students that drop out of school, it’s important to get the support you need to stay focused and engaged. Typically, individuals flounder when they’re unsure of their direction. More than anything else, you need to know your strengths to build on those, and know your purpose, the big picture. Let it pull you forward, naturally.
The truth is that most people know they were made for more and that they could do more if they weren’t feeling trapped in their current situation by focusing on their limitations.
All it takes is a choice – your choice – to give yourself a chance to think deeply about what you want and be willing to get objective and skilled guidance to make it your reality. It’s doable when you take it one step at a time.
~ Barbara McRae, MCC
20-Somethings ADHD Expert, Campus Calm™
(c) Barbara McRae