Looking to have a happier year in 2015? Why not pick one of these eight resolutions that can help couples impacted by ADHD turn their lives in a happier, healthier direction this year?
Resolution #1: Exercise at least 4 days a week.
Committing to exercise is a common New Year’s resolution, whether or not you have ADHD in your relationship, but it’s particularly good for ADHD-impacted couples. ADHD adults who exercise find they have better focus, are less depressed, less anxious and often more emotionally stable. The same holds true for their non-ADHD partners. If you are not exercising at least 4 hours a week you are missing out on a great opportunity to be happier, healthier and better prepared mentally for whatever might come your way in your relationship. Couples can exercise together on regular ‘exercise dates’, making it even more rewarding.
Resolution #2: Learn to ‘let it go.’
You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility that falls on your shoulders, or by negative comments in the relationship. Why not resolve for 2015 to commit to letting some of that pressure go? My own experience is that at first you may be tempted to say “it’s all important” or “I have to express those feelings!” but it turns out that this is not the case. It’s incredibly helpful for your relationship if you let some of the irritants ‘pass you by’ rather than ‘stick’ to you like a burr. Good ways to help yourself learn to let things go are to journal about your issues, or learn to meditate in a tradition about letting thoughts pass you by without judgment. One good resource for this, if you have never tried meditation before is the book (and its free downloadable meditation sessions) Meditation for Absolutely Everyone by Subagh Singh Khalsa. It can also help to create a reminder note you will run into frequently to keep you focused on this resolution.
Resolution #3: Teach yourself self-intimacy.
Self-intimacy is the foundation of better communication between you and your partner. It is the ability to identify all of your feelings, not just the ones at the surface, then express them in a constructive way. So instead of saying “I’m angry!” you might learn to get in touch with what is underneath that anger and say “I’m angry, but really what I am is feeling hurt and left out.” To improve self-intimacy, start by setting three times a day to reflect on how you are feeling at that moment, searching as deeply as you can. Setting a reminder alarm will help you remember to do this. (Hint: You may think that you are good at this, but I have been humbled by how challenging it can be to identify your own deeper feelings rather than focus on telling your partner what he or she should be doing better! So, even the most ‘in touch’ partners can use work in this area.)
Resolution #4: Schedule ‘attend time’ at least once a week.
When couples struggle it’s too easy to get all caught up in the ‘work’ and forget about both creating time for fun and (more importantly) time to attend to each other in a loving way. When ADHD is in the picture it’s common that ‘attend time’ needs to be scheduled. You might, for example, resolve to set aside 3 hours every Sunday afternoon to do drop all of your other responsibilities and just do something fun together. Or you might resolve to spend 20 minutes in the evening at bedtime to cuddle or talk about upbeat (NOT negative!) topics.
Resolution #5: Get into a sleep groove.
Speaking of bedtime, many ADHD partners struggle with creating a regular sleep time, or struggle with getting high quality sleep at all. If you are one of these people, a great 2015 resolution would be committing to improving your sleep routine. That might mean seeing a sleep specialist if you think you are one of the many people with ADHD who have sleep apnea or other diagnosable sleep issues. Or, it might mean better sleep hygiene – no computers after about 8:30 pm (or using f.lux if you must be on the computer); setting an alarm (or three) to remind you to disengage from whatever you are doing with plenty of time to prepare for bed; perhaps finding calming music to listen to before you sleep. Drinking less alcohol can also help dramatically, as the digestion of alcohol first puts you to sleep, then wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Resolution #6: Create a shared household chores and tasks system.
To get away from one partner being in charge (common in ADHD-impacted couples!) set a specific time to review tasks for a week, including setting priorities. (When you both agree to the importance of a task it is more likely to get done. The other option – having one partner set priorities doesn’t work as well!) For each task outline exactly what needs to get done, what the timeframe is, what the steps are, and who will do it. A week later you can determine the success of your efforts and adjust your planning for the next week accordingly.
Resolution #7: Smile. A lot.
If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that even in the most dire times there are usually things about which you can smile. Why not resolve to seek those things out? To find the elements of your life for which you can be grateful and happy, and then share that happiness with a smile? Your life may careen from one thing to the next…but even that energy (and your adaptability) can be worth smiling about.
Resolution #8: Get evaluated for ADHD, or optimize your ADHD treatment.
If you are not yet evaluated for ADHD, or if you are only taking medication to treat it, there is a whole lot more you could do to optimize the management of your symptoms. Take this as good news! The more you are the boss of your ADHD, the more you can live 2015 the way you choose! See my free online treatment guide for more information, and make sure to download the two free chapters from The Couple’s Guide to Thriving with ADHD, as they will provide you with the latest on the full treatment of adult ADHD.
So there you have it! Eight Ideas for a better 2015! Pick one that appeals to you and you are on your way to a healthier and happier new year. And please stay in touch at this site, and with me, in 2015...Happy New Year!