I recently presented at CADDAC’s online conference how ADHD was key to my success as an entrepreneur and how my undiagnosed ADHD sabotaged success. There were many unanswered questions, and I would like to answer one right now! The unanswered question was, "What is your coping mechanism for restlessness brackets (mind and body)?”
It is still difficult for me, even though I am aware that it is physically and neurologically impossible to relax. In the past, my coping mechanism for restlessness was always constantly on the go, go, go, go, run, run, go, go.
For example, I wake up at 5 am, drive two hours to a construction site, then go to two, three or four other site meetings the same day. Then I would drive back to the office to catch up on emails, reports, update the team and review work. Then go home for dinner (late, of course), and put the kids to bed. After the kids are in bed, I would pull out the laptop and work late until bedtime. Then I would start a similar cycle again the next morning. That was 18 years. It was exhausting just to write about it.
WHY SUCH A TIGHT SCHEDULE?
By maintaining too tight of a schedule, everything became urgent! Rush to site, rush to each tightly scheduled meeting, get to the office late, and rush emails, reviews, etc. My brain was on fire, and I was pulling off magnificent feats of work completion. But this came at a cost.
COST OF SELF-IMPOSED URGENCY
I didn't allow enough travel time between meetings, and I had many close calls on the road and upset clients for being late many times. I spent too much time out of the office, and working on projects was delayed until the deadline was too close, and then I would burn the midnight candle at both ends to get it done. All things accumulated into constant fatigue and aggravated my emotional dysregulation, and it strained many relationships at work with staff, clients, and worse, with my wife and girls.
SEARCH FOR CALM
Now, I search for calm. I realized this one day on a personal retreat at the top of a mountain in Quebec early one fall morning. I wrote about it on my blog called “Searching For The Wrong Thing.” In short, I stopped trying to find ways to relax. I now find ways to be calm. Calm has helped me with coping with restlessness.
MY DAYS ARE SCHEDULED FOR CALM
My day is now structured to no longer be rushed, and I plan not to work at home in the evenings. Calm for me includes changing out of my work clothes into my "comfy clothes" as it helps me shed off work-related stress or anxiety. A mental shift to say I am at home and it is now safe. Calm includes sitting and catching up with my family at dinner. Calm includes reading after dinner.
My most crucial calm technique has been mindfulness-guided meditation every night before bed. I am currently at 500 straight days as it calms my mind so I can fall asleep quicker. It was not easy sticking to the routine at first, but after many attempts, I got this streak. Mindfulness meditation has also helped me be more mindful during the day. The biggest win has been the reduction of my emotional dysregulation at work and home. My meditation "sessions" range from three to 20 minutes. It is now part of my bedtime routine.
HOW I COPE AT WORK
At the office, I do more creative work that uses up my restless mental energy. I move around more at the office and talk to the staff about their projects. I have become a mobile project problem solver, a perfect role for me. I have shed a great many tasks that I don't enjoy, and I no longer do. I purchased a stand-up desk that can go up and down when I want to.
YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME – TRY IT
It is still unbelievable how finding calm has been an excellent way to cope with my physical and mental (primarily mental) restlessness. Sounds counterintuitive? But to me, it is the truth! It took almost a year for me to SEE this realization after committing myself to work on finding calm. I had to accept the results will take time to surface and to be patient. Besides my marriage, this has been the most important commitment that I made for myself.
André Brisson has a personal blog at andreb.ca and a professional blog at tacticalbts.com.