Episode 12. Managing your ADHD without medication

There is no cure or prevention for ADHD. There’s also no one right way to treat it. For many people with ADHD, medication can help manage symptoms. But it isn’t the only answer.

Journalist and mental health advocate Lindsay Guentzel dives into the topic with Dr. Gregory Harms, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in diagnosing ADHD both with ADHD Online and through his private practice in Chicago. 

In this episode, they discuss how therapy, coaching, mindfulness and meditation, technology, physical exercise and movement can be used to effectively treat ADHD and the symptoms often presented with the disorder. 

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Lindsay Guentzel (00:00:01):

This is episode 12 of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:00:25):

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can’t be cured or prevented. Sounds kind of heavy when you say it like that, doesn’t it? All we can do is arm ourselves with as many tools and resources as possible to help us deal with the symptoms as effectively as possible. And as we know, everyone’s ADHD is different, which means everyone’s symptoms are different and it also means that the strength or effect of those symptoms is going to be different. And the unfortunate part is the effect of those symptoms can change. We have to constantly be watching out and looking for new methods to help us cope. And for many of us with ADHD, adding another thing to our to-do list can be incredibly overwhelming. It’s important to note, ADHD can be treated effectively without using medication. And it’s also important to note that even if you take medication for ADHD, that alone might not be enough. It’s a great base, but it can also require some added layers of support.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:01:27):

My name is Lindsay Guentzel, I’m your host and also your friend with ADHD. And in this episode, we’ll dive into how you can maximize your ADHD treatment with Dr. Gregory Harms. Dr. Harms has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years. And in addition to being a licensed clinical psychologist, Gregory is also a certified alcohol and drug counselor. He’s trained in multiple medical settings and currently works as a health psychologist with local healthcare facilities, as well as running his own private practice in Chicago. Throughout his career, he’s worked with people of all ages and he specializes in working with clients whose functioning has been impacted by neurocognitive and physical health conditions.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:02:09):

In this episode, we’ll also catch up with Keith Boswell, the vice president of marketing for ADHD Online, the telemedicine healthcare company that this podcast is produced in partnership with. If you listened to the last episode, you heard Boz mentioned he had just started taking stimulant medications to manage the symptoms of his ADHD. Well, we will get an update on how it’s been going and also have a chat about some of the non-medication things that both Boz and I do in our own lives to help manage our ADHD symptoms. We’ll get to all of that and more on this episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:02:52):

If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing here on Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, help us share this podcast by subscribing wherever you’re listening now. And it would mean a lot to both me and the team at ADHD Online if you would leave a review or send us a note through email at [email protected] or through social media, @LindsayGuentzel or @refocusedpod.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:03:33):

Over the last few episodes of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, we’ve walked you through all the different types of treatments you can seek for ADHD that involve medication, whether it’s stimulant or non-stimulant. But now, I want to talk a little bit about all the options you have when it comes to treating your ADHD without medicine, and the list is substantial. And I’m super excited to bring in Dr. Gregory Harms. And it’s very exciting for me because it’s one of the first in person interviews I’ve done for this podcast. We’re actually in his office in Chicago. I don’t live in Chicago, I live in Minneapolis, but I was here and wanted to take advantage of getting to talk to somebody in person. So Dr. Harms, thank you so much for making time for me today.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:04:23):

Oh, you’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to be here.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:04:26):

When we talk about ADHD, where do you have your patients start when they are thinking about the treatment process?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:04:34):

I definitely do encourage them to at least talk with a psychiatrist or a prescriber to at least get the information on what options there are for medications, because we do know that that is a very supported, effective treatment for a lot of patients. And that way, if they talk to an expert in the medications, they at least have the information and then they can make their own decision about do they want to pursue that, do they want to pursue it in conjunction with something else, or do they think it’s not for them, and then we can look at some of the other options.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:05:03):

And the other options… I mean, the list is substantial and you’ve done amazing webinars on not just diagnosing ADHD and what clinicians are looking for, but you did a webinar on this. So you can go to adhdonline.com/webinars and revisit all of the amazing stuff that Dr. Harms has shared with the patients and with the family members. I mean, that’s the thing that I find so interesting about treating ADHD is you’re treating ADHD, but you really have to get everyone in your life on board.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:05:35):

Yes, it is very much a holistic process in terms of looking at treating it from many different angles and getting as much support as you can from anyone that’s around to just provide reminders, to people who can be a little bit patient with you to maybe show you how to set up an online calendar or how to use Siri, finding those coworkers that are willing to just give you a nudge like 10 minutes before a meeting that it’s time to wrap up what you’re doing and get in there, and really take advantage of all the people that care about you and want to see you succeed.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:06:10):

I want to dive into all of the things that you talked about, but you did mention finding people in your life who can help. And that requires opening up and being vulnerable, and not just sharing something so personal about yourself, but being comfortable, knowing that you are sharing this with people and they might have a reaction to that. So how do you walk your patients through opening up about their own ADHD diagnosis and being comfortable saying to the people in their lives, “This is what I need from you, are you willing to be there for that?”

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:06:46):

Yeah, it’s very much an individualized process, really for each person, because everyone comes from their own different background. They’ve had different experiences with their family or friends, or receive different messages about what it means just to seek help, what it means to be vulnerable, what it means to have a condition that needs to be treated. And so we really talk through who in their life is important to them, who is it that they really want to be their best for? And then start looking at who might they be able to partner with and really approach it as framing it as a partnership.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:07:21):

And even if they don’t necessarily want to disclose that they got this diagnosis of ADHD, they can at least say, “I’m sure you’ve noticed, you’ve known me long enough, I have some difficulty sometimes with being where I need to be on time or really paying attention to what’s right in front of me and it’s not going to hurt my feelings, it would really help me out if you can remind me if we’re supposed to be somewhere. Remind me a day ahead of time, ‘Hey, we’re going to go to this show, we are planning on going out to dinner tomorrow,’ and just give me a reminder and then that way I can be there and then we can enjoy the time together.” Or at work, just partnering with someone again, “You may notice that it’s hard for me to meet deadlines, I really admire the way that you can do it.” Maybe kind of butter the other person up a little bit, and then just ask, “Would you help me to remember some of these things, and then that way, I can be a good coworker for you and we can really accomplish something here.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:08:19):

I think one of the things that I found very interesting following my own diagnosis was how easy it was to find a therapist in my network who specializes in ADHD therapy. And I think I had this idea that it was so specialized. And obviously, with ADHD Online, there are a handful of states that they offer teletherapy in. Minnesota, for me, is not one of them yet, so I have a therapist that I see, sometimes, once a week. For the most part, I’m scheduled out once a week. We obviously… Life comes up, everyone has their stuff and so sometimes, it’s three weeks in a row and then a break, or six weeks in a row and then a break. But I have found going to therapy with someone who understands ADHD and can really be that accountability for me without attachment, I would love to be able to let my mother or my best friend or my boyfriend be that person for me, I’m just not there yet.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:09:22):

So having this person who can really show up for me in that accountability role has been monumental. If someone is considering therapy for ADHD as a part of their treatment plan, what are some of the things that they should consider when they’re looking for someone that fits their needs, when they’re trying to connect with someone? I think for a lot of people, and these are from conversations I’ve had with people in my life who don’t even have ADHD, sometimes, people are so afraid of trying out a therapist because what if it doesn’t work and then what do I do? It feels very heavy, it’s like a very heavy commitment. So how do you suggest people walk into this new area?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:10:08):

So therapy is definitely a process, it’s very individualized, and no one therapist is going to be a good fit for every single person, and a good therapist is going to know that. So just walking in and saying, “I’m here to try this out. I want to do maybe a couple of sessions, see if we’re a good fit,” and then just be willing to keep having that conversation with the therapist. And again, a good therapist should understand that. So if you get a very negative reaction to that right off the bat, that’s-

Lindsay Guentzel (00:10:39):

It’s a bad sign?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:10:39):

That is very likely a sign that that’s not going to be a good fit for you. But then just when looking at potential therapists, because there’s so many resources out there for finding therapists, whether it’s websites like Psychology Today, your insurance company’s online directory, it can be hard to sort through. But you do want to look for someone that at least identifies themself as having some degree of expertise in ADHD. It’s not necessarily routinely treated in every training program out there. A lot of times, therapists get their expertise more in their practical training as part of their schooling, rather than necessarily than from classes. And so not everyone is going to necessarily know how to work with a child with ADHD or work with an adult with ADHD.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:11:23):

So you do want to see if they talk about that in their bio or if it’s indicated on the insurance company’s website that this is an area they specialize in, you can call them. Most therapists will be happy to talk on the phone for five or 10 minutes. I certainly am, when I have a potential new client and really see, does it seem like the therapist is at least knowledgeable in this area that I want to seek help for? And then it really then just depends on that comfort when you go in. And then sometimes, obviously, people might have a preference. I want a male therapist or I want a female therapist. And hopefully, you live in an area where you do have some degree of choice over that. Not every area is fortunate enough to have a lot of therapists, much less therapists that know about ADHD.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:12:05):

And then just go in and see how comfortable you feel talking. Do they interrupt you frequently, do they let you talk, or do they let you maybe talk too much and go all over the place and don’t try to keep it focused? Does the therapist run late? And just look at those things. And again, you’ll get a good feel. I usually tell my clients it takes about four to six sessions to just really get in the groove, again, depending on what the issue is. So be willing to wait, recognize that it’s a process just like getting to know someone, there are going to be periods of discomforts and awkwardness in there, but it’s how does the therapist help to navigate that and help you feel comfortable working through that.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:12:44):

It’s interesting, the growing pains of therapy. I’ve felt very lucky, I’ve had two therapists as an adult and both have worked out great, but I feel like I’m an anomaly. The fact that I’ve had two therapists and both have worked out.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:12:58):

Some people will find that right one right off the bat, and it’s a terrific experience. For some people, it might take a while. And again, that’s not a reflection of the client or anything. It’s more a reflection of the system we live in where there may be more limited choice for coverage or more limited financial means to really afford therapy. But it really is just kind of keep trying, keep rolling. And again, a good therapist is going to understand insurance issues. If you’ve seen four therapist before and your insurance kept changing because you have a smaller employer that can’t afford the increase in the premiums every year and they keep shopping around, a good therapist will know too that you can pick up right away with where you left off. They know that they may need to get some background history, but they also really would understand that if there’s a past trauma that you’ve already dealt with, you can acknowledge it, but you don’t have to delve all back into that and rework it again with this new therapist.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:13:59):

You definitely can disclose what you want to disclose, but keep the focus on moving forward, because hopefully, you have a foundation from having worked with one or any number of therapists before as well. And I think that’s the hesitation, especially for people that are in that position where they need to find a new therapist. There may be some reluctance because I worked through all of this, it was painful, I grew from it, I’m glad I did it, I don’t need to do it again, and I’m worried that a new therapist is going to make me go back there when I’m ready to keep moving forward. And that’s a conversation to have maybe even on the phone before the first session, and definitely, in the first session. And again, a good therapist is really going to respect that.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:14:41):

What are some of the things that a therapist who specializes in ADHD might bring up in a session? Whether it’s conversations about past issues, moving forward. One of the things that we do a lot is making lists, honestly. Some sessions is all about making lists of what I need to do and what I want to do and what’s holding me back and how we can get through that.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:15:07):

Yes. So I know in my approach, I take a bit of a hybrid where some of it is kind of organic. We deal with things as they come up. And then usually, some of it is we do have a bit of a list of things that we always want to check in on every session. And so when we’re talking about stuff, a client might say, “Oh, so I’ve got this coming up next week with my fiance,” or, “my girlfriend.” And I’ll be, “Is that in your calendar?” And it’s a really good in the moment reminder to pull out the calendar and put it on there, and we’ll practice doing that.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:15:38):

Yeah. Some sessions might be just learning how to set up like Siri or something. And then some sessions might be a little bit more reviewing what’s working, going through some of the strategies. I do try to include at least some sort of relaxation techniques just to help get grounded, get focused, and encourage clients to practice that so it does give some accountability as well. And it’s really just their time to have that structure where even just learning to set aside an hour and be on time and show up really can start making a difference in improving one’s organizational skills.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:16:14):

I want to talk about Siri, because that’s actually something that I have found to be incredibly beneficial in my own life, post-diagnosis, when I actually do it, which is the key, I think, in so many of these things. But I want to move from therapy to coaching, because I think that there is a great connection between the two. Obviously, very different things. So I’m hoping that you could explain a little bit about how coaching fits into the treatment plan for ADHD.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:16:42):

Yeah. So coaching is definitely more that focus on the concrete tasks, like learning how to set up a to-do list on your phone, learning how to activate Siri, maybe learning some strategies for wrapping up one task, giving yourself five or 10 minutes to do a relaxation task and then move on to the next one. A lot of those strategies, maybe even just doing some different cognitive enhancing type games or software or things like that to learn how to focus, how to sustain your attention once you get bored and things like that. A therapist usually can do a lot of that as well, but then the therapist often is going to focus more on what are the emotional or behavioral roadblocks that are getting in the way of implementing these coaching strategies. So is there more anxiety about it, do you feel stuck in a system that isn’t going to support your change and you don’t want to alienate everyone in your life by trying to make changes?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:17:44):

And so sometimes, it’s kind of safer to stay a little bit more in that zone where the ADHD is a little bit more uncontrolled. And so the therapist is really going to help you work through that. And so you can have a therapist that does the coaching, or sometimes, if you’re ready to go, all gung ho about this, maybe you can just seek out the coach as well, see how that goes. And if it works fantastic and then if it seems like there are roadblocks coming up that it’s harder than maybe you think it “should be” to implement some of these things, then maybe that’s when you might want to seek out a therapy approach as well.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:18:23):

The coaching, to me, resembles almost like a cross between best friend and a personal assistant, someone that is there to help you, is there to help you move forward, but doesn’t in a way that there’s kind of like this camaraderie behind it. But it’s also important to find someone with good credentials, because I think we can talk about so many different things in this country that are not regulated and someone saying they’re a coach. Well, what are their credentials, what training process have they gone through, who are they working with? Make sure that you’re doing due diligence before you dive into that because coaching can be incredibly expensive.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:19:10):

Yes. It usually is not covered by insurance because of that lack of credentialing. And so that is also why a lot of times, clients will turn to therapy as well. But looking for a good coach, you do want to look at their credentials. There are some organizations out there that do coach training and credentialing. I know the International Coaching Federation is kind of like one of the bigger, just professional associations of coaches. And they do have requirements on, you have to have had certain training from certain programs that we accredit, have had a certain number of hours of practical experience as part of that training overseen by one of our training coaches. So if someone is part of an association like that, that usually is something of a stamp of quality. And then there’s other organizations like CHADD that have their own lists of coaches, that can be a really good resource as well because they’ll do a lot of the vetting and make sure it’s not just anyone hanging up a shingle calling themselves a coach that really doesn’t know what they’re doing out there.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:20:11):

But you definitely wanted… Just do your research as well. Look at the website, see, do they list credentials, and then Google what those credentials are. And just keep Googling until you really get at the root of like what is this organization, what do other people have to say about it? Sometimes, maybe is there a legal complaint in a state against the organization for fraud and their training or whatever. And so just do a Google search and see what comes up. And then it just really goes back to that comfort level. Do I feel comfortable with this person and am I actually getting results in working with this person? Because sometimes, you can feel good talking with a person, and yet, nothing is changing. And a good coach or a good therapist is going to recognize that, and again, start doing some challenging or digging to see what’s going on here. Yes, we may like each other, but if you’re not benefiting, we got to figure out what we’re doing here.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:21:04):

I can already hear people, the panic setting in of like, “Oh, gosh, to find a therapist or to find a coach, that’s a lot of work.” And it is, it is a commitment. We all know people with ADHD can hyper focus, we can also get distracted. So when you were like, “Oh, Google,” I was like, “Yes, Google, but stay focused on the path.” And so I’m hoping that we could talk a little bit about things that you could add into your life, your day to day life, to start helping with some of the things that are holding you back with ADHD. So what are some of the tools that you send your patients home with that are things that they can start doing immediately to, hopefully, start to feel better, see some results, that sort of thing?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:21:54):

Yeah. I mean the easiest thing is a to-do list. And that’s usually something I’ll do in one of, if not be first sessions. What are three big tasks that you’ve had looming over you that you just feel that dread thinking about starting? And then we’ll just know drill down, let’s create a list. When this week can you do this first one? When this week can you do the second one? And just start even with that and then seeing how it goes. Some clients will get on it right away and be ready to add more, some will notice that they still procrastinate when that assigned time comes up and we can start looking at that as well. But I do like to start with some sort of task so that we can get some data on what’s going to work, where are the struggles that we need to address.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:22:37):

So I’ll really start with that. If they do have a significant other maybe that they live with that may be, maybe, some of the driving force behind coming into therapy or coaching, I’ll encourage them to ask this person, can you give me a list of three or four things you want me to do this week and then put them into your schedule and do them, and then we’ll check in at the next session. So how did that go, did you make that ask? Hopefully, they did give you something. And did you put it into your calendar, did you do it, how did it go? And start looking at that. And then we’ll just look at whatever, again, their specific concerns are. We know ADHD manifests in so many different ways for so many people. And so we’ll look at what are the specific drawbacks or roadblocks for you.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:23:25):

Again, is it I do one thing, I spend 10 hours on it when really, one hour would’ve been fine, and then I was trying to make it perfect. So can we set a timer for something? And then when the timer goes off, you give yourself a note, set it for another five minutes to close your eyes, do some deep breathing, and then get onto the next thing on your to-do list. Or can I have a person just pop their head in my office in an hour and see how I’m doing and maybe invite me to go for a quick walk around the office and trying to find those ways to break up the task, really looking maybe at ways to tolerate some of the boredom. So I know maybe we can practice doing a Sudoku until you get bored and then keep going for 10, 15 minutes with that, and really build that tolerance for maybe some of the more boring tedious types of activities.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:24:16):

Okay. So I want to back up really quick.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:24:17):


Lindsay Guentzel (00:24:18):

I have a couple of follow-up questions and I’m going to forget about Sudoku if we don’t get to it now. But you mentioned to-do lists and working with your patients on them. Do you feel like or have patients told you that that accountability with you makes them more likely to do it during the week if they know they’re coming in the next week and you’re going to ask about it?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:24:39):

Oh, absolutely. Or even if they don’t do it, then they at least know that it’s going to be an opportunity to figure out what got in my way and how can I do this better. So that definitely is something that’s very helpful. And then of course, the goal of therapy is start developing that accountability for yourself over time. And again, finding maybe some of those accountability partners so that over time, you’re not going to be as reliant on the therapist, and eventually, can go off and live your own happy, fulfilling life.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:25:09):

The other thing you mentioned was… Let’s say you’re someone and I’ve definitely done this, where you spend 10 hours on something that could be done in an hour and you’re trying to make it perfect. You mentioned shutting it off, taking five minutes to do deep breathing or go for a walk. What does that do, that reset, and how does that benefit someone with ADHD?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:25:31):

Yeah. So one of the features of ADHD for a lot of people, again, is that hyper focus and almost an OCD like tendency. And if you’ve heard some of my podcast on diagnosis, you’ll know that that is a very common co-occurring condition, or sometimes, it can be a misdiagnosis because there are so many similarities. But there can be this tendency still to ruminate, partly because the thought of moving on to something else and having to expend more energy is really painful as well. And so it can be more comforting to stay with what I’m doing and the brain keeps working on it and working on it. So if you can clear your mind, go for a walk, do some deep breathing, that does help the brain to start to settle down, decreases the activity on a lot of those old pathways that were being activated.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:26:21):

And it’s just a lot easier than to shift your attention and find that willingness, that stamina to take on something new, because you would just feel a little bit more relaxed, a little bit calmer. I mean, it almost is in some ways, if you’re tired, taking a nap, you get up, and then you’re ready to go on with your day. This is just like the very mini version of that for your brain. Just turning off for a minute and then you just come back more rested, refreshed, and you can start something a little bit different, with fresh eyes and really having that clean mental slate to work with.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:26:56):

And I’m so proud of myself for actually remembering where I was going with this. So the Sudoku comment, you said we would start to try doing 20 minutes of Sudoku. And I love Sudoku, but you mentioned, doing it to the point of getting bored and then continuing to do it even after you’re bored. And I’m curious, I mean, I think I know the reasoning for it, but I’m hoping you can explain what that does and what that’s training you to do.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:27:21):

Yes, because one of the features of ADHD is this inability to tolerate boredom. It’s like, we’ll do something, get focused, and then we want to just keep doing that. And then really, once that loses its excitement, loses its novelty, that just gets left a lot of times unfinished or whatever, and it’s on to the next exciting shiny thing. And sometime, that’s great like if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s always on to the next, kind of the coolest, you’re right on that leading curve of whatever trends there are. But a lot of times, for someone that has a nine to five job, working in an office, you got to tie up those loose ends or people start getting annoyed with you. And because those last steps are usually the most boring parts because you’re proofreading, dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s, it’s just boring to do that.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:28:17):

The brain wants that stimulation of new, new, new. So if you can engage yourself in a task that’s boring and really push through it, keep doing it, you do, over time, learn to tolerate some of that boredom so that you can make it all the way through, get something done and be able to put it to bed and move on to the next thing. And over time, that does become more rewarding because you start to realize, “This is what it’s like to finish a task. This is what it’s like to get recognition for a job well done because the job did get done.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:28:51):

Yes. That’s the important part. It actually reminds me a little bit about the things I say to myself before a workout. If I’m not in the mood to workout, I’m like, “I know the first 10 minutes are not going to be great, but then I’m going to be really happy I came.” And it’s like, “You just have to get past that point where you want to throw in the towel.”

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:29:10):

Yes. I love that metaphor, because it really is like working out for the brain, whether it’s Sudoku or something else, and I love Sudoku as well. I certainly don’t find it boring at all, but there does get to a point where it’s like, “I’m going through all these rows and columns again for the 10th time.” And for someone with ADHD, I’ve heard that described many times as yeah, that’s when I’m ready to just be done and move on to the next puzzle. It’s like, “No, no, no, let’s finish this puzzle and get it done.” And then of course, the flip side is then, you also want to resist the temptation then to spend the next 10 hours playing Sodoku and ignoring all those tasks that need to get done.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:29:47):

So again, having a timer set on the phone or really committing to doing one game all the way through, and then I’m going to set the phone down, take a quick walk around the corridor, and get back to the next job on my task is also really important. And that’s also what I would be checking in on as a therapist with a client is, “So are you sticking to the limits around this, it’s playing it until you’re bored, do it for 10 minutes, then move on to something else? Or do you play it until you get bored, keep doing it, find that you like it, and then spend the rest of your day doing it? In which case, we got to find a different strategy here.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:30:27):

You’re listening to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel and we have so much more to come with Dr. Gregory Harms right after this.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:30:33):

We’re going to take a quick break from our conversation with Dr. Harms to bring Keith Boswell, Boz, back into the conversation. He’s the vice president of marketing for ADHD Online, and in a sense, has become the guinea pig for Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel because you so candidly and, I mean, so generously have been sharing your story. And last week in the conversation about stimulant medications, it just so happened that the stars aligned and you had just started taking your medication. So I would love if you would be comfortable sharing an update on how things are going.

Keith Boswell (00:31:27):

Yep. So things are going well. It’s two weeks now. I do have a note out to my doctor, because I think I mentioned last week, I had a cup of coffee and I got really tired. And one of the rare side effects that I’ve learned about Adderall is, sometimes, in the wrong dosage, which I’m on a very low dose right now, but about two hours into the medication, it’s working well enough that my brain starts to feel relaxed. And that relaxed sensation, while it still feels like, “Oh, it’s time to get up and do stuff,” it hits like a wave of exhaustion. And so I’m talking with my provider about potentially switching my dose or medication. I mean, it’s just part of it, right? I mean, this is the learning. But I still notice a difference between when I take it and when I don’t. And yesterday was the first day I went through the very ADHD moment of getting more than halfway to work and realizing I’d left my medicine at home.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:32:40):

Oh, that’s the worst.

Keith Boswell (00:32:41):

And we’re sharing cars right now so there’s no real easy way to get home. And I just kind of winged it, and I definitely noticed a difference. So it’s going well, I’m still encouraged, but this is the reality of starting something new. And the great thing is I’m just in a conversation with my provider and seeing how it goes, so more to come.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:33:07):

That’s fantastic. I actually think it was when I was traveling home from Grand Rapids when I was out visiting you guys in June. And I had an issue with my bag, I had to stop at the Delta counter when I got back to Minneapolis. And I overheard a customer next to me who was super frustrated. They had lost his bag and it wasn’t going to be there in time and he needed something in it. And the woman working the counter was trying to be as patient and understanding as possible. She’s not responsible for it, but she’s taking the brunt of it and-

Keith Boswell (00:33:37):


Lindsay Guentzel (00:33:37):

I overheard her say, “Yeah, we recommend anything important that you need on the trip…” And the first thing she said was medication. And I, all of a sudden realized, my medication was in my check bag the entire time. So had my check bag not made it to whatever destination I was going to, I wouldn’t have had access to my medication. And so it was just this reminder of, “Okay, the next time I travel, that is one thing that has to get moved into my carry-on, whether it’s just going in my purse or it’s going in the bag that I’m putting under the seat with my computer.” And it actually reminded me growing up, when we traveled as a family, we went… Very lucky. We went to Mexico a lot of spring breaks and there was the one rule in the family was your swimsuit and your toothbrush always went in your carry-on because the rest of the stuff…

Lindsay Guentzel (00:34:28):

You could get to Mexico and have a good time as long as you had a swimsuit. And so it just reminded me, make sure you are planning ahead. And I think that’s the part that’s so hard for people with ADHD is everything is set up to work against us. When you think in your head, had I traveled to Seattle, I was just on a girl’s trip, and I arrived and my suitcase wasn’t there, I don’t know that my immediate thought would be, “Oh, my gosh, my medication.” It probably would’ve been something silly like, “Ugh, but that dress I really wanted to wear…” Something so outrageous, but it’s the stuff that’s really important.

Keith Boswell (00:35:00):

Well, and it’s that realization later that night when you’re like, “Wait a second, I don’t…” I mean, last night, I went home and put my medicine in my backpack. I was creating a new routine now, right? So-

Lindsay Guentzel (00:35:12):

That’s smart.

Keith Boswell (00:35:12):

It’s like I know that I’ll have it. I mean, I’ve had to do that with my laptop. I mean, second day of work here, I drove all the way to work without my laptop and turned around and went home. So I haven’t left my laptop since, I doubt I’ll leave my medication, but… Yeah, it happens.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:35:28):

It does happen. And the unfortunate part is that it’s up to us to create these workarounds, to make sure that we are supporting ourselves in whatever way possible. And sometimes, that means setting up new routines.

Keith Boswell (00:35:43):

Yeah. And I’m finding more and more… I’m just trying to laugh it off. I think before… Not knowing I had ADHD, my reaction probably would’ve been more self critical quite honestly. And more like, “What are you doing?” And-

Lindsay Guentzel (00:36:03):


Keith Boswell (00:36:04):

That negative story, it’s so easy to tell yourself. And I can only laugh about it now. I mean, I can’t beat myself up anymore because it’s like, “What good is that? What am I getting out of it?

Lindsay Guentzel (00:36:17):

And it’s so easy to do. I so appreciate that you mentioned that because that’s actually something I’m working on in therapy is when that negative voice comes in. And it can be something as simple as like you spill your coffee and that negative voice of like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m such an idiot, I’m such a failure.” And I do think that that is something that everyone deals with. We have the critical negative voices, but it definitely is something that is amplified for people with ADHD.

Keith Boswell (00:36:46):

It is because I think people don’t understand… I didn’t understand how many conversations I was having with myself and not others, full conversations, full debates, and I would settle things. And so in my head, this raging storm of a conversation was fixed with no one but myself. It’s nothing like multiple personality, it’s not anything like that extreme, but it is quite active conversations that happen. And it’s very easy, I think, with now, understanding ADHD and how it presents that turning that negative mirror on yourself, it’s the easiest one. Because the signals that you’re getting from others are, “Well, you just don’t get it, you’re just not plugged in, how do you forget stuff like this if this is important to you?” And it’s very difficult to explain without sounding kind of like you’re disappointing in some way, or you feel that way at least. So yeah, I’m trying to find more of that. On the other shoulder, laugh about it, not just listen to the bad voice.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:38:06):

This is such an important conversation to be having. And I’m so glad that we’re having it right now. It wasn’t really the intent of [inaudible 00:38:13]-

Keith Boswell (00:38:12):

No, usually isn’t, right? We-

Lindsay Guentzel (00:38:14):

I know, we’re like our little alone therapy group, I love it. We’ll have to start… Maybe we’ll come up with a group name or we can make T-shirts or something, but-

Keith Boswell (00:38:23):


Lindsay Guentzel (00:38:23):

I would love to know and I know you were recently diagnosed, you gave yourself a couple of months to sit on it, you just started medication, but you did share that ADHD was something that was brought up to you by a therapist years ago. So it’s been in the back of your mind, you’ve known that there are some things that you’ve struggled with. And so I’m curious, as we’re in this conversation of ways to manage ADHD that don’t have to do with medication, are there things that stand out to you that you’ve been doing or that you want to start doing that you think might help with some of the things that you’re dealing with?

Keith Boswell (00:39:00):

I do. I mean, one of the most critical is, I mean, just for me, is I’m constantly throughout the day setting timers on my watch for myself. If I notice it’s eight minutes before a meeting starts, I’ll hit set a five minute timer. Because too often, I get caught up in work, I start doing something, I get hyper focused right in that moment before I’m supposed to transition, I end up late or I end up doing something else. And it’s that little time management piece that has really helped me significantly. I think the other thing I go back to, I always knew writing things down was good for me, and it worked, and checking things off the list. I think what I’m appreciating more is estimating an element of time to those tasks.

Keith Boswell (00:39:52):

And then also, going through the effort to break down the tasks to everything. It’s not just the goal and the to-do list, it’s the goal and the steps to get there. Because when I don’t track the steps to get there, it’s very easy for me to say, “Oh, it’s just too much, that’s too big today,” and put it off. And I think when I put it on paper and I commit to everything that I know I need to do, and I’ve broken it down, I get it done. And it works for me. And that sense, I can’t tell you, that sense of satisfaction of scratching something off my list, I mean, I scratch it with vigor.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:40:33):

It’s so funny you say that. One of my dearest friends does not have ADHD and I would consider her to be someone who’s very, very organized. And she has one of those bullet journals, so every… She writes everything out herself. And she mentioned that everything she does, she writes down, even if it’s something she’s done already, so that at the end of the day, she can look back at that day and go, “It might not have felt like the most productive day, but look at all of the things I got done.” And it can be things as simple as I took out the garbage, I paid this bill, I canceled this account. All of those things that if they’re not our number one priority, I don’t think we give ourselves credit for.

Keith Boswell (00:41:15):

It’s true.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:41:16):

Yeah. We feel like we should be doing so much more.

Keith Boswell (00:41:18):

I mean, I totally relate to that. I will be looking at a list and feeling like I haven’t gotten anything done, and I’ll remember the things that I got done instead, and I’ll quickly add them to the list and scratch them with the same vigor.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:41:32):


Keith Boswell (00:41:33):

I mean, I really do. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, I did get that done.” So there is a power there. I mean, I think it’s that control of yourself when you feel that sense of accomplishment. It’s amazing.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:41:46):

Right. And I think… And I won’t put words in your mouth, but I feel this a little bit, knowing you, and now, not only working with you, but calling you a friend, and I know that I deal with this, is I look at my career and what I’ve accomplished and I don’t feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. And it’s so easy to forget about all of the things I’ve done to get to this point and to focus in on all the things I haven’t done where I want to be and not giving myself credit for how hard I worked to get to this point. I focus on the failures.

Keith Boswell (00:42:21):

Yeah. Right. I totally relate to that. I mean, you’re definitely not putting words in my mouth and it’s-

Lindsay Guentzel (00:42:29):

That’s why we’re so kindred.

Keith Boswell (00:42:30):

Well, and I think it’s partly like it’s that dream big and achieve big, right? It’s that all the things I wanted. And I think it’s partly contextualizing it, but I mean it’s really interesting. I started just some personal writing this week that I’m considering posting to our blog or something like that. It’s interesting because I’m in this, participating in the podcast, being in the position that I’m in, it is moving into this territory of it’s my job, but it’s also something outside of work.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:43:05):


Keith Boswell (00:43:05):

And I’ve never really been comfortable blending those. And so doing that here… And it’s kind of like the podcast happened. I mean, it’s been a very natural progression, and it feels like I’m choosing to do it versus being asked to. And that’s a big difference because I don’t think I could have done this a few years ago just… Because I think I would’ve thought, “Oh, gosh, all the things I failed at, all the things I didn’t get done, all the things…” Whatever. And I’m really trying to put it back in this new way of saying like, “Look, this… Look where you are now, look what you can do, look what is possible versus all the things that weren’t.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:43:49):

And going off of what you mentioned, writing and using it as a way to express yourself, but also realizing that it is something that can be this gray area of your life and your work. I saw this post from Tara McMullin, she’s a podcaster. And on Instagram, she shared a post… Actually, back on June 1st, but I just saw it a couple days ago. And the question she asked was are we doing what we love or is it just a spectacle? And it really hit home for me because I have been very hesitant to do things I love because I’m not sure if people are going to engage with it, I’m not sure if people are going to connect with it. What if no one likes it? What if my mom is the only person who engages with it? But we hold ourselves back so much when we are fearful of what the response is going to be.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:44:40):

And I actually just posted the first video ever to the Refocused pod account on Instagram. And it was one of those things where it was like, “I just need it to get out of my own way.” And I had this moment where I had this idea I wanted to share and I just turned on the camera and I started talking, and you know what? It was way easier than I thought it was going to be. And I actually think it turned out really well, but it’s getting out of your own way. And I do think that it’s hard in the world we’re living in right now, where there is so much crossover between real life and our work. And so figuring out how you balance that and what you’re doing and what brings you joy, there’s so much stuff that I feel like I’m supposed to do, but I don’t like doing it. And so why am I letting that control the narrative of my life?

Keith Boswell (00:45:34):

It’s easy to say yes to stuff, I find that. It’s easy to put other people’s things ahead of my own. I do that all the time.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:45:43):

Ah, yeah, yeah.

Keith Boswell (00:45:44):

Yeah. I’m definitely trying to take that time back for myself, I think I’m realizing. Because it’s even like we were talking about with the writing, everything I’ve ever done, I’ve written quite a bit throughout my career, but it’s always been in service to the industry I was in or building “thought leadership” around a space. And so it’s interesting as I’m picking back up again, almost like we’re doing here on the podcast, I mean, start with my story and where it’s led, and it’s not the traditional story. I mean, if you were to walk up and meet me at a conference and you’re like, “Oh there’s the VP of marketing for this company,” that title comes with some preconceived notion, right? And I don’t think I fit that preconceived notion.

Keith Boswell (00:46:34):

I’m really good at what I do, but I wouldn’t say like if someone said, “Oh, VP of marketing,” you put my picture up that they’d picked me. But that’s also part of what I want to talk about because I think that’s the power of ADHD because I know it’s part of what got me here. To me, it seems like it would be disingenuous to not include that aspect of it, to then talk about what we’re doing as a business, and why those are so connected. So it’s an interesting thing. I’ll definitely follow up. I’m in the draft stages right now, but it’s something once I go in, it’s probably going to be like this, it’ll be a regular thing because that’s what I’m used to. And that’s what I’m really wanting again is that outlet.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:47:27):

That’s fantastic. And some great stuff, obviously, coming from Dr. Harms about doing those things and giving yourself time to transition out of them and using them as… I don’t want to say a reward because it’s life and that’s… It shouldn’t be, “Hey, I’m doing something I enjoy and that should be a reward.” But knowing that those things are there for you as an outlet, whether it’s writing or recording videos for Instagram or setting aside time and making it a priority to go to the gym or read a book or… Sometimes I even think I want to stay home and just organize my closet, and that’s an enjoyable thing for me. I just don’t get myself enough time to do it.

Keith Boswell (00:48:18):

Yeah. I think we just… It is. It’s a matter of permission and prioritization. I am amazed by the things that I make time for that I didn’t need to.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:48:30):

And it’s a slippery slope because it’s very easy to look at all of that and say, “Man, I wish I knew what I knew now and I wish I could get that time back,” but you can’t, we know that. It’s not possible unless we’re living in… What is the scientific or the science fiction? We’re living in the…

Keith Boswell (00:48:48):

In the multiverse.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:48:50):

Thank you. Yeah. We’re living in the multiverse. I don’t think we are, but there’s a lot of things I don’t know about life in this world. You can’t go back, you can’t get it back, all you can do is stop yourself from making those decisions moving forward.

Keith Boswell (00:49:05):

I completely agree.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:49:07):

All right, Boz. As always, a pleasure talking with you. I wish you the best. Get some writing in and we will talk to you again next week.

Keith Boswell (00:49:14):

All right. Sounds good, Lindsay. Thanks so much.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:49:16):

Thank you. Now, let’s get back to our conversation with Dr. Gregory Harms by looking at the role physical exercise plays in managing your ADHD symptoms.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:49:32):

I know physical workouts are actually incredibly important as well. So can you tell me a little bit about how physical movement plays a role in controlling and combating our ADHD symptoms?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:49:47):

Oh, absolutely. I mean the most immediate reward is just that dopamine and endorphin rush that you get from doing it, which again, stimulates the brain, helps it to feel good. But then also just, again, gets it centered. Part of it is you’re also wearing yourself out somewhat by exercising. And so it is actually then a little bit easier just to stay focused on one thing because you don’t necessarily have the stamina than to keep going around, looking at different things or letting the brain hop around. Just from that physical exertion, it’s actually somewhat easier to just stay a little bit more focused as well.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:50:25):

And then of course, just the whole having the whole exercise routine, following through on an intention, saying I’ve scheduled the exercise, I do it. Again, it feels good to have set an intention, followed it through, completed it, really, again, that builds more dopamine and starts to rewire the reward system as well. But it really is just that whole kind of the physical exertion, you get the whole body moving. It really activates a lot of those pathways that the ADHD activates. And then just gets the brain settled because all the nerves get their activity that the ADHD normally gives them. So they wear themselves out, deplete their neurotransmitters, and then the brain finally is settled.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:51:12):

And how much time and exertion are we talking? For somebody who maybe doesn’t work out at all and they’re like, “Okay, well I’m going to start adding this into my routine,” what should they be focusing on?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:51:23):

Yeah. Again, that’s going to be different for everyone. So definitely someone that may not like to exercise as much, doesn’t have that history, just a brisk walk. You don’t have to jog, you don’t have to run, but if you can just take a brisk walk either on a nice day or now that it’s COVID, the rules are all changing, but if you’re comfortable being indoors, finding a shopping mall or a big-box store to at least walk around the outside, to at least minimize then some of those distractions and looking at all the cool packaging and stuff on the shelves. But if you just keep yourself moving, that can help. I really recommend just 20 minutes, four times a week, of doing that brisk walking, really is optimal for mental health. The thing is you just have to keep moving.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:52:08):

So sometimes, being outdoors, especially in a big city like this, you go a block and then you stop for five minutes while you wait for the light to change, and then you can cross and keep going and then you stop at the next block and wait for the light to change. You do need to find a way either just going around the same block over and over again, or finding maybe more of like a nature area or a park where you can go ride a track to just keep that moving constantly for 20 minutes, and just get your heart rate up just a little bit over what it normally is. We’re not going for running a marathon or anything, it’s just about the getting moving.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:52:40):

And a great way to add this into your life, and it’s something I avoided for so long because I was convinced I was someone who liked to work out alone, is finding accountability partners. And they don’t have to be someone who has ADHD. It can be a friend, it can be someone you meet at the gym. I love using my gym as an example because the classes I go to, I’m not joking when I say that the age is like early twenties to seventies, and all different ages, demographics, places in life, but we show up for one another. And it has been such a game changer to have these people who go, “Hey, are you going to be there on Wednesday?” And I say, “Yes,” and then I show up because I know that they’re counting on me. And it really has changed the way I look at workouts.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:53:26):

I look at it more now as it’s just as much physical as it is emotional because there is that camaraderie and that socialization. And one thing I did the first couple months I started going was giving myself a star sticker every day that I went. And I know that sounds cliche and it sounds like something you would do with a child when they’re potty training ,but it worked. It worked to go to my therapist every week and say, “I set this goal and look what I did last week. I showed up all of these times.” And for somebody who has had difficulty showing up consistently, it was this moment of like, “I can actually do it.” It was a great reminder of, “This is possible.”

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:54:09):

Yes, absolutely. And it really is those gold stars, the stickers, whatever are fantastic, it’s the same principle that those games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds or whatever work on to keep us continuing to play. It’s you get this little shiny thing and it feels good to earn it, and so you stay engaged to keep doing it, so that is a great strategy. And then definitely having accountability from all directions, whether it’s people in the class, going back to the therapist and talking about it, or just having someone, again, that you go for a walk with, because then you also skip some of that emotional needs met.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:54:41):

And yeah, you don’t even have to mention ADHD. Now, we all know most people don’t like working out, don’t like exercise, and you can just find an accountability partner just framing it as, “I don’t like working out, it’s hard by myself, why don’t we do this together and see if we can both reach our fitness goals,” or whatever it is. And it really does build more of that, not just accountability, but really helping to make it more enjoyable, and then you’re more likely to keep doing it.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:55:09):

So I used my old school planner with the little gold stars, but the great thing about where we are right now is how advanced technology can be used to help people with ADHD. And we’ve talked a few times, we’ve mentioned it, using Siri. I, for some reason, I’m a very social person. I love spending time with people, I’m very outgoing. Text messages, for some reason, like right now, there are 70 some unread text messages on my phone. I don’t know why. I mean, I do know why. I don’t know why I can’t break it. But one of the things I’ve started doing is when I have my morning commute, it’s like a 20, 25 minute drive, I plug it into my car and I say, “Siri, read me my unread messages.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:55:54):

And Siri walks me through every single message. She asks me if I want to respond, she asks me what I want to say. We can send it, it’s done. And it takes that pressure away because I’m not doing it. I’m not sitting there with my phone in my hand. I’m driving, I’m paying attention to what’s happening around me, but I’m getting something done. And so I’m curious what other ways you see technology working that people could incorporate to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with what living with ADHD, what makes it so stressful?

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:56:30):

Yes, absolutely. And everyone processes information differently. Some people are very visual in their processing and they like reading the text messages. They like the act then of typing out a reply and being able to read it and see it. And some people are more audio processors, they like hearing things. They remember things better if they’re told, rather than having something written down or having something emailed to them. And so now that we do have this great technology, whether it’s Siri or Google or any of the other ones that are out there, that can read it and then you can talk and interact and get a lot of the stuff done, that will definitely help as well. And there definitely is some of that degree of introversion and extroversion as well. So sometimes, it feels better just to talk to the phone because it’s like you’re talking to someone and you get stuff done.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:57:18):

Some people want to be a little bit more kind of keep to themselves, a little bit more isolated, they feel like they work better just cranking out those messages on their own. So it’s great that we have these tools. And definitely, you’ve got the calendar reminders on your phone, or some people really remember better actually physically writing something out pen and paper. And so having more of that old school play on with the paper sheets in it that you can pull out, fill out the calendar or have a little pad of paper with your to-do list that you can write, for some people, that’s the better option because there’s more of that brain connection with writing things.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:57:55):

But then for some people that process things quickly, having the phone to type in can help or just asking Siri to set a reminder for something can help. Email definitely is a great way too, to slow down, get your thoughts out, be able to read it, make sure that you’re making sense, which for some people is more comfortable than talking on the phone. So that can also be a great option as well, that if you are worried about leaving something out or getting a little bit scattered and losing the train of thought in a conversation, you’ve got that opportunity as well. And then you also have the ability to listen to eBooks if you want, or just get something read to you.

Dr. Gregory Harms (00:58:34):

You can have an instruction manual read to you as you’re actually doing it, instead of having to try to read it, remember it, try to do it, be like, “Wait, what was that? Let me go back and read it again. Where was that in this list?” Instead, again, Google or Siri or whatever can just read it to you as you keep doing it along, which is great for people who like baking or cooking or stuff like that. It really expands their horizons on what they’re willing to try because they can give their full attention to what’s in front of them, instead of trying to shift between the cookbook and everything that they’ve got on the counter.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:59:11):

I didn’t realize how much of an audio learner I was until I really got into podcasts and could just go for a run and be listening and be retaining things. And I loved reading growing up, but I think back and I’m like, “Was I actually reading or was I memorizing?” And was I actually going word by word and reading it the way I was supposed to? And so now, I’ve actually changed all the accessibility functions on my phone and my computer so I can find an article… If I’m doing research for work or for this podcast, and I can click a button and my phone or my computer will read it to me in a voice I’ve chosen. And it’s so much easier for me to get through very long lengthy articles or books by having it read to me versus reading it myself. And I guess I just… I’m encouraging people to give it a try because I had no idea that that’s where my power was.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:00:22):

Absolutely. I mean, the settings are all there, you just have to know how to turn them on and tweak them. Experimenting with it costs you nothing, so it definitely is worth trying as many different things as possible and really find what works. Because again, we all go through more or less the same educational system, at least here in the United States, so we’re all taught generally to learn in a certain way and this is how things are done. And for a lot of people, especially with ADHD, that doesn’t always work, but it’s what we’re told we should be doing or this is how people are supposed to learn, and if you don’t, it’s wrong. And a lot of times, it’s just getting past some of that hesitation, losing some of those unhelpful messages from childhood, and just being willing to try these different things and find what works for you. Because especially as an adult, what matters at the end of the day is the results that you’re getting and you have a lot more freedom to really figure out how to get there.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:01:22):

I’m curious if there’s anything that stands out to you from your time practicing and working with people who have ADHD as something that you see as being a successful addition to life that you don’t find enough people utilizing.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:01:41):

So I think the big one that I really try to recommend is really that trying to engage in some sort of daily meditation or relaxation exercise. And again, there’s a lot of tools online that can help with that or you find what works yourself. And we live in such a busy world that it’s easy to keep going, keep going, keep going. Yeah, it’s okay if I need to take that five, 10 minutes to shift my brain and focus because that does have a benefit, but just sitting and relaxing and just doing some meditation or something for any other purpose, I don’t have time for that. And it really does make a lot of changes just in the way the brain is wired as you do it over time. It just helps us to be more calm over time.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:02:30):

There’s a lot of other benefits that can happen like sleep can be improved if you meditate more frequently, if you’re dealing with chronic pain conditions, those can really be helped by doing some sort of daily just 20 minutes of relaxation. And it really just is amazing how packed our lives can get that we don’t have 20 minutes just for ourselves to really just relax, focus a little bit, and just unplug from the world for 20 minutes. And I think that’s the biggest thing I really try to recommend right off the bat. And it really is probably the very, very last thing that really seems to get added, but there is so much benefit, I think, to carving out that time.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:03:14):

Someone comes to you, they’ve been recently diagnosed with ADHD, and they don’t know where to start when it comes to educating themselves. And there’s so many resources out there. And again, going back to the hyper focus, you want to be very careful that you aren’t just going down this rabbit hole where you’re spending all your time, dissecting every last corner of ADHD research. What do you recommend for people who want to know more, who want to learn more of how their brain works, what are the resources that you tell them to look into?

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:03:52):

So I really just tell them, try to find just one source, again, CHADD is a great one, and just stick with it for like three weeks, and see, does it feel like my questions are getting answered? And then we can also talk about what you’re finding in therapy as well. Because I do like to empower people to find their information, find what really resonates for you. And I think that’s more powerful than any particular book or resource or something I could offer right off the bat. And let’s go through this journey together then and really see how you make meaning of the fact that you have ADD or ADHD, and what you’re going to change and work on and learn maybe how you might then explain it to someone else. And it’s a great habit to learn, to just find one thing, not go down the rabbit hole. Let’s find a source, vet it, they can talk about it with me, and then learn how to just stick with that and really just take what they give you and focus on working with that.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:05:00):

I also think it’s interesting that we expect answers immediately, but we also have to acknowledge that what we know about ADHD in just the timeframe that we’ve learned about it, this isn’t… We’re not going back hundreds of years, this is a very new thing that people are learning about every day.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:05:21):

Absolutely. Because I remember even when I was in high school, just hearing a couple students are like, “Oh, I’ve had ADHD.” I’m like, “Well, what is that?” Even back then, and I’d like to think I’m not that old, but that’s ancient history. But it really is fairly new that people are really keying into what it is, the impact it can have on someone’s life, and really trying to find ways to effectively treat it and help people to live their most fulfilling lives that they can. So yeah, so there is definitely maybe a lot of speculation out there on the internet, hopefully, a lot of good science. And that’s why, again, I think it’s what makes sense for you, knowing your own experience that you’ve had to get to this point where you’ve gotten the diagnosis. What is really resonating about yeah, this is exactly what I experienced, and if this person experienced the same thing and this is what they did, maybe that’s something I can try. And again, see how it goes, because also, there is a lot of misinformation out there. TikTok is not a peer-reviewed-

Lindsay Guentzel (01:06:26):

It’s not certified.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:06:26):

… medical journal, but there is a lot of good inspirational stories on there as well.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:06:32):

Yes, [inaudible 01:06:32].

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:06:32):

So it’s really what makes sense for you, and then talk about it then with someone that you trust, whether that is your therapist, your physician, your psychiatrist, your spouse, whoever it is that really gives you some of that validation as well that yeah, you’re on the right track with this or that’s not making sense to me or that’s not really how I see you. And again, you just keep looking.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:06:57):

Yeah, it’s very much a journey. And the one thing that I think is so important in a way, I love that you leave all of these options open for people to try is that what works for someone right now might not work for them in six months or in a year from now. And so to have an idea, kind of like an arsenal of all these tools that you know could be beneficial, it’s really smart to be adding that in.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:07:22):

Exactly. Because again, even learning how to navigate life with ADHD as a journey, a lot of times when you get that diagnosis initially, it’s about stabilization. People are coming to me because things have gotten out of hand. Their marriage may be on the rocks, they’re about to get fired. It’s what can I do to handle this now, get some stability? But then at some point, you do, again, moving forward, make some of these changes. And if you’re really just focused on keeping things stable, that’s not really going to be sustainable or get you a lot of improvement down the road so it is important to keep growing, keep looking, see what’s working for me now, keep evaluating. Is this still working for me, is it time to take another step, find something new?

Lindsay Guentzel (01:08:08):

Dr. Harms, thank you so much for welcoming me into your practice here in Chicago and for just sharing so many awesome things. I feel like I am walking away, I’m like, “Oh, these are really good ideas, I have to dive into that,” which is, I think, the best part of this whole project is I feel like I’m learning along with everybody else, which has been so wonderful. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us.

Dr. Gregory Harms (01:08:32):

Oh, you are welcome. I’ve really enjoyed this.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:08:42):

Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel is a collaboration between me, Lindsay Guentzel, and ADHD Online, a telemedicine healthcare leader offering affordable and accessible ADHD assessments, medication management, and teletherapy. You can find out more by visiting adhdnline.com. The show’s music was created by Louis Inglis, a songwriter and composer based out of Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:09:11):

A huge thank you to Dr. Gregory Harms for making time for me during my visit to Chicago, and to Keith Boswell for his continued honesty and humor. It is lovely to be able to hear about someone’s journey as it is happening. And remember to subscribe, rate, and review wherever you’re listening now and join us next week for another episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:09:39):

You can join us this Wednesday, August 3rd at 2:00 PM Eastern, 1:00 PM Central, for a special get to know you webinar with me to learn more about my life and ask any questions you have about my own ADHD story and this podcast. You can register by heading over to adhdonline.com/webinars.

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