The Benefits of Nature on ADHD and Mental Health

Many of us instinctively know the benefits and calming effects of nature on our physical and mental health. The last time you spent an afternoon hiking, or taken a stroll in a community park, you may have noticed upon your return to home that you were more focused, less depleted and in a better mood. This is not surprising since research shows that outdoor activities appear to have significant health benefits that continue after our time in nature (Barton & Pretty, 2010). 

Most of our daily activities such as work, homework, driving, planning our day, making lists, etc. require focused and directed attention that can lead to mental fatigue. According to Kaplan’s (1995) research on Attention Restorative Theory (ART), being in natural environments or participating in activities that require an involuntary form of attention (e.g. captivating, gentle fascination), effortless curiosity, and a sense of escape will have restorative effects on the mind and promote overall wellbeing. 

More importantly, research shows that children with ADHD who spend time in nature show reduced symptoms associated with impulsivity, attention and concentration (Kuo & Taylor, 2004). Green-time appears to promote long-term effects on these executive function domains, and therefore impacting functions related to academic, work, and relationship success. As if this was not enough… being outdoors also promotes an opportunity to engage in unstructured activities, increase communication, and social connectedness (Kuo et al., 1998).  

Accordingly, spending time in nature is a solid investment in our wellbeing! In Ottawa, we are lucky to be surrounded by the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park, so nature is really not that far away! Green-time exercises can include: gardening, finding a calm location at a park and sitting for 20 minutes without access to technology, recording in a journal about seasonal changes, hike on a nature trail, visiting the Arboretum or the gardens at the Horticultural Museum, collecting wild flowers, leaves, pine cones or rocks and bringing them home for an art project. 

While green-time improves attention, and mitigates symptoms of ADHD, it should be used as a supplemental approach to conventional and evidence-based treatment interventions which we provide at Bmindful Psychotherapy and Coaching Centre.

Online Resources:
Child and Nature Network: http://www.childrenandnature.org/
Mood Walks: http://www.moodwalks.ca/about-mood-walks/the-nurture-of-nature-natural-settings-and-their-mental-health-benefits/
Green Cities: Good Health: http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Mental.html

References:

Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 3947-3955.

Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.

Kuo, F. E., & Taylor, F. A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 94(9), 1580-1586.

Kuo, F. E., Sullivan, W. C., & Coley, R. L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 823-851.

ACT on ADHD

We are presenting the ACT on ADHD protocol at the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland

May 16-19, 2017

Presenters: Sonia Tanguay and Zsuzsanna Grandpierre

Our session aims to introduce how combining Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions with compensatory skills training may improve motivation, emotional regulation, task initiation and completion and interpersonal relationships in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The session will provide an overview of common functional limitations and how these affect specific life domains with recommendations for ACT consistent interventions. Additionally, attendees will learn about research findings and effective therapeutic approaches to treat coexisting mental health disorders. Attendees will walk away with practical interventions and tools that can be used in their practice. This session will be both didactic and interactive in nature to promote discussion amongst coaches, counsellors and therapists.

Stay tuned for an update on how our presentation went!

Reach Canada Seminar

Hosted by Reach Canada, join us for a seminar on mindfulness on Thursday, October 20th, 2016. You will be introduced to the history of mindfulness and its fundamental principles. Participants will experience both formal and informal mindfulness. The seminar consists of mindfulness practices, group discussions and educational materials on incorporating mindfulness to daily life. For more information and to register visit the Reach Canada website.

ADHD in College and University

It is not uncommon for students with ADHD to have more difficulty managing their symptoms of ADHD in college or university. They may feel unprepared because they succeeded in high school and faced very few hurdles in the past. By mid-October, students often notice increased worries and difficulties when required to engage in self-regulated and active learning. They face unstructured schedules, multiple deadlines and increased academic demands in reading and writing. Some may have difficulty regulating their attention to tasks that require increased effort. Students present with motivation, attention and procrastination issues which are inevitably interfering with their academic performance. Students in college and university are challenged by new obstacles that may not have been present in their part-time job or high school. They must attempt to adapt to their new environment.

To make a successful transition to college and university, we invite our students and clients to come up with creative ways and strategies to address their roadblocks.  Every student has strengths and the capacity to make changes to their study habits and lifestyles. With a bit of help, students can choose strategies tailored to their learning style and abilities. I recently came upon this great resource by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare: The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home. Have a look and consult it or contact us for further support.

 

Self-Compassion and Adolescents

tulips postSelf-compassion means being kind to yourself when confronted by your shortcomings and struggles. According to Kristen Neff, Researcher, the fundamentals of self-compassion consist of self-kindness, common humanity (acknowledgement that we are not alone) and mindfulness. Recent studies have been investigating self-compassion in adolescents and last year, this particular topic was discussed with high school teachers in Ottawa at an event for students preparing to transition to post-secondary. The topic sparked a dialogue which led to a discussion on the need for adolescents to build resilience when faced with adversity. If you are interested in reading more about self-compassion and teens, read this article published by the Greater Good – The Science of a Meaningful Life. 

 

 

The Beginning of a New Year

photo skiingThe beginning of a new year often brings upon new and old resolutions. Your new intentions can be positive challenges but perhaps this time of year can also be used to reflect on your experiences during the past year and personal values. This may be an opportunity to engage in an introspective exercise and ask yourself – What are my values?.  What is important to me and am I committed to things in my life that are in line with my values?

At first, your list of values can be quite extensive once you start jotting them down. Family, friendships, creativity, generosity, and health are just some examples that may come up. When you feel lost or stuck in your work or personal life, you may realize that your decisions and actions are not consistent with your values. This month, take time to generate a list of your top ten values, talk to someone about it, write them down in a notebook and ask yourself if your values are present in your life. Include these values in your new year’s resolution and in a month from now, see where your values have led you.

Living in the present moment this fall

As soon as September peeks through the warm summer days, it is not uncommon to experience apprehension. We need to get ready for the start of school, routines, new projects, and work responsibilities. The slow pace of the summer quickly dissipates and is replaced with structure, expectations, and commitments. We perceive urgency in many parts of our lives. Unpleasant situations (e.g. traffic, line-ups, and chores) hook us and we sometimes become impatient, tense, agitated and even intolerant. We are in this problem-solving mode and want to accomplish many things as quickly as we can. We are focused on goals and results so we can tackle the new pace of the fall.

What would happen if we would shift our perception of this new season? Could we see it as a process while keeping attuned to how our new work, family and academic responsibilities are hooking us and making us feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and reactive?

Come learn about how mindfulness can help you shift your automatic goal-oriented self to a more present-moment self. See this fall as a new journey and path to living a full life while juggling daily pressures.

Sign up at info@bmindful.ca for an Introduction to Mindfulness on Saturday, September 26th from 9:30 am to 1 pm in Barrhaven.

Welcome to our new website!

We are so excited! Our new website at www.bmindful.ca will now allow us to share with you up to date information about the treatment for anxiety and depression disorders, burnout, ADHD and ASD. We will also regularly provide information about Life and ADHD coaching, mindfulness, self-compassion, and different psychotherapy approaches. Please stay tuned for lots of great posts.