Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Build Resilience Through Exercise

Exercise is known to be important. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health as well as building and maintaining physical strength and flexibility. But exercise has also recently been found to have far reaching and very positive effects on our brains. It’s something that we can, and should, use to our advantage.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health as well as building and maintaining physical strength and flexibility. But exercise has also recently been found to have far reaching and very positive effects on our brains. It’s something that we can, and should, use to our advantage.
In a wonderful book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D., the literal effects of exercise on the human brain are beautifully demonstrated. They show our abilities to be more and more self-directed in all things we pursue, especially in relation to our focus, mood, memory or when dealing with stress.
Essentially, exercise has been proven to help build resilience.
The beauty of exercise lies in its variety; there is something for everyone. In working with my clients it is apparent that each person needs to decide what form/s of exercise appeal to them. Yes, you can actually enjoy exercise!
The key is finding what works for you.
It might be team sports, such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, football, etc. Or it might be playing against a single person, as in tennis. Or you may just enjoy your own company or that of others while bike riding, walking, running, practicing yoga, etc. Perhaps it’s working out at the gym, or taking a dance class.
Try it out. Mix it up. Give a chance to any kind of exercise that appeals to you. Play around with the amount of time you exercise, be it a daily 10-minute session or a weekly 2-hour one.
Once you find an exercise routine that works for you, begin tracking its effects on your body, your mind, and your life. I’m sure you’ll begin seeing a change very quickly. Take note of your mood before and after you exercise, as well as your overall mood a day prior and after your workout.
Are you uninspired by any of my suggestions? Check out this article by the NYTimes to find inspiration!
How has exercise changed your mood and resilience? Share your story with me in the comments or at barbaralipscomb@gmail.com!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Build Resilience Through Diet

Have you ever noticed that if you eat something “unhealthy,” you don’t feel great? For example, if you’re eating gluten when your body is sensitive to it, you may experience exhaustion. Or, if you’re unused to consuming dairy, you might get bloated.
Even more than feeling tired or bloated, your diet has a huge impact on your entire body, including your mental health. Research has shown a direct relationship between the gut and the brain. In fact, the gut is now being called the second brain. Eating has been proven to affect your mood and executive functions.
When you don’t eat well, you don’t deal with life’s curveballs well either. Your resilience takes a hit.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the food you eat and your overall mental health including your propensity towards depression.
The eating options available to us today are mind-boggling. You can be a vegetarian, a vegan, eat paleo, keto, raw, gluten-free or, basically, anything under the sun.
How do you determine what is best for you? What can you do when you have so many choices?
Finding what’s right for you.
I don’t have the answer to that question, but here are some options people have tried:
  • Track your food & mood! No one has a better answer to what makes you tick than you. In order to understand how various ingredients you ingest affect you. It is very useful to track yourself.Keep a food & mood journal. As you eat, jot down what foods you ingest, your mood before eating, perhaps your mood after eating, any physical symptoms, emotional responses, etc.Don’t know where to start? Here are two printable food & mood trackers that you may use: check out the journal from the Personal Nutrition Guide or from Medi Health.
  • The Whole 30 The Whole 30 is an elimination diet that, as its name indicates, lasts all of 30 days. During this time, you’re eliminating what are considered to be “inflammation-causing” foods, such as processed foods, refined sugar (and all alternative sweeteners), gluten, and dairy, while ingesting mainly “whole” foods. What this means is that, instead of having a smoothie, you’re encouraged to eat the fruits that would be used for the smoothie.This diet will allow you to actively observe both the impact of such a radical shift in eating habits as well as your body’s true reaction to eating the foods that are normally part of your diet.
  • Change your eating schedule Intermittent Fasting is a current dietary fad, but one that has had proven results on both the physical and mental health of many of its converts. Many intermittent fasters have reported increased mental focus at the height of their fast, as well as normalized sleeping schedules and more overall energy.The fasting schedule can vary greatly for each person, from eating every day within a 6-, 8-, or 10-hour window to fasting 24 hours and eating normally the rest of the time.Be careful! Fasting might be a proven path to good health, but it involves eating the right foods to succeed.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. Keep in mind that these are suggestions and that if you have any health issues, you should consult with your doctor before experimenting with your diet. However, if you want help and support in exploring these options, feel free to reach out to me to book a consultation at barbaralipscomb@gmail.com.

On that note, here are 2 things that have helped my clients in the past, and that you can do today:
  • Drink more water Did you know that the average healthy intake of water is anywhere between and 3 liters per day? Now, ask yourself: how much water have you been drinking? Dehydration, caused by a lack of water intake, has been proven to cause “unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones.” So start downing some more of that liquid clarity! It’ll make an almost immediate difference if you don’t usually drink enough.
  • Eat less sugar Studies have shown that processed or added sugars increase the risk of health issues, namely heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Much of the excess caloric intake in the average American comes from added sugars. In fact, about one in ten people get their caloric intake from added (or processed) sugars!Cutting back on your sugar intake can make a huge difference on both your physical and your mental health. If you’re craving something sweet, have a fruit!
   Bon app├ętit!
Has this advice helped you regain focus and resilience? If so, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment or send me an email at barbaralipscomb@gmail.com to share your story.

Build Resilience Through Sleep

AD/HD and other executive functioning skill challenges can be seen as dysregulations in our systems. In addition to each of our innate challenges, we live in a complex and fast-paced world that can also be seen as dysregulated and is often further dysregulating. Together, these present unique circumstances for each of us.
It is easy to react to the things happening in and around us and difficult to learn to respond with more awareness and sensitivity. In coaching, we often work on learning to be more and more proactive in our lives as we look for places where, and ways in which we have input into the systems that we are.
How may we intervene? What might we create? What can we do to have an impact on the ways we feel, or in the manners in which we function? How may we help ourselves succeed?
The good news is that there are many ways and places where each of us can intervene to create more ease, happiness, creativity, success, fun, etc., in our lives and the lives of those we love.
In working with people over the past decade, I have come to see that it is extremely useful for people to build resilience into their systems so they may face and manage the inevitable challenges of life in addition to teaching and working on strengthening the executive functioning skills.
So, how do we “build resilience” into our systems? The areas we address in this effort are sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation and/or medication and relationships.


I call sleep the kingpin, or the cornerstone in terms of building resilience into our systems. Everything begins with, and is much better when we have had a good night’s sleep. One of my favorite talks on this topic is a Ted Talk by Russel Foster, a circadian neuroscientist. He details the importance of sleep and exemplifies what happens when we lack the sleep necessary for our systems. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWULB9Aoopc

 So, what can you do if sleep is a challenge?

  1. Set specific and consistent sleep and wake-up times that you adhere to daily. Be sure that these times encompass the number of hours you need to sleep, usually at least eight hours.
  2. If you use electronic devices after dark, install flux on your computer and Night Shift on your phone to dim the blue light on the screen in order not to interfere with the melatonin production in your brain.
  3. Turn off all technology 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed.
  4. Establish a soothing nighttime routine that does not include technology, i.e., read a book, write in a journal, meditate, take a hot bath, listen to calming music or whatever else feels right for you.
  5. Set an alarm and get out of bed when it goes off. Don’t snooze!
Establishing and maintaining a sleep routine is challenging, so give yourself time. Play around with your routine until you find what works for you. Hopefully, sooner than later you will be waking up refreshed on a daily basis.

What kind of routine has worked for you? I’d love to hear your take on this, whether in the comments or by email at barbaralipscomb@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Summer... AGAIN! :)

3 tips for seasonal transitions

Summer can be an amazing time to rest and relax without having to worry about the myriad details of busier times of the year. 
Summer is also a time of disrupted routines, changes in responsibilities, school vacations, travels and the like. 
Summer and the leisure it brings, can also be a time of stress. We often think, "What am I supposed to do with myself?!" And, panic ensues.

Instead of panicking, try any of these 3 tips to help tackle your summer transitions head-on: 

  1. Start (and finish!) a personal project. Downtime during the summer is the perfect opportunity to focus on you. Is there something that you've wanted to do but just haven't had the time? Well, now you do! Go write, paint, draw, create, design, decorate, clean, play or any other project you've been putting off for lack of time.
  2. Establish a daily routine. With less things than in a normally full schedule, summer is the perfect time to develop new habits! A daily routine can be something as small as a 5-minute meditation session every morning upon waking. It can also be more elaborate, such as a detailed workout or morning routine. Just make it daily!
  3. Build resilience through rest and nutrition. With greater resilience, you'll have greater adaptability to life's challenges. Having a good night's sleep and eating healthy food have been proven to help with your mood. What does that look like for you? Explore that over the summer.  
Do you feel like you can't go it alone? I'm here to help!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What a Summer!

We have certainly had an interesting summer.  Thanks to our two political conventions and the Olympics in Rio, there was plenty to keep our attentions occupied and our emotions reeling.  Though this happens every four years, I never get used to the excitement of it all, the highs and lows are continually mesmerizing.  Whether you paid particular attention to any of these things or they were simply background fodder, fall is nearly upon us.  Kids are returning to school and families and individuals are making their ways back to some semblance of schedules and more consistent routines.  Hopefully, it will be a smooth transition for all.
Though most of us have grand plans for transitioning seamlessly, it is most useful to take things one step at a time and establish small, concrete achievable steps to get where we desire.  In this age of information overload, multi-tasking and demands coming at us from a variety of directions, here are some simple things to help as we make our ways to an autumn worth remembering.
1.    Take time out for self care every day.
Whether this means sitting quietly, meditating, reading or taking a walk, it’s important to schedule time to give your system an opportunity to settle and integrate the daily goings on.  Put this on your calendar as you do everything else.
2.    UNPLUG!

Turn off your cell phone, tablet and computer on a regular basis daily.  You choose the length of time.  You choose the time of day.  Enough said.

3.    Be grateful.

Each night, write down three things you are grateful for and three things you did well that day.  This will help shift you into being able to see all you DO, instead of maintaining your focus on the things you have not yet accomplished.

4.    Take a few minutes at the end of every day to reorganize yourself and your things –calendar, brief case, back pack, etc.-- in preparation for the next day.  Taking these few minutes every night will insure a smooth start each morning and will set you up for continuing success.

I wish you well in the weeks and months ahead.  Please let me know if I may help.

Barbara. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trusting Towards a Meaningful New Year! January 2016

Now that the dust is settling, and we are able to look towards 2016 with more equanimity and less through the lens of the highs and lows of holiday emotion, it’s a good time to contemplate what you would like to affect in the coming year.

As a coach, I have the pleasure of working with and witnessing people as they learn to self-regulate and move their lives in directions of their choosing.  This is a challenge for many of us, and especially for people dealing with AD/HD and/or issues of executive functioning.  The ability to make changes to affect future outcomes happens slowly, over time and with support.  It is moving and informative to observe people throughout the process of coaching and to aid and be a part of each individual’s growth.  At any time I have the pleasure of working with people who are just beginning the coaching process (brave and hopeful), people who are in the thick of it, so to speak(frustrated, yet tenacious), and others who are completing projects and/or the coaching process itself (satisfied and proud).

It takes a lot of courage to truly engage in a coaching relationship.  It also takes strength, tenacity, patience and a lot of trust in the process: trust in your coach, trust in yourself and trust in the unique relationship we will develop to be able to affect change in your life.

Coaching is a highly individualized process.  Following are stories of a few of the clients who I have had the great fortune and pleasure to work with as a coach:

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2016!
Barbara. :) 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day; teach a woman to fish and you feed her for a lifetime."

Samantha left the security of home to find her way in the world.  Her parents understood and believed in her.  Like so many people with ADHD, she was smart and artistically gifted, but she needed assistance in pulling it all together.  Even though they were thousands of miles away, they recommended and sponsored coaching.

Samantha’s daily life had fallen apart in the year-and-a-half prior to our meeting.  She had moved 2,000 miles from where she had grown up, leaving her parents and immediate support network.  Samantha was trying to establish her independent, adult life for the first time.

We began meeting when she was thirty-four years old.  Samantha is intellectually gifted, has a Bachelor’s Degree and, as she described it, a “nearly completed” Master’s Degree.  It’s not unusual for people dealing with AD/HD and other executive functioning challenges to have “nearly completed” many of the things they set out to do and truly want to accomplish.

When we met, Samantha was living in a tiny, roach-infested apartment in a less-than-desirable part of Los Angeles.  It was all she was able to afford.  In truth, she could not even afford that.  Her parents were paying her bills so that she would not end up on the streets.  Samantha and her parents had the foresight to understand that she needed to develop skills if she was to become independent.  They sought coaching as a way to address Samantha’s needs.

Samantha is a gifted designer.  Her goal was, and remains, to have her own, very successful business.  Early in our relationship, Samantha realized she needed to pay her day-to-day bills before she could set up her own company.  She understood that “food on the table and a roof over her head” were essential foundations upon which to build her business and her life.

 Samantha had one big obstacle to getting, in her words, “a full time job.”  “I can not get a full time job because as much as I try, I can not work forty hours a week or be somewhere at 9:00 every morning.”  I told Sam about shift work, “Many businesses have flexible and/or changing schedules, many people work 2-10, 3-11, and other shifts that begin later in the day, many people do not work forty hours a week.”  She lit up; Samantha had never known about anything other than the standard 9-5 workdays and forty-hour workweek.

Once aware of the possibility of finding a job in which she could work hours in harmony with her physical and mental alertness, we set about defining Samantha’s strengths, those things she gravitated to, enjoyed, was good at, and wanted to utilize and offer in her work.

In addition to her keen intelligence and flair for design, Samantha had strong skills in everything related to building and repairing houses.  Yes, her skills ran the gamut!  Initially, she considered having her own business as a handywoman, but realized early on that this presented her with the same challenges of beginning her design business.  It lacked structure, a sense of community and steady income.

Though the idea initially took getting used to, Samantha decided to look for a job, something she had not previously considered with any seriousness.  At first, locating jobs that utilized the skill set she wanted to offer and a schedule she was able to meet presented challenges.  Though it took time, tenacity and courage, she set up and attended a series of job interviews.  Some went better than others.  She learned things about herself and the world of work with each experience.  A few months down the road, Samantha found an excellent retail position using her skills.

Samantha has been at her job for over a year.  She lives in a beautiful house with two roommates, works 36 hours a week and does work exchange for studio space where she works on her design business three nights every week.
With the support of her parents and her amazing tenacity, Samantha has firmly established her independent, adult life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Autumn Resilience

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, how do we move from “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” (Nat King Cole) to the to-do lists that autumn requires?  Whether we are returning home from actual vacations or simply getting back to the routines of daily life necessitated by resuming work, creative and/or school responsibilities, how can we help ourselves as we head into this new season?
People often seek out coaching to improve their productivity by learning and enhancing their abilities to manage time, tasks, materials and space, establish routines, follow through on and complete chosen or assigned projects.  Most people have the desire and often need to bring more order to their lives.  They want to feel a sense of choice in what they are doing, to feel more in charge and not so out of control.  Together in our coaching sessions, we spend time making sense of what it is they are doing or want to be doing.  We categorize things, create to-do lists, establish schedules and routines and document calendars, set timers and alarms and work on accountability.  We address the obstacles to chosen goals and create conditions for success.  This is a challenging, dynamic, interesting and fun process requiring tenacity and hard work.
With all of this concentration on creating and implementing our to-do lists we often overlook the important steps necessary to build the strength and resilience necessary “to-do” all we desire. 
As we work on the to-do lists in coaching, it is essential that we also build the strength and resilience necessary for everyone –and especially for those dealing with AD/HD and other executive functioning challenges— to deal with the details of daily life and the inevitable changes and challenges we encounter.
The six elements we remain mindful of as we build strength and resilience are:
1.    Sleep

2.    Nutrition

3.    Exercise

4.    Meditation

5.    Medication

6.    Relationships/ Support
Much has been written about each of these, and the links shared below are only a beginning.  As we work to establish the practices necessary to create strength and resilience, a fluid ebb and flow between the to-do and the to-be in our lives emerges.  Everything gets easier!
I wish you all ease of transition to this beautiful autumn season.

 Recommended Resources:


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

“He graduated? Ivy League? I thought he had AD/HD?”

Adults with ADHD can lead lives filled with accomplishment.  With a skill set tailored to address particular needs or situations, career and life success can be achieved.  Coaching can assist an individual with ADHD to learn new skills and overcome daily distractions and challenges.
Michael’s father, Pete, called me one January afternoon.  He was distraught as he described how his youngest son, now 20 years old, had been kicked out of an Ivy League college for failing classes during his sophomore year.  Pete was clear that he and his wife wanted Michael to return to the college and complete his degree.  He let me know that Michael was currently enrolled in rigorous courses at the junior college close to their home where he needed to earn A’s and B’s even as his Ivy League school would not give him credit for the course work.  Pete and his wife had placed Michael on a contract and these classes were just one part of what he needed and agreed to accomplish.  Now, Pete was asking me to coach his son so that Michael could learn the necessary skills to earn his way back to the college he’d been asked to leave and succeed there once he did so.
“Does Michael want to return,” I asked?  Pete assured me that he did.  I set up a meeting with Michael and his parents and learned of this young man’s astonishing motivation to, indeed, return to the school.  Despite the strict guidelines the college and his parents had established, Michael was never deterred.  He had an honest desire to work with me in coaching and was open to learning all kinds of new ways of being and approaching his studies and other responsibilities.
I learned that Michael had been private school educated at a small K-12 school in Los Angeles where the teacher to student ratio was high.  As such, even though he had been diagnosed with AD/HD during elementary school, he earned excellent grades in the small, attentive and structured school and with the consistent support of his family.
What happened to Michael at the Ivy League school is common.  Being 18 years old and on his own 3,000 miles from home offered a bit too much freedom and too little structure for him to manage.  Michael was easily swept into the familiar temptations of dorm and fraternity life.  Amidst socializing and having fun, Michael quickly fell behind in his course work.  He had no way to keep up or catch up with his studies on his own.  He needed the attention, support and structure so available in his small school and at home.  He needed others to remind him to take his AD/HD medication and of what he needed to accomplish each evening.  Mostly, Michael needed to internalize the systems and structures he had relied on others to provide.
Michael returned to the college he had been asked to leave. Slowly, over time and with support Michael became adept at breaking all of his school and life responsibilities into small, concrete, achievable steps, documenting these on his calendar and following through with his plan.  Michael learned to look ahead and to manage multiple tasks and deadlines simultaneously.  He learned to say, “No,” to things that jeopardized his academic success and to socialize at particular times and in moderation.
After two summers and two academic years, Michael graduated from his Ivy League school.  He presently works in the field he majored in and continues to mature in all aspects of his life.
Michael was and is open, honest, and fun.  I was thrilled that he allowed me to coach him and help him succeed.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Time Management: Even Successful Attorneys Need Help

Many people associate ADHD with childhood learning disabilities.  Few understand that, until one learns the skills necessary to address particular needs, ADHD often sabotages work and career success.  Coaching is a way to learn new skills within the context of a safe and supportive relationship.

Bob was in his mid sixties when we began working together.  He was terrified when he first called, as he had just been written up and put on “probation” at the large and prestigious law firm where he had worked for over a decade.  Bob’s immediate challenges were in the area of time management.  Though he had extraordinary strengths in creating and maintaining relationships with extremely high-end clients, his abilities to manage his time to meet the needs of his impressive number of clients and simultaneously complete the billing practices necessary at the law firm were in need of serious help.
It was easy to understand why Bob was struggling with time management and billing documentation.  Once Bob detailed his overall responsibilities as well as the billing practices required at law firms, it became evident that multitudes of executive functioning skills were required to do his job well.
I asked Bob to describe how he spent his time each workday.  It was immediately clear that much of his time was taken up by meeting other people’s needs.  As an empathic person, the same qualities that allowed him to create and maintain relationships with his clients were undermining Bob’s ability to manage time and remain on task.
Bob was extremely responsive to the needs of others.  He took telephone calls and responded to emails willy-nilly.  Bob loved mentoring and was readily sought out by younger colleagues.  A quick analysis of his daily schedule revealed a lack of planning as well as far too much time and energy spent on these tasks.
We created a system for addressing emails and telephone calls.  Bob responded to these the first thing each morning, immediately after lunch, and just before leaving the office every evening.  He was open to meeting with younger colleagues at particular times each week and kept his interactions to limited amounts of time.  Finally, we created a billing log for Bob to complete while working on cases and a time at the end of each week when he would transfer this information to the proper format for his firm.
After some time and with much courage, willingness, tenacity and effort, Bob was removed from probation.
I was honored to work with such a brilliant, successful client and so happy to see him flourish in his career.