Right now I am at the Attention Deficit Disorder Association’s annual conference, THE conference for adults with ADHD. And I am exhausted. And it’s only the second day. I wonder how many other conference attendees are feeling the same way. So many people. So many decisions. So much to think about. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all great, but sometimes situations can be too much of a good thing.
So how do you survive in a too-much environment, even a wonderful too-much environment, with humor and sanity intact?
Below are my notes to myself that I want to post on my conference brochure, my iPhone, and my hotel room mirror ~ to help me remember what my intentions are for these days.
- Go slow and focus. There are so many sessions I want to go to, so many people I want to talk with, so much information that is rattling around in my brain. I need to remember to sip, not gulp. I will meet lots of cool people, see friends and colleagues, have fascinating conversations, and listen to engaging presentations. But I can only do one thing at a time. So I really need to pay attention to what I am doing now, focusing on who or what is in front of me.
- Take time for self-care. Find a way to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise. It’s worth the time to plan for these things because I will get so much more out of the conference if I do. And if I need to miss a speaker to take some time for myself, go for a walk, take a nap, or whatever it is that will help me be at my best, it’s more than okay. (I can always buy the recordings to the sessions.)
- Give myself permission to be human. Yes, I went down the wrong hallway, lost my key, forgot someone’s name whom I just met. Again. But it’s okay. It really is. Especially at a conference for those with ADHD. If I can’t be myself here, where can I be?
- Stretch myself. I get overwhelmed with big crowds. So it’s fine to engage in meaningful one-on-one conversations with people because that’s who I am – but I will do myself a favor by getting out of my comfort zone, even a little bit. Seeking out maybe just one person I don’t know and introducing myself. Approaching a group of people and joining in the conversation. Gracefully exiting a conversation to meet/greet other people. The point is to do what feels natural – and then stretch myself, even 5%.
- Review what I learned to let it sink in. The overwhelm of a conference can get in the way of remembering all the new information. So I need to take the time at the end of the day to write down the names of the people I met, go over my notes of the sessions I attended, and digest it all. Otherwise, it’s all just a blur of names and faces and words.
- Appreciate. I am so fortunate to be in this situation – listening to and talking with ADHD luminaries, meeting new people who truly “get” ADHD, staying at a lovely venue, learning and laughing and sharing. I need to pause every now and then and drink it in, appreciating the opportunity and savoring it all.
Days filled with good things are wonderful, but they can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to step back a bit and think about your intentions. How can you make the most of the day and the many opportunities for interactions and learning? Setting an intention for what you do – and how you want to do those things – is helpful, especially for those times when the situation has the promise of too much of a good thing.