The Wellness Advantage: Why People with ADHD Should Re-imagine How Willpower Works

In my previous post, we talked about adult ADHD and willpower, including the challenges for ADHD adults who are told to “just do it.”

In order to move beyond the “Just DO it” association with failing will power, people with ADHD especially can pick up some good strategies from Kelly McGonigal’s 3-Part model of will power, “I Will Power, I Won’t Power, and I Want Power.”

Try to re-imagine willpower as a cooperative effort of three parts of the prefrontal cortex. A consideration of health and wellness make this re-imagining preferable to the Self and others yelling, “Just DO it” time and time again.

Here’s one advantage:

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The Wellness Advantage – There is no “yelling” in using will power when the prefrontal cortex is engaged and has access to sufficient glucose.

Glucose can be easily depleted by distraction, repression of impuslivity, fear of failure and other stressors. Roy Baumeister tells us, in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, running out of glucose exhausts the capacity to use willpower.

People with ADHD, then, are at a disadvantage here, being frequently distracted, prone to impulsivity, fearing judgment and other failure possibilities.

However…

  • If there’s no yelling, there’s less stress.
  • If there’s less stress, there’s more glucose available to the prefrontal cortex to use for willpower.
  • If there’s more glucose and less stress, the parts of the brain involved in willpower have a much easier time communicating and synchronizing.
  • If the brain has better access to neurotransmitters that engage focus and concentration (like dopamine and norepinephrine), and feelings of safety and calm, (like serotonin and oxytocin), the stress hormones (glucocorticoids) are suppressed throughout the whole body.
  • If there are fewer stress hormones coursing through the rest of the body, there is less inflammation and less need for insulin to spike.
  • Less inflammation and fewer insulin spikes reduces the risk of metabolic syndromes (high blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, diabetes, and coronary artery disease).

Wow!  Better pick up some tips and hints on how to engage “I Will Power, I Won’t Power, and I Want Power ” for wellness’ sake alone.

Next time:  A Plan for What to Do

 

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