As I mentioned in previous posts, I am reading a book by John Ratey, M.D., about exercise and all of the benefits to the brain. There is a part in the book about stress, with a specific header on ‘Focus’, and of course it particularly caught my eye as I am always looking for insights into how to improve focus. What he wrote surprised me.
So in a fight or flight stress response (i.e. when we completely procrastinate), he explains that the hormonal rush of epinephrine focuses the body, increasing the heart rate and blood pressures and dilates the bronchial tubes of the lungs so that you can get more oxygen to your muscles. The epinephrine binds to muscle spindles, so muscles tense. Your blood vessels contract and your body releases endorphins to blunt the pain. These endorphins feel good.
There are two neurotransmitters in our brains that help get us ready for this flight or fight response — norepinephrine, which arouses our attention, and dopamine, which then focuses our attention. Unfortunately, us ADHDers have an imbalance of these hormones.
So in order to compensate for this, we procrastinate so that we are able to focus. We wait for the norepinephrine and dopamine to flood our system. THEN we can finally focus! Makes a lot of sense.
There are some big challenges to this, namely:
- Often times we procrastinate and it affects those around us.
- We can be seen as people that ’cause problems,’ because we have a need for stress.
- When things are going too well in our lives, we can tend to ‘create’ problems because we like the fix from the brain chemicals.
I know more than anyone this is true. I’ve lived it. The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that we recognize it, keep an eye out for times when we may be doing it, and balance those neurotransmitters in a healthier way.