Hack Your ADHD Brain By Hosting Body Double Sessions!

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Take Charge Of Your ADHD!

You can beat ADHD overwhelm and achieve your goals by learning how to work with your brain. What works for "everyone else" may not work for you.

Work with me to learn about your ADHD and build the supports you need so that you can have the meaningful life you deserve.

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"Kristin is a uniquely empathetic and creative ADHD coach. She has helped me not only accomplish everyday tasks (like basic self-care!) and big tasks (like my Master’s thesis!), but she has also helped me improve my self-esteem and self-worth. I cannot recommend her highly enough!"

- A.D.

Exercise Now To Get Results Now?

Recently I reread," Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain", by John J. Ratey, MD. I discovered (again?) that brief spurts of vigorous movement can help me overcome a post-lunch brain fog, a temporary drop in motivation, or decision fatigue. Through examples of ongoing (in 2008) research, Dr. Ratey makes a compelling argument for briefly exercising throughout the day to get an immediate increase in the ability to remember or retain information.

This is exciting information because I am very susceptible to the phenomenon of "Now/Not Now." "Now/Not Now" refers to the phenomenon where future needs or benefits do not motivate me to take action, while immediate needs or benefits do. I realize that everyone is like this to some extent, but it is a serious problem for me. I used to have very little motivation to exercise on any particular day because I thought that the benefits, (cardiovascular health, better sleep, healthier weight, etc.) were too far in the future. After all, if the benefits are not for a couple of weeks then why not just start tomorrow? Now that I know that I get immediate benefits, I take several short exercise breaks during the day. This has made it much easier for me to beat brain fog, learn, make decisions, be optimistic, and get started on tasks that I would rather avoid.

How exercise helps the brain

In order to understand how exercise helps the brain, we must first understand that learning requires two important actions. They are:

  1. There must be something to learn or remember how to do.

  2. BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) needs to be released into an area of the brain (the cerebellum) where the neurons needed for memory are created.

Dr. Ratey likens BDNF to "Miracle Grow" for the brain because when neurons are generated in the presence of BDNF, they grow thicker and more profusely. When this happens, they make more connections with other neurons resulting in a healthier brain with stronger memories.

If only there were a pill.

If companies could create a pill that gets the brain to release BDNF in the correct dosage, when and where it is needed, it would be touted as a magical memory aid that makes learning easier and helps to slow age-related cognitive decline. We have something even better than a pill. We can get our brain to release BDNF just by exercising. Whether we are studying (remembering information), remembering how to get somewhere, learning a new instrument or dance step, or listening to our child or spouse tell us about their day, the newly created neurons will help us do it better and will remember more.

My takeaways:

  • Even a little bit of exercise helps and it does so almost immediately

  • Aerobic/anaerobic activity + complex movements = more BDNF

  • Aerobic/anaerobic activity + social interaction = more BDNF

  • Aerobic/anaerobic activity + complex movements + social interaction = most BDNF

  • The immediate benefits include:

    • increased concentration

    • smarter decisions

    • increased motivation

    • better mood

There is a lot more information in the book about what constitutes exercise, and what kinds are best for producing more and stronger neurons. The book is available in print, Kindle, Libby and audio formats. (I found it in my local library)

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Published January 10th 2008 by Little, Brown

Hardcover, 304 pages

John J. Ratey, MD

Hosting Body Doubles (With Friends)

I love having body double sessions with people I know and like because it removes some of the anxiety I can sometimes feel about being judged by others.

The body double concept can work especially well for ADHD brains by providing sufficient interest to initiate and sustain tasks. Interest is the key to working with your ADHD brain.

The sessions take advantage of one of my signature character strengths, "Teamwork". My interest in the task is further increased because I really enjoy being a contributing member of a team. This means it is almost effortless for me to achieve my goals while in a body double session with someone I know and like.

As I write this, I have two regular one-hour body double meetings with two different people.

One is an old friend who does not have ADHD. She enjoys our weekly one-hour body double sessions because we get to visit while getting things done. We (usually) limit ourselves to 5 minutes at the start to check-in with each other and announce our goals. It took some trial and error to get our session routine down, but we always enjoy our visits. We keep 5 minutes available at the end to visit a little after we celebrate our successes.

The other is someone that I first met online through a virtual support group hosted by ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association). She was already very familiar with the body-double concept and had been having body double sessions with others for a while. We already knew what we wanted out of it and were easily able to jump right in.

Every body double session is successful because we always finish by congratulating each other on our efforts while also getting the benefits of connecting with another awesome human. They have brought me great joy and the weekly work has now become something I look forward to. It has become an indispensable part of my ADHD toolkit.


Previous post: "Getting Stuff Done: Have You Tried The Body Double Technique?"

Getting Stuff Done: Have You Tried The Body Double Technique?

Body double sessions have been a game changer for me. I am at my best when I am part of a team, and body double sessions give me that same feeling. Even a team of two is enough to generate my interest. For the ADHD brain, interest is the key to action and maintaining focus.

I first learned about body doubling in 2002 from a book titled, "ADD Friendly Ways to Organize," by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau, PhD. More recently I have heard the concept referred to as "accountability buddy". There are some apps that will help you connect with other people who are looking for accountability, ("Focus Mate" being the one I hear about most frequently).

I've attended some body double sessions that were held by ADHD coaches and others with friends who just want the "accountability" of showing up for a task. It can be a task they don't want to do, or never seem to get around to. The tasks can be boring or repetitive, like paying bills, doing laundry, or exercising, or interesting and rewarding, like working on a hobby.

I prefer to do body double sessions in groups where I already know at least one other person, and especially enjoy it when all the other participants also have ADHD. It has been an easy way to get some needed social contact while getting stuff done.

Some of my favorite sessions have been those that I have hosted. My only criteria when inviting someone is that the person be one-hundred percent accepting of me and my ADHD brain's challenges. There is no room for criticism in an effective body doubling session. In order that all attendees feel safe, confidentiality is also necessary.

Does the body double technique sound interesting to you? Give it a try with someone you trust to be supportive, preferably with someone who also benefits. When that happens, it's an absolute "win-win!"


Note: In my next post I will share what I have learned about hosting my own body double sessions with friends.

What is ADHD coaching?

ADHD coaching is life coaching viewed through an ADHD lens. I help clients identify and then leverage their natural strengths to design a way of living that works for them.

What topics are addressed?

The topics can be anything from immediate, short-term goals to long-term personal growth.

What happens in a typical session?

I partner with you as you learn about how your brain works best and help you create structures so you can reach your goals.

How is an ADHD coach different from a sports coach?

The ADHD coach is your partner. A sports coach is the boss.

Why the Octopus?

Octopuses are extremely smart. They have nine brains, one for each of their eight arms and one for the rest of their body. They often multitask and and are known for their unique and creative solutions to the challenges they face as they survive and thrive in the sea.

Do you have questions about how ADHD coaching works and what my process is like?

Schedule a free 45 minute discovery session with me below


Sessions are designed to be used weekly for 3 weeks per month. They are available in packages of three or nine.

Note: For a limited time, if you agree to have our sessions recorded for my professional development*, there is a reduced rate of $50 per thirty minute session. My standard rate is $125 per forty-five minute session.

* I am working towards a PAAC (Professional Association of ADHD Coaches) certification, and any recordings I submit will be used to evaluate my ADHD coaching skills.