Over the past several years, I have spent many hours reading, researching and experimenting with natural, homeopathic remedies for pretty much any ailment I could think of. My family has moved so much into the natural direction, that we rarely, if ever, use over-the-counter or prescription medicines. That said, I am not anti-western medicine at all. I believe both homeopathic and modern medicine work hand in hand. But, I always go with the natural choice first–change up our diet, increase our physical activity and reach for homeopathic aids before turning to pharmaceutical help. Most of the time, these methods work with little to no side effects, and we don’t need to go to the doctor or pharmacy.
In recent years, some of my children have exhibited signs of ADD and Anxiety. Because I have always felt that drugs (pharmaceuticals) are a last resort, I have tried many things to help my children focus better at school, gain more confidence and enjoy life as children should.
The following techniques and products have worked wonders for me and my kids.
A clean, whole food balanced diet is incredibly helpful with focus and anxiety. Avoid red dye at all costs. Reduce sugar as much as you can. Avoid “low fat” or “diet” products such as low fat or skim milk. These tend to have more added sugar than full fat versions. Eat lots of fruits and veggies, lots of protein and whole grains. Some medical professional recommend a gluten free diet to help with ADHD. While, I’ve heard of many people having success with this, I am not an advocate of cutting out any food groups. A well balanced diet, to me, if the best way to go.
This website has a list of foods and brands that contain red dye. Basically try to avoid boxed or packaged food as much as possible.
Surprised? I’m sure you’re not. I am a big advocate of exercise and health. People! It’s not just about weight loss! Exercise, in any form that raises your heart rate and engages the muscles, increases circulation, oxygenates the muscles and focuses and clears the mind. In addition, it increases endorphin (I like to call these the Happy Hormones) levels, reduces cortisol (stress hormones), and aid the body in immune function. I could talk all day about the benefits of exercise. Especially in children. Your kids don’t need to hit the gym every day. But send them outside to play! Running around, playing tag, hanging from the monkey bars, riding their bikes, playing sports. All these things help to focus the mind. Even just wiggling their fingers or simple stretches can help kids focus while they sit in their chairs at school.
Two years ago, my son was in an experimental 3rd grade class room, in which the entire class sat on exercise balls instead of chairs. There were a very distinct set of rules (no bouncing off the ball, etc) that the students had to follow and it was incredibly positive experience for my son. Just that little tiny opportunity to wiggle a little bit as he worked at school helped his focus immensely. I personally think all elementary classrooms should have this.
This is great little article about exercises that can help focus the mind:
3) Mental exercise
Read! Duh. Kids these days (and admittedly, adults, too) are so tethered to their electronic devices. Myself included. We like instant gratification. We want to be entertained. Imagination? What’s that?
When I was a kid, I loved to lose myself in a good book. I will never forget the day, when I was around 11, when my Mom laid “The Little House on the Prairie” in my hands and sent me off to read. I became so engrossed in the story, I finished the whole series. After that I loved to read. I loved to paint the picture of the story in my mind. If I wasn’t reading, I was outside with my sisters or friends, playing school, playing house, pretending to be princesses, pretending to be robots. Whatever it was, we were using our imaginations.
Using your imagination, whether to picture what you are reading in your head, playing pretend, or creating something improves memory, cognitive skill, focus and self-satisfaction.
Music! Another gift my parents gave me was the ability to play piano. Listen to it, play it, hear it, sing it, enjoy it, feel it. Learning a musical instrument takes discipline, focus, memory, physical and mental endurance and establishes confidence in children. Additionally, there have been studies (I’m too lazy to look them up — I probably have ADD or something–but I’ve read them) that have shown increased cognitive development in babies who listened to classical music while in the womb and as newborns. This effect does not go away after infancy. Listen to uplifting music. Classical music is brain music, but hey, I love a good beat. This is a great way to combine mental and physical exercise. Pop in your headphones with your favorite song and jam out! Exercise the mind and body. Done and Done!
Some other ways to exercise the mind: do a puzzle, play a memory game, read to a younger sibling or child aloud, draw or color a picture, make a craft, bake cookies! The list of possibilities is endless. Get creative.
4) Natural Supplements
Below is a list of products I use for myself and my family. They work great for us. Not all minds are created equally. We all have difference chemical balances and different reactions to different remedies. It may take some experimentation and tweaking. This recipe works for me, but it’s not set in stone. It can be changed to accommodate specific needs.
Multivitamins, Fish Oil Supplements
An L-tyrosine Amino acid supplement is another great natural way to increase mental clarity, memory and focus. This one, however, I recommend using sparingly. For example, I have Graves disease–an over active thyroid. Even though my thyroid has been nuked, I take a hormone replacement supplement. L-tyrosine has been known to increase thyroid function (good news for people with Hashimotos or hypothyroid). Because of this, I need to be careful as to no overstimulate my thyroid. Consult with your doctor if you have a thyroid condition before taking this supplement.
As with any health aid, please consult your doctor or health care professional before trying any of the above remedies.
Sorry if this is information overload. Obviously I’m passionate about this! I hope some or all of this info is helpful to you!