Tips to Adopt Healthy Habits and Create Positive Distractions

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, your survival guide to our crazy-busy, ever-connected modern world hosted by Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert. Dr. Hallowell talks about creating healthy habits and using positive distractions.

Mini Episode 3: You Ask, Ned Answers

healthy habits

DR. HALLOWELL: Hi, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you for joining us for a mini distraction. Like our full length show, these mini episodes will be different every time, only they’ll be shorter. It’s a crazy, busy world and you don’t have a lot of time. We get it. These episodes are for you. Minis might include a few quick tips to help you stay focused or they could be an interesting conversation I had at a coffee shop. Even we can’t predict what we’ll include. Let’s turn to a question that we received through the web site.

Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah, I’m a producer on the show and I’m going to read you the question.


Adopting Healthy Habits

Sarah: All right, Ned. Here we go. The listener writes, “I noticed that with ADHDers there is a great resistance to adopting habits even when they know habits and automatic habits are a lifesaver for them. Once it’s becoming a little like a regular routine they will do something to sabotage it. As if they are free to lose themselves to the habit or to lose their freedom. How do you deal with it when reward and punishment, motivations and consequences don’t work?”

DR. HALLOWELL: Well, learning new habits is hard for anyone, let alone people with ADHD. It can seem like you’re sabotaging yourself, but you’re really not, you’re just reverting to the old habit. The best way of dealing with it that I know is to work with a coach. It’s very hard to do it alone. Work with a coach who can over time help you develop new routines. At first you’ll revert to the old routine, but if you continue and stick with it with the coach you can actually internalize these habits and have them stick.

In my own life, I did this year’s and years ago. I used to chronically lose my car keys. Rather than seeking hypnosis or medication, I decided to simply put a basket next to my front door where I would put my car keys when I got home. At first I wouldn’t put them there. I’d keep them in my pocket or I’d drop them on the floor or I’d lose them as usual. Gradually I trained myself like a dog to put those keys in the basket. If I woke up in the middle of the night and I hadn’t done it, I’d go down and find the keys and put them in the basket.

Gradually over time I developed the new habit of putting the keys in the basket. Well, to this day, the basket is no longer next to the door, it’s over by the kitchen cupboard. I always put my car keys in that basket. As a result, I don’t lose my car keys.

Sarah: All right, we’ve been asking listeners to reach out to us and we have two more questions that came in this week.


Positive Distraction

Sarah: Okay. The listener writes, “Dear Ned, a conversation was overhead where someone said they were going to work because they needed a distraction from family issues at home, which prompted the question can distraction be good for you.”

DR. HALLOWELL: Well, my answer is absolutely yes. If it is taking your mind from something troublesome and redirecting your mind to something productive and enjoyable. What began as a distraction quickly turns into a successful engagement, a successful connection. You can say the distraction is the period of transition. In this case, it’s a marvelous use of a distraction turning into a productive engagement.

Sarah: Okay. The last listener question we got was how do you define distraction.

DR. HALLOWELL: The definition of distraction is anything that takes your mind away from what it’s paying attention to at a given moment. If you are having a conversation with your wife and a sport show comes on the TV that you want to see, the sport show is the distraction. The main thing and the point of trying to think about this is to learn how to be in control of your own attention rather than allowing the sea of distractions in which we live to take control of you and carry you away out to sea away from what matters most.

Sarah: That’s great advice. We got so many great questions this week. Let’s keep those questions coming. Thank you so much.

Closing Statements

DR. HALLOWELL: We will absolutely answer them so please send them in to us. Call us toll free at 844-55-CONNECT or email at [email protected]com or go to our web site at To hear more mini and full length episodes, subscribe to Distraction on iTunes. Thanks for listening.

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, “You Ask, Ned Answers”. Distraction is available on iTunes.


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