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Regulating Our ADHD Nervous System

Updated: Mar 24

Join me in this episode as I sit with Tracy Otsuka. We talk about the basics of Polyvagal theory and the Safe and Sound Protocol, uncovering how a dysregulated nervous system affects our ADHD symptoms. From understanding neuroplasticity to boosting confidence and practising mindfulness, we cover it all. Don't miss out on valuable concepts for nervous system regulation and enhancing your well-being! Listen to the podcast here:

Regulating Our ADHD Nervous System

"We can change our brain and we can change how we feel as well, and we can change how we act, but first, we need to change some identity we have built for ourselves. We need to shift that, okay? What does that mean? I love that our conscious brain (5%) and our subconscious brain (95%) are aligned. "

If we have beliefs that are formed through Early Childhood that we're not good at something, we need to get rid of all the conditioning before we make the shift to believe in ourselves. Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, John F Kennedy, Mozart, Michael Jordan, Will Smith... that sounds like a list of highly successful titans in a variety of vocations. Why is it that we rarely hear that they have or had ADHD? And you know what we hear even less about? Serena Williams, Emma Watson, Mel Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, Agatha Christie, Erin Brockovich, Cher... yeah, the successful women navigating ADHD. And that's exactly why I started this podcast, ADHD for smartass women. I'm your host, Tracy Otsuka. I'm a lawyer, not a doctor, a lifelong student, now a coach. I'm also the creator of "Your ADHD Brain is a Boss," a system that helps people like you figure out what they should do with their life. And we're here today to talk ADHD: your strengths, your symptoms, your workarounds, and how you proudly stand out instead of trying to fit in. I credit my ADHD for some of my greatest gifts, and you know what? I spy a happier life for you too. So, without further ado, a shiny new episode is starting now.

Hello, I am your host, Tracy Otsuka. Thank you so much for joining me here for episode number 238 of ADHD for smartass women. I hope that you'll subscribe to this podcast and our newsletter over at My purpose, as you know, is always to show you who you are and then inspire you to be it. In the thousands of ADHD women that I have had the privilege of meeting, I've never met a one that isn't brilliant at something, truly not one. So, for all of these reasons, I am just delighted to introduce you to Anna. Anna, did I get the last name right?

You did.

Okay. Anna is an ADHD executive function and high-performance coach, mentor, and psychologist based in London. She coaches people with ADHD using holistic and neuroscience-based strategies specifically designed for neurodiverse people to maximize happiness, confidence, and performance. She's also a member of the British Psychological Society and the European Coaching and Mentoring Council. In 2021, Anna was selected at the 500 Global Brains Awards as one of the top leaders for her achievements and dedication to helping others. Anna, did I get all of that right?

Thank you for having me, Tracy. Yes, you did.

Wonderful. Before we talk about your strategies and exactly what you do to help women with ADHD, you know I always want to talk about ADHD first. So, I would love to know, what were you like as a child?

As a child, I was very shy, very self-conscious, socially anxious. I had good traits as well, but at school, I was struggling to pay attention. I was constantly looking out of the window. I found it so difficult to concentrate and boring. Yes, it took me double the time to finish an essay. I found it difficult to put my ideas into paper, to organize them. And yes, it was a different way of thinking for me, and yeah, I found that a bit stressful, especially when it came to exams.

Were you outwardly hyperactive at all, or was it mostly inattentive?

Okay, it sounds like school was somewhat difficult for you, but were you still able to make high marks?

I did. As you know, a lot of people with traits of ADHD are very good when they put their mind into it. So, the subjects and the teachers I loved, I was very good. But the subjects and the teachers that were not very engaging, I did not do very well. But it was a spiky profile based on how much I enjoyed the lesson.

Ah, well, it sounds very common, doesn't it?

Yes, and you're in the UK, so I don't exactly know how the school system works there. I'm curious, did things get better from what we call grade school here through high school, or did it get worse? Did it get harder for you?

It got better through time because I discovered strategies to organize myself, having schedules, checklists. I tried different methods that worked at a particular time, and then I chose something different. But it got better with time because we can also train our brain to work in the way that we wanted to, yeah, in a way that works for us, certainly. So, I'm wondering, what was your home life like? Were your parents really supportive, or did you get a lot of "why are you this way?"

Yeah, I had a lot of pressure from home. I was a perfectionist. So, yes, I tried to do my best, but yes, I had supportive parents, but in a way that they understand, you know, parents have their own understanding, and sometimes it's not aligned with the latest psychological research, and there is a... I had moments at home because I was very stressed about my performance at school. But yes, I did very well at the end, but it was a roller coaster, I cannot lie. Your parents, and I'm sure teachers, the attitude was, "Well, she's so bright, she's not applying herself, so it must mean that she's not trying hard enough."

Yes, she's not trying hard enough. She finds her own way to do things. She takes a different time to finish something, and very fast to finish something else. So, it really depends. They could not pinpoint exactly, but yes, they said that I was losing attention, but at the same time, that I was very smart in the things that were really engaging for me.

What did your parents do as a profession for work?

Banker and accountant. Okay, yeah, so very linear brain.

Yes, exactly. And a lot of pressure. And I guess, you know, our own parents have their own upbringing and their own ways of how they think things are, and they need to do their own healing in order to have a proper approach. And it's a difficult thing, you know, I understand that.

Yes, exactly. And are you an only child?

I have a sister.

Okay. And was she the same as you or no?

She was more like them. She was more like them, but she's a high performer as well. And she was like the first in the school, the first in her class, and also a perfectionist and high achiever. So, yes, I was more artistic, creative. My sister was more mathematical, practical.

And was your sister older?

Younger. One year younger.

Okay, okay. So, I'm curious, what was the transition then from high school to college like for you?

Slow. I didn't like university. I started the university in Greece, in Athens. I studied education. I'm a qualified teacher as my first profession. I wanted to do things...

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