May 9, 2023
Strategies for Living Well with ADHD
Our brains are amazing. Still, they don’t all work in exactly the same way. The differences make the world richer. They spark creativity that has driven innovation and art throughout history.
For the more than eight million adults diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), their brains do work differently. With ADHD, it’s easy to daydream and hard to pay attention. An overly active mind makes it harder to control impulses. It’s easier to act without thinking.
Usually diagnosed in childhood (often before the age of 12), no one outgrows it. ADHD can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be managed. Still, there are plenty of people who haven’t let ADHD slow them down one bit.
Would you be surprised to learn that Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, John Lennon, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Emma Watson and plenty of other house-hold names thrived with ADHD?
Yes, at times, ADHD can make every day living and work difficult. You have to make peace with it. If you live with the condition, here’s some good news. There are simple things you can do every day to help reduce and control some of its most challenging symptoms—staying on task, remembering things, daydreaming, losing things, time management and following instructions.
Start with these tips.
Quiet your mind. Practice mindfulness to control impulses and emotions. Carve out a time each day for just you. Shut out distractions and meditate. Focus on your breathing.
Clear away the clutter. Remove distractions by throwing or giving away items you don’t need. Organize the things you use on a daily basis. Neatly store the others away. Everything should have a place.
Get organized. Create a daily routine and stick with it. Divide your day into blocks of time. Make a to-do list of tasks for each block. Check them off as you complete them.
Do it now, not later. Make this your mantra. It’s easier to stay on top of things rather than play catch up. Return phone calls and clean up messes right away. Procrastination only fuels chaos.
Prioritize, prioritize. Avoid jumping from task to task without finishing anything. Ask yourself what needs to get done first. Break big tasks into smaller steps. Focus until its completed.
Lock directions in your brain. Repeat them back to the person who gave them. Saying them out loud helps make them stick. Underline sections if the instructions are in writing.
Tame sensory overload. Wear noise-canceling headphones. Arrange your workspace so it faces a wall. Limit the number of open tabs on your computer screen. Hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
Step away from tech. Log out of email and social media for a bit each day. In fact, consider going offline completely. Let voicemail pick up calls and don’t text. Focus on the immediate instead.
Give yourself a break. Change things up when your mind switches off. Go for a short walk. Refuel with a healthy snack. Go back to your task with renewed focus.
Make friends with time. Wear a wristwatch. Place clocks where you spend a lot of time. Set a timer for tasks. Use an app to set reminders and stay on schedule.
Go paperless. Minimize the amount of paper in your life. Request electronic statements and bills. Switch to online banking. Set up automatic deposits and bill pay to simplify your finances.
Clip impulse spending. Cut up all your credit cards except one. Pay with cash instead. Always make a list before you shop and stick with it. Avoid places where you’re tempted to spend too much.
Eat to feel good. Enjoy three small meals throughout the day. Make sure each includes lean protein and fiber-rich whole grains. Cut back on sugar. Skip the fast-food drive-thru.
Move your body more. Fend off stress and symptoms. Use daily physical activity to relax. Pick something you like and stick with it. Walk with friends, take yoga, play a team sport.
Stick to a sleep schedule. Prioritize sleep to help control symptoms. Turn in and wake at the same time. Create a “wind down” routine to relax before bed. Avoid caffeine late in the day.
Learn to say no. Know your limits. Check your schedule before agreeing to another work project or social invitation. Protect your time. Dodge feeling overwhelmed or overtired.
Most importantly, talk with your doctor if you are struggling with ADHD. There are good treatments options. Often a combination of medication, education, skills training and psychological counseling are used to help manage symptoms. Treatment can help you learn ways to reduce impulsive behavior, control temper flares, manage your time better, boost your self-esteem and improve your relationship with your family, co-workers and friends.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, but worry you may exhibit some of its signs, share your concerns with your care provider. Nearly 20% of the eight million U.S. adults living with ADHD don’t even know they have it.
Tell-tale signs can include:
· Impulsive behavior
· Problems getting organized
· Difficulty staying focused on a task
· Mood swings
· Temper outbursts
· Trouble coping with stress
With help, you can manage ADHD and enjoy life to the fullest—at home, out in the world, in social situations and even at work.
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