5 Steps for Managing ADHD in the New Year
New Year’s is just around the corner. The time of the year we look forward and think about ways we can create positive changes in our future. For many people, resolutions come and go; we are sure this year we will stick to them, but yet a few weeks into the year they are all but forgotten. For those with ADHD resolutions are difficult. They require planning, organization and follow-thru - all areas that can cause problems. But, the good news is that many adults with ADHD lead healthy, productive, happy lives and learn to both manage the most troublesome symptoms and capitalize on the positive ADHD traits.
The following are steps you can take in the New Year to help you better manage your ADHD.
Reflect on the different areas of your life and how you can improve them. We all, whether ADHD or not, have area of our life we can improve; it could be our jobs, our relationships or leading a healthier lifestyle. But it can be overwhelming to try to improve every area of your life all at once. Instead, look at how your ADHD symptoms impact the different areas and decide which area is suffering the most. This isn’t an exercise in self-bashing, rather it is a way to narrow your focus for the year. As you work on improving one area and better managing ADHD symptoms, you may find that other areas of your life begin to improve as well. But, begin with focusing on one specific area.
Customize your approach and treatment plan. For many, treatment for ADHD consists of medication, some basic lifestyle and organizational changes and possible therapy. But ADHD is different in each person and symptoms show up differently. Instead of using the cookie-cutter treatment plan, work with your doctor or therapist to create a treatment plan specific to you and those symptoms that are causing the most difficulty in your life.
Decide who can help you. There are many different types of help available for adults and children with ADHD. Professionals such as medical doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and ADHD coaches can all play a role in helping you get where you want to go. Support groups, either online or in-person can also help. Once you decide how you want to improve your life, know that you don’t need to do it alone. Reach out to the professionals and people who can best support you in reaching your goals for the New Year.
Make one behavioral change at a time. If you are like most people with ADHD, organization is a weak area. Although some people seem “naturally organized,” organization and habits can be learned. One small change can make a large difference in your life. For example, if you are always forgetting where you put your keys or your cellphone, create a spot in your house for them. Each time you walk in the house, remind yourself to put your keys where they belong. Give yourself a reward each time you remember - a small treat such as a piece of candy or a quarter in a jar that you can put toward something you want. Keep working at it until it becomes a habit and your keys go in the proper spot without even thinking about it.
Make one change toward a healthier lifestyle. As with behavioral changes, take one step at a time. If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, add 10 minutes of exercise a day to your routine. Or skip the donut on the way to work and replace with some granola and yogurt. You don’t have to change everything all at once. But, getting the right amount of sleep, eating right and exercising each day can help reduce symptoms of not only ADHD, but depression and anxiety, which are common coexisting conditions.
Making changes is never easy but it is important to remember that small changes usually pay off with large rewards. Often, we fail in making and keeping resolutions because we want to make huge changes in our life - all at once. Instead, break your goals down and reward yourself each time you take a step forward, even if it is a baby step. Moving forward, no matter how small, is still moving forward.