Managing Stress When You or Someone You Love Has ADHD

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No one said that living with ADHD is easy, in fact, it can be quite stressful.  As an adult with ADHD, you might consistently forget appointments, procrastinate, always be running late, miss social situations or just generally feel frazzled.  As a parent or caregiver of someone with ADHD, you might feel as if you are constantly putting out fires, following behind and making sure chores are done or papers are not forgotten. Whether you are an adult with ADHD or a caregiver, there are ways you can reduce the effects of stress on  your daily life.

Educate yourself

Learn about ADHD. You may have spent years thinking, “I am stupid” or “I am lazy.” These sentiments can lower self esteem and make you feel stressed because you aren’t living up to expectations. Understanding ADHD can help you reframe your self perception and reduce your anxiety.

Get organized

Develop structure in daily life. The haphazardness of daily life in a household where someone is living with ADHD can add to your stress levels. Keep your daily structured using lists, apps to schedule appointments and tasks and set aside time each day to deal with papers, clutter and tasks.

Stay active, not busy

Spend time outdoors each day. No matter the weather, spending time outdoors can help you reduce stress, especially in “green” areas such as parks or your backyard. Also be sure to exercise each day. Daily exercise has been found to reduce ADHD symptoms and reduce overall stress levels. Immediately after exercising you might feel more relaxed but hours later the effect is still there. Regular exercise can help to keep stress levels regulated.

Ask for help

Work with a coach. If there is a particular aspect of ADHD that is causing disruption in your life, working with and ADHD coach can give you practical skills to be more successful. ADHD coaches work with both adults and students to help them better manage and live with symptoms of ADHD.

Stick with what you love

Engage in a hobby. You probably already know what types of activities you enjoy and help you relax. Set aside time every day or week to engage in activities that make you feel good. If not, try new things or activities until you find one you truly enjoy.

Leave room for some “you time”

Use relaxation strategies if you get stuck or feel overwhelmed. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing all help you to slow down, and have been found to reduce levels of anxiety. Commit to using these techniques for ten minutes a day and slowly work up to 30 minutes a day. You will feel the effects throughout the day.

Write it all down

Start a gratitude journal. When you are stressed, it is easy to focus on all the negative aspects of your life and ADHD symptoms. Each day write down three things you are grateful for in your life. These can be big, such as your home or your family, or small - such as the compliment you received at work or remembering an appointment. Keep it up for 30 days - you might change your thinking from pessimistic to optimistic and give yourself a better outlook on life.

Put your best foot forward

Sit up straight and smile. Lift your head, pull back your shoulders and smile, even if you can’t think of anything to smile about. If needed, use something from your gratitude journal. Just the act of smiling can boost your emotional state.

Let loose

Schedule time for fun. Life is busy and hectic and you might not think you have time for a break, but this only adds to stress. Make sure your weekly schedule includes several breaks. It might be dinner with friends, going to a movie,  or for your children - a play date with a classmate. Taking the time to have fun can lower overall stress and help you take your mind off of things, coming back to a stressful situation with a fresh perspective.

Don’t forget to...

Take care of yourself. Your eating and sleeping habits can affect your concentration and hyperactivity. Be sure you are eating three meals a day, or five to six smaller meals, as well as getting enough sleep each night.

For more information:

Meditation and Yoga for ADHD

Helping Children Learn Mindfulness to Reduce ADHD Symptoms

INFOGRAPHIC: Why Meditation Works: A HealthCentral Explainer

Parenting Children with ADHD: Take a few minutes to De-Stress

10 Tips to Reduce Stress at Work for Adults with ADHD