Can anyone relate to this story…. I get up, go to the kitchen to make coffee, I see a sock. I pick it up to put in the laundry. On my way to the laundry, I trip over a cat. I redirect to go feed the cat. Then I notice the dog. I stop my forward momentum and pivot toward the front door to let the dog out to pee. I remember, I need coffee! Headed to the coffee maker, see the cat who is now pissed because she is hangry. I apologize, get the cat food out. I see a sink full of dishes. I intend to start to load the dishwasher but wait! It first needs to be emptied. Cat is meowing because I forgot her food. I see Thing #3 (aka, youngest child) who starts yelling he is late for school and why the hell am I not dressed to drive him. I throw on a coat (no time for a bra today), shoes, trip over the cat who still hasn’t been fed, grab my purse, and run to the car. I see a dog outside. Shit! Get out and let the dog in the house. Back to the car, I hammer the gas and go screeching out of the driveway when suddenly I realize, Thing #3 isn’t in the car! I shit you not, this is my life.
Adults living with ADHD feel a constant sense of being weighed down by everyday life. They wake up already feeling like they are three steps behind. They spend their entire day on ludicrous speed to get all-the-things on their endless task list completed. And yet, they still go to bed every night feeling like they spun their proverbial wheels never making any forward progress.
ADHD sufferers can use up the entire day stuck in a complete brain fog, continuously conscious of all the things on that to-do list, but never mustering up the motivation or energy to get any shit done! This leaves them feeling disorganized, frustrated, tired, shamed and feeling guilty because they just couldn’t keep on task. Don’t get me started on focus…. SQUIREL!
I have lived my whole life with undiagnosed ADHD. I knew I had it when my oldest son was diagnosed 11 years ago. It became so obvious to me that I have been suffering for so many years thinking I was just a fucking idiot who couldn’t get anything done fast. I am smart, but let me tell you, it takes me 2-3 times longer to learn something than someone without ADHD. Why? Because not only can’t I focus, but I can’t comprehend what I am reading. My mind is 13 steps ahead of the moment I should be thinking about. I work so hard. And I am tired. So, so, tired.
It took me more than 4 decades to finally get the courage to ask my doctor to prescribe me medication to help me manage my symptoms. I was so afraid of what people would think if they knew I had ADHD. But now that I am in my mid 40’s I am doing things for me, and not giving a shit what anyone else thinks about it. They don’t have to struggle every day. I do.
Throughout my adult life, I have learned numerous coping skills to overcome many symptoms. But what I just couldn’t overcome was the exhaustion of trying so hard every day to do things people without ADHD do without a single thought. I have compiled 7 strategies for managing ADHD. I have used these with much success and hope they serve you well.
#1 Slow Down!
People with ADHD are often characterized as being in hyperdrive both mentally and physically. In my view, slowing down when you feel hurried, stressed out or overwhelmed is the first and most necessary step to managing your daily life.
This is way easier said than done folks! A good practice is to try being more present, live in the moment, the now. I found breathing and meditation exercises difficult, but I fell in love with lifting weights or yoga. When I am moving my body and focusing on a bench press or holding downward dog, I stop thinking and my brain focuses. Ironically, kids find amazing focus when playing video games. The brain of someone with ADHD is not working fast enough, so it looks for ways to be stimulated. It is a misconception that the brain is working slower and that is why we can’t focus.
#2 Identify Your Specific ADHD Symptoms
No two persons will have the same symptoms, so it is important to learn yours. I have two kids with ADHD (very hereditary trait). My oldest is a typical hyperactive type, but my youngest is not hyperactive at all. He is the inattentive type; he has trouble focusing and concentrating. I have a more typical ADHD presentation. I can’t stop moving and I can’t focus. Best of both worlds!
#3 Concentrate on Your Strengths
Everybody has strong points, expertise, aptitudes, and passions. Spend more time on the things you are good at. Stop focusing on all the things you have more difficulty with. This strategy helps increase your feelings of self-worth, confidence, motivation, and contentment in life.
#4 Plan the Time to Plan…Everything
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail”. This is especially true for ADHD sufferers. We easily can get distracted by all the shiny objects in the world and therefore have trouble completing initiated tasks. Developing tools and methods for planning will make your ability to manage your time and complete stuff easier. Breaking large tasks into smaller ones also helps the person not get overwhelmed, a quite common feature for ADHD.
#5 Build up Structure
People living with ADHD thrive on structure and routines. We don’t do so well with unpredictability or uncertainty. Our brains struggle to pivot on demand, and this can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Create routines and stick to them.
#6 Pass on the Details
ADHD sufferers in general do not do well with details. Because of their strong need for stimulation, some adults with ADHD become easily bored at work, especially with detailed paperwork and routine tasks. With that said, they are exceptionally good problem solvers, creative, innovative, and even strong leaders. They can be exceptionally efficient when working in stimulating environments. Find jobs that play to your strengths.
#7 Get Over Perfectionism
Some ADHD sufferers can become quite obsessive compulsive and have a need to make sure everything is simply perfect. This can get them very stuck. There is a big distinction between ‘a good job’ and ‘a perfect job.’ ‘A good job’ is job done well; ‘a perfect job’ does not happen. Nothing in this planet is just the right thing, so do yourself a big favor and let it go! (cue ‘Frozen’ music here).
Are you struggling with ADHD and want to learn how to get your sh!t together? I can take you from hot mess to less stress. Want to learn more, schedule a free Breakthrough Coaching Session to see if coaching is a good fit to help you.
Yes, you can!