When many people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), images of a child who struggles to pay attention at school or can’t seem to sit still at the dinner table may come to mind. But ADHD isn’t just a child’s disorder. Nearly 5% of adults in the United States have the condition as well.
Symptoms of ADHD differ for adults and are often more subtle than those in children. According to Health, adults with ADHD often have trouble with organization, engage in impulsive behavior and struggle to complete tasks at home and work.
ADHD in adults should always be supervised and managed by a doctor, but here are some tips to help manage the condition.
Get Yourself Organized
Attention disorders are all about organization, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately for communities with so many technological devices available, leading a more organized life is just a click away.
Use digital calendar books, apps for list-making or those offering flow charts — like XMind or Popplet — to organize your thoughts. List-making can set up your plan for the day, but also break down larger tasks into smaller steps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If you think more efficiently through old-fashioned pen and paper, you can always use a planner or notebook for your calendar and reminders.
List-making can set up your plan for the day, but only if you make lists in a way that isn’t daunting. Keep to-do lists brief, no more than five items, and cross tasks off as you finish them so you can feel accomplished and less frustrated. Consider breaking down larger tasks into smaller steps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
A Helping Hand
ADHD in adults can strain your relationships, and admitting your condition to friends and supervisors can be embarrassing. But honesty in advance can help defuse more difficult situations later. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help or confide in them during times when you feel yourself struggling with common ADHD symptoms.
If you need a little extra support outside your circle of friends and family, professional therapy can help develop skills to minimize impulsive or irrational behaviors. In addition to counseling, support groups can also help fill in the gaps between appointments. You can also approach ADD/ADHD coaches to help you hone more practical coping skills.
Additude magazine offers a few pointers for exercising impulse control, particularly on checking yourself before you respond to things with poorly chosen words. Here are a few techniques to delay your reactions while you think things through:
- Try placing your finger over your mouth to halt impulses while considering your response.
- Paraphrase what the speaker said to you before replying.
- Practice speaking slowly in a mirror, so you have more time to think about the words coming out.
If you suffer from ADHD, drinking espresso, energy drinks or other sugar-laden foods to stay focused is probably not the best idea, according to Healthline. Not only should you avoid chemical stimulants like caffeine or excessive sugar, but chaotic situations may overload your senses as well. Big crowds in settings such as amusements parks and concerts may be a little more than you can handle.
Stress and lack of sleep can also aggravate ADHD symptoms; explore natural techniques to cope with this discomfort, such as meditation and yoga.
Living with ADHD can be a challenge. Embracing organizational techniques or support systems and avoiding overstimulation can get you on your way to a happier and more productive life.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.