Living with ADHD as an adult can cause unique challenges for those with the condition. However, there are many ways for them to incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily routines to help them better manage these obstacles. Exploring a new hobby, setting reminders, and using organizing tools are all steps a person can take to live mindfully.
What Is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioral condition that is most commonly diagnosed in childhood and adolescence.1 However, the condition often carries over into adulthood, affecting approximately 4.5% of the adult population.1
Executive dysfunction in adult ADHD can make certain daily responsibilities more difficult. These challenges are often caused by the core characteristics of ADHD, such as inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and restlessness.
10 Tips for Healthy Living With ADHD
ADHD affects everyone differently. Some may have trouble focusing on their work, while others struggle to sit still and stay quiet. Whatever your symptoms may be, making certain lifestyle changes and developing coping skills can help you live a more organized, healthy life.
Here are 10 tips for healthy living with adult ADHD:
1. Explore New Hobbies
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps a person feel positive emotions, such as happiness and motivation. Those with ADHD often experience low levels of this chemical, meaning they should seek activities that boost dopamine. Trying out a new hobby or engaging in something mentally stimulating can help you feel better, relieve anxiety, and improve your focus. For example, try starting a new ADHD meditation routine or painting.
2. Practice Self-Compassion
Many people with ADHD may struggle with negative self-talk because they are too harsh on themselves when they fall short of expectations. It can be easy to fall into a trap of perfectionism, but working on how you think about yourself is helpful. Studies show that those who practice self-compassion have higher levels of self-acceptance, confidence, and self-esteem. Learning how to love yourself is important–start by allowing yourself to be human and make mistakes.
3. Maintain a Healthy Sleep Routine
Getting enough sleep can help those with ADHD feel more focused throughout the day, reduce stress, and increase productivity. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of daytime accidents, poor health choices, and underperforming at work or school. Some research indicates that as many as 44% of adults with ADHD struggle with insomnia and other night time disturbances.2 Taking steps to ensure you get adequate sleep on a regular basis will help improve your mental health and quality of life.
4. Try Body Doubling
Body doubling is a tool that can be helpful when trying to stay motivated and on task. Reach out to one or two people to come work alongside you as you focus on completing an assignment or project. They don’t necessarily need to be working on the same thing, but it can be motivating to know you’re not alone in your efforts–and possibly provide a little friendly competition. Body doubling can be used for just about anything, such as projects at work, organizing your pantry, or cleaning your house.
5. Set Reminders
Setting reminders can be extremely helpful for adults with ADHD, as it allows them to organize their priorities. Reminders also provide accountability, which some individuals may struggle with. You’ll stay on task and schedule, and important responsibilities won’t be forgotten—especially when you’re busy trying to get through the day.
6. Use Organizational Tools
Organizational tools are essential for adults with ADHD. The main purpose of these is to help you manage your time and tasks effectively, so you can be as productive as possible. Start by using sticky notes, binder clips, and wall calendars to organize your important documents or appointments.
7. Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time, especially when you are trying to get something done, is beneficial. Try setting an alarm on your phone when using it or watching TV to let you know when it’s time to take a break.
We often don’t recognize the flood of information that we constantly receive throughout the day and how overstimulating it can be. Because of this, monitoring how much you expose yourself to social media, news, and other distractions can help you stay focused. Start by switching off notifications on your phone or taking a social media break.
8. Try Natural Remedies
There are many natural remedies for ADHD that can prove beneficial, because they work in different ways than conventional pharmaceutical medications. Natural remedies can help improve symptoms of ADHD alongside traditional treatment approaches. Some examples include practicing mindfulness, getting outdoors, or biofeedback.
9. Learn More About ADHD
Learning as much as you can about ADHD can help you find ways to better manage and cope with challenges. ADHD affects millions of people around the world, but is commonly misunderstood by others. Therefore, the more knowledge about ADHD you have, the easier it will be for you to work with your doctor to find treatment methods that work for your specific needs.
10. Stay Up to Date With Your Medication
Staying on track with your ADHD medication routine is important for managing symptoms and improving your relationships, work performance, and overall health. Put previously mentioned tips into practice by using your handy organization tools and reminders to make this an easy aspect of your day!
How & When to Disclose an ADHD Diagnosis
Disclosing an ADHD diagnosis to others is a personal decision. Some may choose to keep their condition private, while others feel comfortable sharing it. If you do decide to disclose your ADHD, prepare yourself for the questions, comments, and looks that may come along with it.
Sometimes, those without a mental health condition cannot relate to what it is like to have one. Thus, they may not understand how they should act or react around someone with ADHD. Keep this information in mind and be sure to only share your diagnosis when you want to.
When to Seek Professional Help
Treatment for adult ADHD can make a huge difference in your ability to manage symptoms and lead a productive, happy life. Often, treatment includes a combination of medication and therapy.
In one study, 60% of participants reported significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms after six months of taking medication.3 Therapy, either on its own or alongside pharmaceutical treatment, can help people learn skills to manage their symptoms more effectively. Finding a neurotypical-affirming therapist is an important aspect of receiving the best care.
Treatment options for ADHD may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT for ADHD helps people change their behaviors by positively altering their thoughts. This approach is an evidence-based treatment, and has been shown to improve one’s overall wellbeing.
- Life coaching: Life coaches empower and motivate clients in order to help them manage their symptoms and overcome challenges.
- Medication: Medication may help improve your ability to stay on task, feel more relaxed, or get a better night’s sleep. However, medications do not cure ADHD and you must only take your prescription as instructed.
- Psychoeducation: Adults with ADHD are often unaware of how their condition affects their life. Psychoeducation is one of the best defenses against stimulant abuse, which may be a challenge for some individuals.
- Skills training: The goal of these therapeutic interventions is to teach individuals how to improve their coping and calming skills, as well as how to respond differently in social situations.
In My Experience
As an adult with ADHD, you can take a step back, review your symptoms, and consider the treatment options available to you. Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your struggles–you deserve the same attention and care as anyone else. The most important things to remember are to accept yourself for who you are; ask for the support and encouragement you need; and stay motivated through life’s challenges. I encourage you to seek help and guidance from a buddy, therapist, or family member so that you have the tools needed to succeed!