Coping Strategies & Tips for People with ADHD
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ADHD is a disorder that affects the way things work in the brain. Because everyone is unique, the impact it has on everyday life will vary from person to person. Individuals who have ADHD often know that something is wrong. The pain of feeling helpless to do anything about it can, and sometimes does, trigger symptoms of depression and anxiety. Anyone can be forgetful from time to time, but for a child or adult who has ADHD, the NASCAR or horse race speed of thoughts running through their heads makes it difficult, if not impossible to remember things. The inability to remember things can include anything from the content of a chapter they just read, to a project they were supposed to complete for an employer. Life with ADHD is a constant struggle to deal with the chaos that the disorder inflicts on every aspect of daily life. However, there is hope for people who suffer with it both before and after getting an official diagnosis.
An ADHD Diagnosis is a Good Thing, Not a Bad One
The diagnosis of ADHD is no different than the diagnosis of any condition. Don’t look at it as a sign of personal failure. In children, a diagnosis is often the most important piece of the puzzle. The problem, in this case, represents all the symptoms that interfere with school, home life and every other aspect of a child’s life. For educators and parents, an official diagnosis opens doors and lets light come in.
For adults, a diagnosis represents the long-awaited answer to issues that have interfered with most aspects of life, including relationships, job performance, general functioning and the ability to lead a productive life.
An official diagnosis from a certified professional should convince an individual with ADHD and the people around them that life’s obstacles are no longer insurmountable. Dealing with the disorder isn’t going to be a walk in the park, and it will take a lot of time to find strategies and tricks that make it possible for anyone who has ADHD to take control over their life, reactions, behavior, and thoughts.
Don’t Discount the Benefits of Medication
Medication is an important component of a comprehensive treatment plan. Stimulant drugs are useful because other therapies won’t work if an ADHD patient can’t focus on a task, activity or conversation. There is a lot of debate about whether it is appropriate for doctors to prescribe medication. There are strict standards to which physicians must adhere when prescribing stimulant medications to patients who have ADHD. Pharmacists can’t contact doctors for refills because the patient for whom the medication was prescribed must present a fraud and tamper-proof form to the pharmacist to fill the prescription.
Ways to Improve Concentration
The expectation that children and adults who have ADHD can focus on the contents of a book, a classroom activity, discussion or workplace meeting for lengthy periods is unrealistic. Even with medication, it isn’t likely that an adult or child who has ADHD can sit and read for an hour and remember what they just read. The same goes for business meetings or college lectures. Employers, teachers, school administrators may complain because a person who has ADHD isn’t like other kids, older students or employees.
The key to making it possible for an individual who has ADHD to focus on the task at hand is by setting incremental goals. Start with fifteen minutes. The prospect of having to spend fifteen minutes reading a book, listening to a lecture, or engaging with colleagues in a work environment is a lot less daunting than the thought of having to endure these activities for an entire hour. Once it becomes easy to focus for fifteen minutes, the next step is to increase the goal to thirty minutes. By establishing goals that are easy to achieve, the ability to concentrate and focus on a task doesn’t feel as scary or insurmountable anymore.
Keeping Track of Important Appointments, Dates, and Deadlines
Children often get in trouble at school for not doing their homework. They may get in trouble with their parents because they didn’t do their chores or didn’t come home on time. For adults, missed deadlines and appointments are a constant problem. College students may be embarrassed when they are never prepared when they come to class.
A pocket date book or an assignment notebook may be adequate for some people. For adults and children who have ADHD, nothing is effective unless they know where it is or are forced to look at reminders everywhere they go. The best way to work around forgetting physical things is by taking advantage of technology. There are many calendar apps for smartphones that have built-in reminders and audible notifications that alert people to things they must do or upcoming appointments. To-do apps are practical tools for keeping track of day-to-day obligations, projects or events.
Schedules and Routines are Crucial
Both adults and children with ADHD thrive on predictability. The best way to take advantage of that need is by creating daily schedules and routines. Use dry erase boards to list tasks and activities that make up different parts of daily routines. When kids see a checklist of things that they need to do when getting ready for school, they can check off each task as they complete it. This system is equally useful for adults. There is a sense of satisfaction for anyone at the sight of a completed checklist. For anyone with ADHD, every accomplishment is an extraordinary achievement. These achievements are motivation to continue on this successful journey.
Weekly meal plans make meal preparation much easier. There are all sorts of meal planning apps and templates that can help people take the confusion out of meal preparations and grocery shopping.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet, Exercise Plan and Sleep Schedule
For people who are always fidgeting, exercise or simple physical activity can be a valuable outlet with which to channel that pent-up energy. Any kind of physical activity - including stretching, household chores, yard work or social recreation offer a break from the tedium of sitting in a classroom, a boardroom, an office cubicle, or a quiet study venue.
Although there is no scientific proof to support the claims that sugary foods, processed foods, and junk food, in general, have an impact on the development of ADHD or the severity of the disorder’s symptoms, there is abundant evidence to show that these foods contribute to a host of health problems.
A healthy diet is likely to have a positive impact on mood, irritability, sleep cycles and overall wellbeing. It is widely known that inadequate sleep hinders concentration, the ability to engage in physical activity and productive functioning.
There is no denying that ADHD poses challenges for adults and children who have it. The degree to which it interferes with life varies by individual. A comprehensive treatment protocol that includes behavioral therapy, academic and workplace modifications, and medication can offer significant life-changing improvements to the quality of life, relationships and mental health of people who live with ADHD as children and adults.