10 Best ADHD Self-Help Strategies
ADHD self-help can seem impossible. ADHD creates a sense of being out-of-control. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible to be in command of yourself and your life. Use these 10 ADHD self-help strategies to give yourself some peace and personal power.
10 Adult ADHD Strategies and Self-Help Tips
- Separate yourself from your ADHD. ADHD is something you live with; it isn’t who you are. You can come to embrace both your life and who you are when you separate yourself from you ADHD.
To do this, make a list of the things that are frustrating you. Next, consult a list of adult ADHD symptoms. Compare the lists. Put a star by the items on your list that directly relate to ADHD. You’ll see not a list of personal flaws but a list of symptoms of this disorder. Now, make a list of things you do well despite your symptoms. You have a lot more to you than ADHD.
- Check in with yourself. Tune into both body and mind. With ADHD, people have difficulty focusing on and picking up on cues not just from the outside world but their own inner world, too. (Weiss, 2005).This means that you might not notice things like hunger, thirst, or fatigue until it’s extreme and you’re at ADHD meltdown level.
Make it a regular habit to check in with yourself during the day. Do a body scan to assess your physical condition in the moment, then do something about it. This is a good way to take care of yourself and prevent adult ADHD symptoms from overpowering you.
- Put your senses on your side. Use your senses to create better conditions in your environment to promote concentration. Some people like music and others noise, while some just like it quiet. Ditto light levels. Experiment with different types and levels of sensory stimulation. Make your surroundings work for you by customizing sensory input.
- Develop routines. Routines provide stability and predictability, something the ADHD brain craves. Having general routines for what you do, when you do it, and how you do it is an important component of ADHD self-help for adults.
- Know Yourself. When living your life, know what works for you and what doesn’t. Consider your personality, interests, and your own manifestation of ADHD. Determining strengths and weaknesses, interests and disinterests will help you design routines that work.
- Balance. ADHD can make people hyperfocus. This shows that people with ADHD can and do concentrate, but what often happens is that they ignore other things, other areas of their lives. This can be related to work, relationships, self-care, and more. Lack of balance exacerbates symptoms of ADHD and can even cause symptoms of depression (Weiss, 2005).
Be aware of the important areas of your life by creating a map or list. Add activities in each area, and schedule them into your daily life. Living a balanced life helps neutralize ADHD.
- Exercise often. Frequent, regular physical activity is among the best adult ADHD strategies. Hallowell & Ratey (2010) explain that exercise decreases excess energy and aggression, quiets noise within the mind, soothes and calms the body, and positively affects the neurochemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that are implicated in ADHD.
- Scheduling and fun are key. With ADHD, if you don’t intentionally schedule something into your day, it’s likely that you will forget about it or run out of time to do it (How to Manage Your Time and Stay on Schedule with Adult ADHD). Also, make it fun. Pick what brings you joy.
- Enlist support. Self-help doesn’t mean “by yourself.” Communicate with people in your life for help with difficult tasks. Some people use an adult ADHD coach to help them organize and prioritize. There are also ADHD self-help groups to join, in which people share frustrations, successes, and tips for what works.
- Discover Purpose and Meaning. ADHD can make days turn into drudgery, ordinary tasks become struggles. When you’re so caught up in trying to stay afloat, you can lose sight of your bigger picture. What are your long-term goals and values? Create a visual representation of your passions and purpose. It will help you stay engaged when duties get frustrating.
These 10 adult ADHD self-help tips are good suggestions, but they may not work for you in every situation. Keep a running list of self-help strategies that you've tried gives you an accessible go-to file when you need it the most. Include self-help strategies as well as successes you’ve had. In the height of frustration or times when you’re especially down on yourself, it helps to have this easy reference.
These 10 adult ADHD strategies can help you take back your life from the control of ADHD. Self-help strategies will help you live well in spite of ADHD symptoms.
Last Updated: 01 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD