I can thank my ADHD for many, many things—my spicy and original sense of humor, my own personal brand of flavorful sassiness, and my quick and colorful thoughts.
On the other hand, I could also look at these attributes as the aspects of myself that my ADHD personality-type make challenging—my obnoxiously silly nature, my—ahem—fiery temper and impatience and my hamster wheel of a monkey mind.
So, yeah, I guess you could say that I wouldn’t change anything about who I am—including and especially what some people might classify as ADHD—but I do occasionally need a little bit of help if I’m going to not always be an over-the-top, self-centered individual.
On this note, I present to you a list of my favorite ways to not only live with ADHD, but thrive, naturally.
1. Walk in the woods.
This works every single, stinkin’ time—seriously.
Nature does wonders for those of us who cannot easily quiet our brains or our bodies. Walking in the lush color palette of nature is perfect for relieving constantly-churning thoughts and restless limbs.
Combine the physical movement with the ever-present variety of sounds—from crickets and birds to cars or the crunch, crunch of your own feet—and taking a walk on a local trail, ideally once a day, becomes perhaps one of the best prescriptions that you could be offered.
2. Read what you love.
If you’re a younger student, I’m sorry, this isn’t the same thing. If you’re an adult, however—yes, this is for you.
You may have gone through life thinking that reading wasn’t your cup of tea, but I’m guessing that you didn’t find what sets you on fire—or you’ve been drinking Earl Grey when you should have ordered a soy chai latte.
To be fair, I’ve always been a voracious reader (see my bio). Still, I know just how hard it is to get through material that you’re forced to read for work or education and trust me when I tell you that it’s not the same.
Experiment until you find an author or subject that speaks to you. (Oh, and if you like this article, you can find more of my work by clicking on the red-highlighted name at the top—cough, cough—shameless promotion.)
3. Find your drishti.
If you don’t practice yoga, then let’s start there. Yes, you should absolutely, without a doubt begin practicing yoga. Take a class anywhere—just do it. (It being yoga.)
Anyways, if you are already an avid yoga practitioner—or even a newbie—then focus on your gaze, or drishti, during your postures. Softening the skin around your eyes and steadying them on one un-moving spot is key to reigning in a whirling mind.
Think of squirrels or vata-type people (look up dosha types if you have no clue what vata means)—nervousness, anxiety and darting eyeballs have been linked together for ages—or for as long as squirrels have been around, at least. On the other hand, in my experience, the reverse can also be true: steady your mind by steadying your gaze.
4. Eat a high-protein diet.
This works—it really does. Your body is a machine, and not in the inappropriately propagated athlete-stereotype way either. Yet, never you question, your body is a machine—and how can you feed it sugary shit and think it’s going to perform well?
I’m not a dietician, so I’m not going to go into lengthy detail for this particular suggestion. However, talk to any ADHD-knowledgeable doctor or therapist and they’ll likely tell you that what you eat definitely matters.
Absolutely exercise. There’s no way around this one.
The worst internal space for an individual with ADHD to inhabit is one where your body is lazy or under-worked and your head is spinning.
Conversely, doing the wrong form of exercise can be limiting too.
So you think you’re a yogi? Awesome—me too. Still, I also like to walk (review #1), run short distances, Spin, cruise on my circa-1980-whatever Nordic Track, etc.
Conclusion: get your cardio on if you are having trouble with your ADHD.
6. On self-medicating.
Many, many people with ADHD self-medicate, and that’s okay—in moderation.
I’ve witnessed individuals fall apart because they’ve never been properly diagnosed or they haven’t had proper treatment.
Generally speaking, those of us who are blessed with ADHD—and I don’t mean this sarcastically in the slightest—will find that we tend to use caffeine during the day (it’s a stimulant like many of the pharmaceutical therapies offered) and then drink alcohol during the evening (to calm down from ourselves, not the coffee).
Point: if you find that you’re self-medicating at all, my suggestion is to see a physician and get a proper assessment done. What you choose to do with that assessment’s information is entirely up to you, of course, but often just having someone to talk to or appropriately diagnose you is key to making sure that your self-medicating doesn’t get out of hand.
7. Get sleep.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to functioning your best as a person with ADHD. Unfortunately, this is even harder as you get older.
Honestly, no one could understand more the various life reasons for why your sleep is lacking, but believe me when I tell you that it’s important to get rest—your brain and body need it.
Again, if this is a real concern for you then talk with family members who can help with things such as childcare needs or speak with your physician.
8. Limit technology.
I know, I know, this is coming from a blogger, and you know what? I write with these nifty little things called—wait for it—a paper and pen.
Yep, it’s true—much of what comes from my heart to yours via online wording is actually incubated in my little decomposition book.
Consider shutting off your t.v. and doing something else (see suggestion #2); call people instead of texting or Facebooking (Ira, I loved your recent blog, by the way).
In short, I’m well aware—especially considering the profession that I’ve chosen—that technology is an unavoidable part of our lives, and I’m not telling you to avoid it—but I am saying that you should limit it if you want to more efficiently manage your ADHD.
If your mind goes a mile a minute like an unstoppable Olympian, then consider writing.
It doesn’t have to be professional and no one has to see it but you, but I strongly suggest, at the very least, chronicling your thoughts for yourself.
If you’re an extrovert like I am, then you might also pleasantly discover that you figure out perplexing thoughts as you get them out, and if you’re more introverted, then it will feel really good to share what’s happening within you.
Working through thoughts on paper (yes, the old-fashioned way) is an amazing way to release yourself from an idea that just won’t stop or a feeling that’s been eating at you. (There’s actually research that shows this.)
10. Shadow conditions.
Last but not least, there’s the reality that shadow conditions often accompany ADHD. What this means is that you might be improperly diagnosed with depression, anxiety or a handful of other issues instead of the root of what’s happening within you—your ADHD.
Additionally, women are easily under-diagnosed with ADHD when they function well within society because the stigma that this is a problem boy’s problem follows us even into adulthood. While I in no way discount youth with ADHD (obviously), they too suffer when we don’t talk about the real-life condition—which occurs in men and women, young and old.
Rather, what I am offering to you is that you definitely should be your own medical advocate—asking more questions and demanding more answers—if you suspect that you’ve not been properly—or completely—diagnosed.
Living in the world as an adult with ADHD can surely be a challenge—but it doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.
Don’t let anyone decide for you what “normal” is, yet, at the same time, consider that life doesn’t have to be a series of overwhelming obstacles either.
I sincerely hope that these tried-and-true tips from my heart and my life will help you begin to find manageability if you’ve recently felt out of control and, more than this, I hope they remind you that you do have the ability to do anything—or be anyone—that your own heart desires.
“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
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Ed: Bryonie Wise