Adulting with ADHD (Insights and Tips)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) develops in children but may go undiagnosed until adulthood. Many adults don’t even realize that they have this condition and continue struggling daily.
For adults, ADHD throws many challenges that interfere with healthy work and personal life. Let’s be honest, adulting is difficult for neurotypical people, let alone neurodivergent individuals. So for a grownup with ADHD, life can be difficult without adopting coping techniques that make it easier to focus and manage tasks.
The good news is that even with ADHD, you can become a well-functioning adult with healthy relationships and thriving professional life. You’ll have to tweak things so your ADHD symptoms don’t interfere. This article lists some helpful tips for managing adult ADHD.
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Understanding Adult ADHD
Adult ADHD is a mental disorder that impacts the ability to focus, executive functioning, and impulse control and is marked by episodes of hyperactivity. If you have ADHD as an adult, you most certainly had it as a child, whether or not it was diagnosed.
While most children learn to cope with ADHD, especially when diagnosed and treated, some may find the condition to linger well into their adulthood. It’s estimated that 60 percent of children with ADHD also continue to have it as adults.
With adults, ADHD symptoms can vary significantly. Also, the severity of symptoms varies, with some hardly experiencing them daily.
Typically, the symptoms of ADHD in adults include trouble focusing or following directions, procrastination, impulsiveness, poor organizational skills, restlessness, anxiety, and forgetfulness.
As an adult with ADHD, your school or work life may get negatively impacted by your symptoms. Similarly, relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners can suffer.
While you work on your symptoms and try coping, you must ensure others understand your condition.
Covering the Basics
Before highlighting some tips to make your adult life with ADHD easier, addressing the basics is essential. You’d be surprised how even the most seemingly insignificant things can make a big difference.
Research shows that there’s a strong link between ADHD and obesity. While it’s unclear exactly how ADHD causes or exacerbates obesity, the data suggests that both children and adults with ADHD are at risk of being overweight.
Proper nutrition with a balanced diet is essential for everyone, particularly someone at a higher risk for obesity. So as an adult living with ADHD, you may have to be extra cautious with your calorie intake and ensure you’re consuming healthy and nutritious foods.
While there are no official dietary recommendations for ADHD, eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins, and good fats is highly recommended. Also, avoid sugary and processed foods as well as caffeine.
Exercise and Sleep
Regular exercise and ample sleep can also do wonders for your ability to focus and be more organized. A 2018 study in Frontiers in Psychology showed that physical activity improved attentiveness in participants with ADHD.
Moreover, adults with ADHD frequently face sleep issues, which only worsen the ADHD symptoms. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, per your needs. Seek treatment for any specific sleep issues you may be facing, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Therapy for ADHD
As an adult with ADHD, you can benefit from seeing a therapist regularly. As a result of your ADHD, you may face issues that your peers may not face, and you’ll need guidance and support to cope, which therapy can provide.
You may use medication to control and treat ADHD symptoms, but therapy can help target specific emotional or behavioral issues. It may also help with other mental health issues that co-exist with ADHD.
Nowadays, therapy is easily accessible, especially with online tools.
Tips for Adulting with ADHD
The truth is that adulting is hard for almost everyone. Yes, ADHD may make it harder but know you’re not the only one struggling. The rapidly developing environment around us and sociopolitical issues make navigating life more challenging.
That said, there are ways you can ace life, even as an adult with ADHD. Here are some proven tips that will help you take control of your symptoms and adult pretty hard:
Create Visual Reminders
If there’s one saying that applies to people with ADHD, it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It’s easy to forget things that are out of sight. So it can be helpful to create visual reminders of tasks, even the most mundane day-to-day tasks.
- Use colorful Post-it notes on the refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, or nightstand.
- Keep a whiteboard or one of those fancy glass planners to jot down daily tasks.
- Keep things you need to work on somewhere you can easily see.
Use Timers for Specific Tasks
This is a trick that works great for achieving certain tasks in time. So it can come in very handy for work. Set up a timer for a specific task and, in that duration, focus solely on the job at hand. However, it’s best to set the timer for 15 to 20 minutes. If the task takes longer, you can take a break, set another timer, and continue.
This simple trick can increase your productivity at work or home. You can use timers for virtually any task. As an adult with ADHD, you may struggle with deadlines, so working in timed intervals can ensure you get things done on time.
Determine What Works for You for Daily Tasks
Understand and accept that your brain doesn’t work like most people’s. Instead of forcing yourself to do things a certain way, try to adapt to what works best for you.
Remember that you lack the executive functioning needed to follow schedules and routines. You may need to observe and note your daily activities to learn how to function most efficiently. Once you recognize your natural tendencies, embrace them and leverage them to get things done.
Break Big Tasks Into Smaller Ones
Bigger tasks and projects can be overwhelming for children and adults with ADHD. It can demotivate them, and they might not even be able to initiate. It’s best to break big tasks into smaller ones so they don’t seem daunting and are more manageable.
You should take breaks between the smaller tasks, but if you’re ready to jump to the next part, do so.
If you have a long list of tasks, for example, errands, that you can’t break down into smaller ones, try breaking them down into smaller groups. That way, the whole set of tasks for the day won’t seem so overwhelming.
Set Up Alarms and Reminders on Your Phone
We have our phones on our person all the time. So why not use it to stay ahead of tasks?
Again, forgetting things, even without a distraction, is common in ADHD. Your thoughts might wander, and you forget what you’re supposed to do the very next moment.
So set up alarms and reminders, even for the smallest of routine tasks, for example, watering plants, taking medication, putting out trash, etc.
For important tasks, set multiple reminders throughout the day, especially if you need to prepare for it in advance, for instance, a coffee date with a friend.
Try New Things or Try Things Differently
Interestingly, individuals with ADHD focus better on things new to them. So introducing some novelty in your life can enhance your focus and attentiveness. Again, your brain isn’t like neurotypical people and needs extra stimulation.
You can leverage this quality of your brain to your advantage. For instance, changing your workspace can add novelty and allow you to focus better. Similarly, change your routine when it becomes too routine-y for you.
Respect Your Limited Capacity and Plan Accordingly
Most people overestimate how much they can get done in a day. But as an adult with ADHD, you may do it even more. And some days, you might not even get half the things you planned to do, and that’s ok.
You may feel sad at the end of the day that you couldn’t do what you set out to. However, if you’re creating an unrealistic amount of tasks for the day, you will never be able to achieve them, no matter how hard you try.
Therefore, it’s best to take a step back and accept your limitations, especially considering your ADHD symptoms. Plan according to your capacity and never burden yourself.
Reduce Distractions When Working
As ADHD involves attention issues, reducing distractions when working is essential. You want to work somewhere with minimal or no distractions. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep your desk free of clutter so that you can concentrate better.
- Work in a quiet area, away from any commotion.
- If music helps you concentrate, use headphones while working.
- Sit facing an empty wall.
- Politely ask your coworker not to talk to you while you work on something important.
Distractions can even occur from within you. If a thought or idea pops into your mind, write it in a notebook to explore later and return to the task.
Set Automatic Bill Payments
It’s not uncommon for adults with ADHD to miss bill payments, which only creates financial problems in the long run. One of the best ways to deal with this is by setting up automatic payments for important bills, like electricity, water, internet, credit card, etc. You won’t miss the deadline or accrue late payment surcharges.
Most banking apps today have auto-payment features that will make your life easier.
Although meditation may be opposite to your hyperactive nature as a person with ADHD, you should take baby steps and practice mindfulness. Stressing about even the most routine tasks is common in ADHD, so you need techniques that help you calm down.
Once you’re calm, you can focus better. Consider taking a meditation class or watching videos online. Once you learn the ropes, you can use these techniques daily.
Most Important Tip: Be Kind to Yourself
And here’s the most crucial tip you need to hear about coping with ADHD as an adult: show yourself compassion. Accept that some things are harder for you than others and that you’re trying your best.
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