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Making Your ADHD Work for You

Coping Skills
4 min read

Have you been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

You may notice that you tend to struggle with things like time management, impulsiveness, focus, prioritizing, or staying organized.

Although ADHD can present its challenges, it’s important to remember that there are ways you can set your day up to work better for your brain specifically.

Here are a few common challenges with tips to help you get things done while feeling good doing them.

Common Challenges Associated with ADHD

  1. Challenge: You have a lot of energy.

    Tip: Find various ways to expend energy. Whether you’re very active or sit throughout your day, try to incorporate movement - sitting on a yoga ball, incorporating walks (indoor or outdoor) into your work day, or just moving through some light seated stretches. Do you fidget, pick your skin, or bite your nails? “Anxiety jewelry” looks good and provides comfort
    while chewing gum can occupy a restless mouth. 

  2. Challenge: Your motivation ebbs and flows.

    Tip: Work with your natural motivational rhythm. Notice when you feel most inspired to create or be productive and track completion of projects to explore patterns. It’s important to schedule breaks and time for overflow activities or last-minute events. If you struggle with focus, you can check out some tips, here: Tips for Folks Struggling with Focus

  3. Challenge: “Normal” routines just don’t work for you.

    Tip: Create your own!
    There’s no “normal” when it comes to mental health and you are the expert when it comes to your own needs. Make your life work for you - rather than living by expectations you feel like you “should live by,” consider why you do what you do and if it actually feels supportive. (Ex. If you hate brushing your teeth but really enjoy showers - switch it up and brush your teeth while in the shower. You might increase your motivation around it and start to form a routine.)

  4. Challenge: You find it hard to stay organized and remember all of the “to-dos.”

    Tip: Keep it visual and track.
    Folks with ADHD can struggle with working memory, the executive function that allows us to keep track of and process information. Utilizing timers, calendars, and digital apps to track various tasks allows you to plan for engaging in those tasks in the future without losing track of time. Keeping things organized visually enhances your ability to improve their functionality and the chances you’ll actually utilize them.

  5. Challenge: You can be impulsive.

    Tip: Notice how you feel and set limits.
    If you’re able to, stop and pause before you make your next decision to check in with your body and really notice how you feel. Do you feel grounded and centered with yourself? Or is your heart racing and you’re feeling floaty? As you begin to recognize how you actually feel when impulsivity occurs, you can give yourself a moment to pause before jumping into something. A great practice for this is the STOP technique - Stop. Take a Breath. Observe. Proceed. 
    Explore more tips in here: 3 ADHD Coping Skills for the Active Mind

Golden Tip: Have compassion with yourself and find what works best for you. Learning to work with your ADHD will allow you to reduce your time spent comparing yourself to others or feeling shame around what you “should” be able to do.

With practice and empathy, it will be easier for you to settle into patterns and routines that actually make sense for you. You can check out how to start working on that “inner critic,” here.

Things to consider: 

Which of these challenges do you feel you struggle the most with?

What’s one small way to make that aspect of yourself feel like it “works” a bit better for you? Notice if any judgmental thoughts arise. This is a great moment to practice self-compassion.

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About the author: Chelsea Cummings is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) from Asheville, NC. She specializes in working with folks who identify as neurodivergent and supports people in cultivating healthy, creative, and resilient minds. Explore more content from Chelsea, or connect directly, by viewing her Frame profile here.