Living with ADHD can be overwhelming, but self-care, time management tools, and social support offer hope.
ADHD affects all areas of your life. For many people, living with ADHD can make it a challenge to manage work, school, and relationships.
While each person with ADHD is unique, some of the condition’s classic symptoms — such as trouble starting tasks, staying organized, and maintaining focus and attention — are common in many people.
But there is hope.
If you have ADHD, there are strategies and tools you can try to help you achieve your goals, while also maximizing your wellness.
With ADHD, it can be challenging to juggle multiple responsibilities throughout the course of a day. You might find it helpful to set up a consistent time and space to plan, reflect, and regroup.
Try these tips:
- Pick a time. Consider setting aside a designated time every day to think through your tasks, plan your schedule, and celebrate your accomplishments.
- Optimize your space. Try setting up the physical and digital environments that work best for you. Keep what you need at your fingertips, whether it’s a water bottle, a timer app, or a notepad.
- Look at the big picture. During this time, it can be helpful to zoom out and think about the big picture. What goals matter to you, and why? Reminding yourself of the values that inform your goals can help motivate you to pursue them.
Procrastination and difficulties with time management are common challenges for people with ADHD. There are many organizational tools that can help you get motivated, stay on task, and manage your time more effectively.
- Every night, consider writing out a master list of everything you’d like to get done the next day. Then, go through your list and prioritize what needs to be done earlier or later.
- Checking off tasks as you finish them can help you track your progress and acknowledge your achievements.
- When a task feels overwhelming or confusing, it can be useful to break it up into small parts and focus on one part at a time. Write out each tiny step, including a step for gathering what you need and gearing yourself up to start.
- Visualizing yourself going through and completing each task can make it feel less intimidating.
- Some people with ADHD find they are able to focus more intensely when they’re approaching a deadline. Using a timer can create a sense of urgency and help you build motivation on your own terms.
- Consider setting up a timer for a specific amount of time and work nonstop until time runs out. Certain timer apps — such as the Tomato Timer — are designed to make this easy for you, offering built-in breaks between timed work sessions.
- Timers can help you embrace the “now” and overcome procrastination.
- Setting a timer can help you mentally eliminate distractions and focus on one task at a time.
- Developing a habit of setting alarms and reminders on your phone can help you remember meetings and appointments.
- Consider setting up repeating timers for consistent habits you’d like to build into your daily schedule.
With ADHD, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and emotions. Using relaxation and grounding techniques may help you soothe restlessness and manage impulsive feelings.
Consider trying out these tips:
- You can try keeping a notebook, either physical or digital, where you jot down ideas, emotions, and thoughts as they come to you. This will allow you to clear your mind in the present and return to your thoughts at a later time.
Studiesshow that mindfulness meditation may help people with ADHD manage time and better cope with their thoughts and emotions.
- Deep breathing exercises can
helpimprove attention and memory, and help support self-control in people with ADHD.
- For both mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises, you can watch videos online, download an app, or check out classes in your area.
Self-care and healthy habits can go a long way in helping you cope with the symptoms ADHD. Here are some tips you can try.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Researchshows that people with ADHD often have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, leading to daytime fatigue and a worsening of symptoms. Consider setting up a night routine to help you get into sleep mode. Other tips include making sure your sleeping area is a comfortable temperature and trying relaxation techniques to quiet your mind before bed.
- Build exercise into your daily routine. Studies suggest that even a little bit of regular physical exercise may help boost motivation, improve memory, and lower impulsiveness in children and adults with ADHD.
- Check in with yourself. At the top of each hour, make sure you’re hydrated and fed. If it helps, set alarms that remind to you drink water and eat.
People living with ADHD can face judgment from others who don’t understand their condition, causing them to develop a negative view of themselves and their capabilities.
Learning to reframe these views and believe in your worth can help make you more confident in your abilities and more productive. Here are some tips to help.
- You might try keeping an affirmation journal in which you write out positive statements. The idea is to practice uplifting self-talk about who you are and what you’re accomplishing.
- Aim to keep tiny promises to yourself. This might be making your bed, walking around the block, or replying to an email. The particular promise doesn’t matter — the idea is to build confidence in yourself.
- Try to embrace your strengths. Living with ADHD often means you have a unique perspective to offer the world. Lean in to your passions and pursue the things that make you feel your best.
- Remind yourself that your worth is not defined by your productivity. Be gentle and understanding toward yourself, even when you don’t achieve a goal.
Asking for help can be scary, but there are people out there who will support you on your journey.
- Identify someone in your life to help keep you accountable to your goals. They can help remind you of tasks and check in with you when you need it.
- Try working with someone else in the room. Having a “body double” (someone who sits with you while you work on tasks) can help you focus, even if they’re just working on their own projects.
- Remember that you’re not alone. Consider turning to local or online ADHD communities to build a social support system.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming at times. But there are strategies you can try to help make your life and your child’s life easier.
Keep in mind that every child with ADHD is unique. What works for one might not work for another. It may take time to find the right strategies that work for you, your child, and your family.
Here are some tips you can try.
- Ownership. Where appropriate, it can be useful to adapt some of the strategies outlined above and implement them with your child. For example, if it’s age appropriate, you might involve your child in setting goals, breaking down tasks into smaller parts, and building their ideal work environment. By giving your child ownership in the process, you’ll help build their confidence and make tasks seem more achievable.
- Rewards. Many children with ADHD have trouble with motivation and may want to give up when a task is demanding or confusing.
Researchshows that frequent, immediate rewards for completing tasks may help your child learn. Gamifying tasks with a timer and rewarding your child after a task is complete can boost their motivation.
- Structure. Children with ADHD sometimes have trouble understanding what’s expected of them. Establishing a clear structure and consistent routine can help your child stay on track.
- Praise. Reinforcing positive behaviors can help your child build the self-esteem they need to thrive. Foster their passions, encourage their strengths, and praise them when they succeed.
- Support. Be your child’s advocate. Work with teachers, doctors, and school counselors to share and learn your child’s needs. By adapting lessons and learning outcomes, they can help your children thrive in all areas of life.
- Play. Make time for unstructured play. Being able to play freely for some time each day can be a good outlet for children with ADHD to discover their unique strengths and develop their imaginations.
- Exercise. Studies suggest that exercise can improve motivation and focus in children with ADHD. Help your child find physical activity they enjoy and build it into their schedule.
If you’re living with ADHD and need more help getting organized, staying on task, and getting motivated, check out some of our helpful pages:
- 9 Tips for Creating a Routine for Adults with ADHD
- 9 Ways for Adults with ADHD to Get Motivated
- 32 of the Best Ways to Get Organized When You Have ADHD
- How to Stay Productive with ADHD
- Living with ADHD: Tips to Focus and Stay on Task
- Parenting Kids with ADHD: 12 Tips to Tackle Common Challenges
- Tips on How to Focus with ADHD
If you’re looking for additional help, consider an ADHD Coach. A coach can teach you tips and tricks to accomplish your goals. You can check out the ADHD Coaches Organization to find a coach that best fits you and your needs.
Whether you’re seeking coping strategies for yourself, your child, or someone else in your life, it’s important to remember that everyone with ADHD has unique experiences, lifestyles, and personalities.
Not every tip listed will work for everyone with ADHD. Choose coping strategies that resonate with you, and try implementing one small change at a time.
For instance, you might identify a time management tool or relaxation tool and commit to trying it for one or two weeks before moving to another strategy.
Consider reaching out to a loved one to talk about coping strategies and ask for support when you need it.
Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, and it may take some trial and error to find the strategies that best fit you.