Tips for Thriving in the World with ADHD
In an increasingly productive world, individuals with ADHD stand out as a unique and vibrant group. With such a distinguishably unique group comes along with challenges and conditions one must learn to understand and learn to thrive with. So in this article, we will explore ways in which ADHD individuals can harness their unique strengths to excel in a busy and ever-changing world, while also providing strategies that can help them overcome the hurdles they may encounter along the way.
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects all age groups. Although ADHD can affect all age groups, different symptoms can show up in different parts of a person’s life; ADHD presents symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning and quality of life.
The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors. While there is no cure for ADHD, it can certainly be effectively managed and treated with various interventions, including medication, therapy, behavioral strategies, and lifestyle adjustments.
The Primary Symptoms of ADHD
Inattention. Individuals with ADHD often have difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or activities, make careless mistakes, have trouble organizing tasks, and frequently lose important items. They may also appear forgetful and easily distracted.
Impulsivity. People with ADHD may act without thinking about the consequences, interrupt others during conversations or activities, and have difficulty waiting their turn. This impulsivity can lead to impulsive decision making and risky behaviors.
Hyperactivity. While not everyone with ADHD displays hyperactivity, it is a common symptom, especially in children. Hyperactive individuals may fidget, tap their feet, or have difficulty remaining seated when expected. In adults, this may manifest as restlessness. When it comes to thinking patterns, ADHD can cause individuals to have racing thoughts, difficulty with sustained attention, intrusive thoughts, overthinking, and difficulty organizing thoughts.
ADHD is a complex condition with various subtypes, including predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation, which includes both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. It can have a significant impact on an individual’s academic performance, work, relationships, and overall well-being.
It’s important to note that ADHD is a real and legitimate medical condition, and individuals with ADHD often benefit from understanding and getting support from their families, educators, and healthcare professionals to help them thrive despite its challenges.
Dive deeper into the knowledge of ADHD in our past blog, Demystifying Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Unique Strengths with ADHD
Since ADHD brings so many unique strengths to the table, we wanted to shed light on a few of them.
Creativity. Many individuals with ADHD have exceptionally creative minds. They often think outside of the box, make unexpected connections, and come up with innovative ideas. This creativity can be a valuable asset in fields like art, design, music, and problem-solving.
Hyperfocus. While difficulties with focus are common, individuals with ADHD can also experience “hyperfocus.” When something captures their interest, they become deeply engrossed and intensely, they can become deeply engrossed and intensely focused for extended periods. This can lead to exceptional productivity and achievement in specific areas of interest.
Resilience. Managing the challenges of ADHD can build resilience and adaptability. Individuals with ADHD often develop strong coping skills and perseverance in the face of setbacks, which can serve them well in many aspects of life.
Enthusiasm and Passion. People with ADHD tend to approach their interests and passions with great enthusiasm and energy. This passion can be infectious and inspire others to get involved and engaged.
Divergent Thinking. ADHD individuals often excel in divergent thinking, which involves generating multiple solutions to a problem. This ability can be beneficial in brainstorming sessions, creative problem-solving, and entrepreneurship.
Intuition. Some individuals with ADHD have strong intuition and a heightened ability to read social and emotional cues. This can make them insightful and empathetic, qualities that are valuable in interpersonal relationships and careers involving psychology, counseling, or social work.
Adaptability. ADHD individuals are often adaptable and flexible in their thinking. They can thrive in dynamic and rapidly changing environments, such as crisis management or emergency response situations.
High Energy Levels. Many individuals with ADHD have abundant physical and mental energy. When properly directed, this energy can lead to exceptional achievements in sports, physical activities, or careers that demand high levels of energy.
Personal Insight from BYBS Team Members
Before we stem into ways in which individuals with ADHD can thrive in different environments, we wanted to go down a more genuine route and provide personal insight from two members from BYBS, who have been previously diagnosed with ADHD and can naturally empathize with these unique conditions.
ROCHELLE YOUNG BYBS Clinician
“As someone with ADHD, I get overstimulated and disassociate pretty easily. I find myself thinking about everything I have to do in a day, getting overstimulated by the tasks and magnitude of it all, and then disassociating on an app until it’s literal crunch time and I have 5 minutes to do a 30-minute task.
When this happens, I like to turn my tasks into a game. For example, if I would really like to start organizing my house, but I’m overwhelmed by how much needs to be done, I’ll set a timer for 15-minute, put on some hype music, and challenge myself to get as much done as possible. Am I running around like a maniac? Absolutely. But I’m having a grand ole’ time.
When it comes to my ADHD, I struggle with start-up, avoidance, and commitment. In the example above, I’m struggling to start my task of organizing because I’m overstimulated by how much needs to be done. I know in the back of my mind that once I start, I’ll have more desire to keep going, but the time commitment to cleaning is overwhelming, so I unintentionally avoid it by dissociating on the couch. Creating a 15-minute game fixes the problem. I have created a low commitment; only dedicate fifteen minutes of time, and I’ve jump-started the start-up with a personal challenge; how much can I get done in that time. Kind of like jumping into a cold pool, I find more often than not, once I’ve started, I have the motivation and desire to keep going and I feel a bit more accomplished!”
ALAYNA DORFMAN BYBS Content Creator
“When I was in school, I found it extremely difficult to read lengthy chapters, sit still for hour-long classes, and listen to long lectures without zoning out. I had temporarily tried the medication route (Vyvanse), which helped with my focus, but I decided that I wanted to find more natural alternatives. Four years later, I have learned how to understand my ADHD symptoms and how to effectively take care of them.
Here are some tips that have helped me personally thrive in the world:
A supportive and understanding circle matters. When I present some of my ADHD qualities, I don’t feel judged by the people around me anymore. This one’s big. When I was surrounded by a different group, my symptoms used to be the center of many jokes, and it didn’t come from a loving place. Now, I feel like I can be more open about when I’m struggling to focus in a conversation or feel a random itch to move around. My friends are more understanding, and it helps me feel more confident and prouder of my unique qualities.
Get work done early. I have learned how doing remote work and academic-focused activities first thing in the morning significantly helps with my focus level. Since it’s right in the morning and I haven’t been exposed to any other stimuli (interactions, phone notifications), my brain then feels calm and ready to take in more information, without getting side-tracked. This is something I’ve learned to do that significantly helps with my productivity.
Allow breaks. As someone with ADHD, I regularly feel the anxious need to move around. When I’m sitting in a place for too long, I fixate on the need to move, and it disrupts my focus. When I infuse exercise breaks into my routine, I feel fulfilled in that physical area and can proceed with my activity that requires deep, attentive focus.”
Now that we’ve gone through some personal insight from two of our BYBS team members, we wanted to include additional ways in which ADHD individuals can thrive in the world.
Additional Tips to Help Thrive
Break Tasks into Smaller Steps. Break down larger tasks or projects into smaller, more manageable tasks in order to alleviate stress levels and allow more time for breaks.
Get Organized. Use tools like planners, calendars, or digital apps to keep track of tasks, appointments, and deadlines. Create a structured daily routine to establish consistency and reduce impulsivity.
Minimize Distractions. Create a distraction-free workspace with minimal clutter.
Self-Care. Prioritizing self-care practices like exercise, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet
Sensory Environment. Create a conducive work and living environment. Minimize distractions, use noise-canceling headphones, and organize your space to reduce clutter.
Breaks and Rewards. Take regular breaks during tasks to avoid burnout. Reward yourself for completing tasks or achieving goals, even if they are small.
Limit Multitasking. While it may seem like a good idea, multitasking can be counterproductive for individuals with ADHD. Try to focus on one task at a time.
Learn to say No. Don’t overcommit yourself. Prioritize your responsibilities and commitments and be willing to decline additional tasks or projects that might overwhelm you.
Hobbies and Interests. Pursue activities you are passionate about. Engaging in enjoyable hobbies can provide an outlet for excess energy and improve your overall well-being.
Embrace your Uniqueness. Remember that ADHD can come with its own set of strengths, such as creativity, spontaneity, and problem-solving skills. Embrace these qualities and use them to your advantage!
Stay Informed. Keep up with the latest research and resources related to ADHD. Learning more about your condition can empower you to manage it effectively.
Managing ADHD can be an ongoing process, and what works best for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to be patient with yourself, adapt your strategies as needed, and seek professional guidance when necessary. ADHD doesn’t define you, but it’s a part of who you are, and you can learn to thrive with it!
Meet one of our fellow BYBS clinicians who can help meet your unique needs through empathetic and professional care:
Areas of Expertise: stress management, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief/loss, family issues, life transitions, communication, women’s issues, family issues.
“As a natural strategist and information gatherer, I focus on learning about you! This includes your past, present, and future. Therefore, my approach to therapy is person-centered and holistic. I have found that many of the things that hinder us from moving forward are our own coping mechanisms, something that may have once served us well in the past but is no longer working for us now. I will teach you techniques to manage ruminating thoughts or other anxieties you may be struggling with by exploring the root of these thoughts and practicing strategies together in a safe and comfortable space. My experience in teaching taught me that we are curious creatures, and that education can hold a lot of power in healing! Understanding what is happening in your brain and body can help you increase self-resilience and patience. I can help you develop a deeper understanding of your own thoughts and behaviors as well as how to use meditative techniques such as grounding, guided imagery, and deep breathing to release your stress and overwhelm and feel more grounded and calmer. The therapy process with me is collaborative and will mean learning more about yourself, how some of your coping mechanisms may be keeping you stuck, how to be mindful and intentional with your life and create a new, healthier, happier version of you!”
If you’re interested in scheduling a free 15-minute consultation with Rochelle Young or any of our other clinicians, get started here.
Thriving in the world with ADHD is not only possible but attainable with the right strategies, support, and mindset. While living with ADHD can present unique challenges, it also offers a spectrum of strengths and creative abilities. By embracing a holistic approach that combines time-management skills, self-care, and a supportive network, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling lives.