How to THRIVE with ADHD

How to thrive with ADHD

by take-a-break |
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There are some lifestyle changes that will make a big difference...

How to thrive with ADHD

Over the past two decades, the number of people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has soared — especially among adults.

However, the condition remains underdiagnosed in women.

Dr Tony Lloyd, CEO of the ADHD Foundation, explains: ‘The rise we’re seeing in diagnoses is not an epidemic — ADHD is still significantly underdiagnosed, particularly in women — but driven by greater understanding and less stigma. And it’s important, because while some people can navigate life with ADHD without help or intervention, many people will struggle.’

Dr Aarthi Sinha, GP and the founder of Church Crescent Medical Practice, has a family member with ADHD and agrees. She says: ‘Managing ADHD is crucial because it can impact every area of your life from your work, relationships and home life to your finances and mental health.

‘This is why learning strategies that can help you manage your ADHD is vital. Medication, if you choose to take it, is just one of the tools in your kit. Lifestyle changes are what’s really going to help.’

Here’s how…

Exercise

Dr Sinha says: ‘Exercising is one of the best ways to help manage ADHD. This is because when we exercise or move, our body stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine which can help regulate mood, help us concentrate and improve focus. The impact of this can be short-lived however, so exercise does need to be done daily and be an activity that you enjoy.’

Choose sleep quality over quantity

Dr Lloyd says: ‘A lot of people with ADHD have hyperactive minds, so might find it difficult getting to sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time each day, stay away from screens for two hours before bed and don’t drink any tea or coffee in the evening.’

Dr Sinha says: ‘Try not to have a fixed mindset about how much sleep you need. Some people with neurodivergent conditions may sleep less than the recommended seven to nine hours but are still fine. It’s more about aiming for good quality sleep over quantity.’

Use cues to get organised

Dr Lloyd says: ‘Physical calendars, planners, daily to-do lists, a tick list by the door for when you leave the house every morning can all be useful if you struggle with working memory or inattentiveness.

‘Timers can be useful too in getting organised. You could even program Alexa to send you timed reminders throughout the day.’

Try stress reduction activities

Dr Lloyd says: ‘Developing daily stress reduction routines like slow, deep breathing on the bus into work, or doing some yoga or crafts in the evening can help improve focus and reduce feelings of irritability and stress.’

Dr Sinha says: ‘Mindfulness or meditation can be hugely helpful too, but the nature of this practice could initially feel stressful for someone with ADHD. Instead, start by just trying to do a couple of minutes each day or you might want to modify your experience of mindfulness altogether, for example, walking in nature at a slow place or bouncing on an exercise ball for a few minutes.’

Harness the power of routine

Dr Sinha says: ‘Routine can be helpful for reducing overwhelm. For example, you may find it easier to exercise at the same time every day or to have set days for cleaning different areas of the house. Having routine places where you keep things such as your keys, phone and wallet can also help save endless hours looking for items.’

Recognise your own challenges

Dr Sinha: ‘Everyone is different so try to think of personalised strategies that help with your experience of ADHD. For example, if you struggle concentrating, you might look at how you can break tasks down into chunks or keep your phone in another room to minimise distractions. If you struggle with sensory processing, you might consider wearing ear defenders in especially noisy environments.’

Use resources

Dr Lloyd says: ‘If you have or think you may have ADHD, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. There are some excellent websites, videos and booklets out there. The key is to be informed and to make informed decisions.’

• For more info please visit adhdfoundation.org.uk, staringbackatme.co.uk, canddid.nhs.uk/adhd and churchcrescent.co.uk

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