ADHD Tips for Coping With Stressors

Think (yes, right now!) about what you, a person with ADHD, do naturally, without anyone bugging you or guilt-tripping you, to have fun and find pleasure and relief from stress. Maybe you thought of things that were exciting enough to capture and hold your attention, that were thrilling, risky, or — if you’re honest — even a little dangerous. To gain a sense of control over things, get your hormones flowing, stimulate your brain in healthy ways, take your mind off the news, and stay healthy, the following tips might help:

  1. Keep moving! Run or walk (in your living room, on a treadmill, up and down stairs, on the street).
  2. Play video games! Especially exciting ones that challenge you. I recommend race car driving or space exploration over “shooter” games, but that’s your choice.
  3. Follow medical advice. If you’re taking medication for ADHD, follow your doctor’s orders, and make sure you have enough on hand. These meds maintain a healthy balance of chemicals in your brain.
  4. Get unreal! Get yourself a virtual reality headset (you can get the functional fold-out one for under $5), pop your mobile phone into it, and “go” where you want. Your brain will love it. Set a 30-minute timer and give your eyes and brain a rest. The chemicals you’re generating can be addictive for a brain that doesn’t produce enough on its own.
  5. Listen to music that “rocks” you, whatever your musical tastes. Dance if the spirit moves you. The parts of your ADHD brain that register stress and put you in fight-or-flight mode don’t operate when you’re listening to music. Singing with the music or humming along will add to your pleasure.
  6. Mega-clean your room, apartment, or entire house. If you’re the kind of person who gets in a “zone” while cleaning, this will be a win-win for you. It will activate the health-oriented parts of your brain, disinfect your surroundings, and give you a sense of accomplishment. You’ll be in control, a state that wards off anxiety.
  7. Make stuff, write stuff, cook stuff. Find some short-term projects for which you have the materials and skills to successfully complete—painting, song or poetry writing, crafting, baking—things that produce a tangible product you will be proud to show to or share with others. The human brain craves success. It is wired to remember failure, because it doesn’t want us to repeat it. Science tells us that it takes three successful experiences to make up for one failure.
  8. Binge-watch TV! The more exciting the show, the more your brain is activated. But watch only what you like; otherwise the boredom buzzer will go off. Choose shows with short episodes. Surf to keep it interesting.
  9. Read some good news! Or at least alternate some good news with the bad. You should skip the obituary page.
  10. Tickle your funny bone. Watch comedy shows or listen to comedy podcasts. A joke is a good neuro-fix. It’s biochemically impossible for a laughing brain to worry.
  11. Ommm. Your brain shouldn’t be kept on high alert all the time, no matter how much it craves novel experiences. If you give it a break with yoga (or a nap), it has a chance to reset before turning on the steam again

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