Did you know that ADD/ADHD diagnoses have more than doubled in adolescents and increased 5-fold for adults in recent years? Surprisingly, ADD/ADHD is a condition that doesn't just affect children, but also many of us into our adulthood and throughout our lives.
Will mindfulness for ADHD work for you? Keep reading to learn more...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): is a common neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is marked by symptoms including difficulty staying focused, difficulty controlling behavior, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness.
Can Mindfulness Help with ADHD?
Fortunately for those suffering from this condition, there are lifestyle changes such as mindfulness, which include effective techniques that are proven to help reduce the symptoms of ADHD, improve focus, productivity, and quality of life.
As we break this down, we'll cover the benefits of mindfulness for ADHD, its impact on the brain, and how to integrate it into your life, should you decide to.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, however, let's go over a scenario following Sophie, an ADHD sufferer, to learn how the condition affects her life.
Finding Focus & Losing Distractions
Sophie woke up early today, full of ambition to finish an important work project, tackle the laundry and meet with an old friend for dinner. But as she rolled out of bed, her phone buzzed and rattled. And as soon as she picked up her phone, she found herself lost in a sea of notifications, social media, and endless scrolling.
With her phone buzzing constantly, Sophie took an hour to put her clothes on. She had every intention to taking advantage of her early start, but her mind kept wandering to random thoughts, ideas, and impulses. She felt restless and overwhelmed, unable to stay on track.
As the day went on, Sophie's ADHD symptoms only worsened. She struggled to remember important details about her work project, she totally forgot her clothes in the dryer, and was later to dinner. She felt frustrated and disappointed in herself, wondering why she couldn't just "get things done" like everyone else.
Sophie decided the next day, she would try a more mindful approach.
What is Mindfulness, & How Does it Work for ADHD?
Mindfulness is a state of awareness that involves focusing on the present moment and experiencing it how it is. This awareness involves paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a non-judgmental way.
Your mindful meaning will surely differ from others, but by practicing mindfulness, individuals with ADHD can learn to better regulate their thoughts and emotions, leading to improved focus, productivity, and overall well-being.
Simple Mindfulness Techniques and Practices for ADHD
- Turn off Notifications: Adjust the frequency of notifications within the settings of your hand-held devices. Ensure you receive only the most critical updates that support your goals.
- Breath Awareness: Pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out. Pay close attention to the sensation of air entering and leaving your body. Count your breaths until your thoughts clear.
- Create a To-Do List: When time permits, create a list of tasks sorted by a priority number for what's most important for you to feel productive. It helps to do this the night before you want to do them as a part of a winding-down ritual.
- Anchor Yourself with Music: When feeling productive, create a playlist of music you do not normally listen to, and play this music alongside your rush of productivity. The more productive you feel, the more powerful this anchoring technique is.
- Clean Your Space in Small Bursts: Instead of channeling your desire to clean all day once a week, try breaking up your cleaning regimen throughout the week. Try keeping them segmented in 15 minute bursts, so you won't come up with excuses why you cannot.
- Ground Yourself with Intention: Instead of quickly moving from task to task, take some time to bring yourself into the present moment by feeling the texture of something you own. Breathe deeply while feeling the texture and say an affirmative phrase like, "I am here now. I am capable of doing anything and everything I set my mind to."
- Mantra Repetition: Repeat that word or phrase to yourself as many times as necessary, either silently or out loud, to calm your mind and refocus.
- Gratitude Practice: Take time each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for, whether it's a person, a place, or a situation. Even if you failed to complete everything on your list, remember that being mindful is not about being productive, but accepting everything as it is, right now, without judgement.
How Can Sophie Use these Techniques?
After a rough day and feeling defeated, Sophie decided to incorporate some of the mindfulness techniques from the list above.
First, she went through her phone and tablet settings to turn off the notifications from social media. She realized that the posts and comments appearing on her timelines, first thing in the morning, did not support her growth as a person.
Before going to bed, Sophie decided to brain dump all of her thoughts into her new journal, intending to show gratefulness for her experiences, and an acceptance that not everything has to go as planned. Then, she took a few deep breaths and wrote down a quick to-do list, numbering her tasks in order of importance for the upcoming day.
The next morning, she woke up to her alarm, but that was the only notification on her phone. Without unnecessary distractions, she placed her phone on the bedside table and prepared her shower.
After an invigorating shower, and feeling ready to take on her tasks from the night before, she put on some lo-fi electronic jazz music to help her focus and anchor this feeling.
Throughout the day, Sophie reminded herself to feel the textures of her surroundings, grounding herself in the present moment. She set an intention for the day and repeated a verbal intention as she sensed her surroundings between tasks.
Sophie broke her day into sprints, focusing on each task one at a time, avoiding distractions and staying on track. Since she had a lot of cleaning to do, but decided to make her house-cleaning a weeklong task, she tidied up between her work projects.
By the end of the day, not only had she completed all of her tasks, but she felt proud of her accomplishments. She took time before bed to reflect on her successes, but was mindful that not every day would go this smoothly.
Sophie learned that utilizing mindfulness techniques could help her cope with her ADHD symptoms and achieve her goals. This realization gave her a sense of relief and hope for the future, knowing that even she could find focus and success with the right tools and mindset.
The Impact of Mindfulness on the Brain
Studies have shown that mindfulness can have a positive impact on the brain, particularly in areas related to attention and impulse control.
When we practice mindfulness, we activate the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and impulse control.
Additionally, mindfulness has been shown to increase the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
Meditation and yoga practice can be especially helpful for individuals with ADHD, who often struggle with anxiety and stress.
How often should I practice mindfulness for ADHD?
Daily. When starting out, try practicing one technique per day for at least 10-15 minutes. Just know that it can be beneficial to practice more frequently if you have the time.
Can mindfulness cure ADHD?
While mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of ADHD, it is not a cure. However, incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can have a significant impact on mitigating the symptoms and restoring your quality of life.
Is mindfulness safe for children with ADHD?
Yes, mindfulness is safe for children with ADHD. In fact, mindfulness can be especially beneficial for children with ADHD as it can help them develop emotional regulation skills, improve their attention and focus, and reduce stress and anxiety. However, it is essential to always consult with a pediatrician or mental health professional beforehand.
Do I need to take a class to practice mindfulness for ADHD?
You do not need to take a class to practice mindfulness, but courses can be helpful in learning the techniques and getting support from others. There are also many mindfulness apps and online resources that can be helpful for individuals with ADHD.
As Sophie learned by adjusting to a more mindful lifestyle, practicing mindfulness is a highly effective tool for reducing her symptoms of ADHD by improving her focus and productivity.
By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, you can significantly impact your overall well-being and manage the challenges associated with ADHD symptoms.
With its numerous benefits, mindfulness can be an excellent choice for individuals looking to improve their quality of life. Remember to start small. Whether you choose to practice mindfulness on your own or with the support of a class or app, do it with the intention of making it a regular part of your routine.
Do you suffer from ADD/ADHD but have found success with mindfulness? What sort of things have you done to improve your life? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share this article with a friend who might benefit from it.