Tips for self-regulation for those with ADHD Part 4 | Personal

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Tips for managing stress and boosting mood

Due to the impulsivity and disorganization that often accompany ADHD, you may struggle with erratic sleep, an unhealthy diet, or the effects of too little exercise—all issues that can lead to extra stress, bad moods, and feeling out of control. The best way to stop this cycle is to take charge of your lifestyle habits and create healthy new routines.

Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can help you stay calm, minimize mood swings, and fight any symptoms of anxiety and depression. Healthier habits can also reduce ADHD symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, and distractibility, while regular routines can help your life feel more manageable.

Exercise and spend time outdoors

Working out is perhaps the most positive and efficient way to reduce hyperactivity and inattention from ADHD. Exercise can relieve stress, boost your mood, and calm your mind, helping work off the excess energy and aggression that can get in the way of relationships and feeling stable.

Exercise on a daily basis. Choose something vigorous and fun that you can stick with, like a team sport or working out with a friend.

Increase stress relief by exercising outdoors—people with ADHD often benefit from sunshine and green surroundings.

Try relaxing forms of exercise, such as mindful walking, yoga, or tai chi. In addition to relieving stress, they can teach you to better control your attention and impulses.

Get plenty of sleep

Sleep deprivation can increase symptoms of adult ADHD, reducing your ability to cope with stress and maintain focus during the day. Simple changes to daytime habits go a long way toward ensuring solid nightly sleep.

  • Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Exercise vigorously and regularly, but not within an hour of bedtime.
  • Create a predictable and quiet “bedtime” routine, including taking a hot shower or bath just before bed.
  • Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.

Eat healthfully

While unhealthy eating habits don’t cause ADHD, a poor diet can exacerbate symptoms. By making simple changes in what and how you eat, you may experience big reductions in distractibility, hyperactivity, and stress levels.

  • Eat small meals throughout day.
  • Avoid sugar and junk food as much as possible.
  • Make sure you include healthy protein at every meal.
  • Aim for several servings of fiber-rich whole grains each day.

Practice mindfulness

As well as reducing stress, regular mindfulness meditation can help you to better resist distractions, lower impulsivity, improve your focus, and provide more control over your emotions. Since hyperactivity symptoms can make meditation a challenge for some adults with ADHD, starting slowly can help. Meditate for short periods and gradually increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable with the process—and are better able to maintain focus. The key is to then draw on these mindfulness techniques during your daily life to keep you on track. Experiment with free or inexpensive smartphone apps or online guided meditations.

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