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The other day I was reflecting in my journal about my 2.5 year journey into learning everything I can about ADHD, and how to thrive with it. As the personal reflections started pouring out, I thought – this is great stuff! I should share this with my readers.
So here it is, a list of insights and tips from my own journey, that I hope help you on your journey as well.
My ADHD Learning Style is Different – I just thought I was stupid
As someone who was a terrible student, and eventually dropped out of high school, I just assumed school wasn’t for me, and that I just wasn’t smart. I think my parents believed that too, so they never really encouraged me to stay in school.
Well, boy were we all wrong! It turns out, I am a good student, and I have an undergraduate and Master’s degree in Psychology to prove it.
So my first insight is that, if you did poorly in school, it’s likely that you just didn’t enjoy the subjects you were learning, or the way you were being taught. To that end, here’s some tips to help you embrace your inner student:
Find your passion and emotionally connect with your learning
As an ADHD individual, traditional learning methods may not always work for us. Personally, I struggled as a student, except when it came to subjects that truly interested me, like theater. I realized that I needed an emotional connection to the subject I was learning in order to thrive academically. So, my first tip is to find your passion and seek out subjects that emotionally resonate with you. When you are genuinely interested and engaged, your ability to learn and absorb information dramatically improves.
Explore alternative learning resources
Books may not always be the ideal medium for individuals with ADHD. I found that authors often belabor points, making it challenging for me to stay focused. Instead, consider seeking out podcast interviews with authors of books you’re interested in. These interviews often cover the key points and allow you to absorb the information more efficiently.
Additionally, I discovered that I learn best from YouTubers, podcasters, and even individuals on Instagram who share their knowledge and experiences. Find the “teachers” who resonate with you and make learning a pleasurable and engaging experience.
Nurturing Attention and Focus
The term ADHD is really a misnomer, because we don’t have a deficit of attention, we have disregulated attention! Meaning, that we can focus on certain things, but not always the right things. So it goes without saying that our attention and focus, is precious and precarious, and therefore shouldn’t be squandered.
With that said, here’s a few things that have really helped me gain control over my attention and focus, so I can direct them towards the things that are important, even if they’re not interesting.
Curating social media – Or just letting it go altogether
Social media can be a major distraction for individuals with ADHD. To regain control of your attention, be intentional about who you follow and interact with on social media. Remove accounts that do not add value to your life and introduce distractions. Instead, curate your feed with individuals who inspire you, share valuable insights, and align with your interests and values. By consciously selecting the content you consume, you can reduce distractions and create a more focused online experience.
Giving myself space for independent thinking
In the age of information overload, it’s crucial to create space for independent thinking. Take time away from external influences to reflect, process your thoughts, and challenge your own ideas. Avoid falling into decision anxiety by embracing ambiguity and allowing yourself the time and space to explore different perspectives. By cultivating independent thinking, you can develop a stronger sense of self-awareness and make more informed decisions.
ADHD + Nurturing Mental Health
If there’s one thing I know to be true about ADHD, it’s that the severity of symptoms is directly correlated with the quality of mental health we’re experiencing. When things feel hard, our symptoms worsen. When things feel good – symptoms can often fade into the background.
That said, nurturing our mental health is the best ADHD treatment option we have, so it’s got to be a top priority.
Here’s what I’ve learned about prioritizing mental health that seems to work the best for myself and my clients…
Establish routines and prioritize your well-being
For individuals with ADHD, routines and environment play a significant role in mental health and overall well-being. Life-changing events or disruptions to routines can have an immediate impact on focus and attention. I discovered that incorporating a workout routine into my daily life, especially in the morning, had a profound effect on my mental clarity, productivity, and sleep patterns. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. It can provide a sense of accomplishment, clear your mind, and contribute to better overall well-being.
Adopting a mindfulness practice (even if it’s really hard – and yes, it’s really hard)
Meditation has been a game-changer for me in managing ADHD symptoms. The more I invested in meditation, the more benefits I experienced. It helped me gain control over my emotions, improve attention, and enhance overall peace of mind. If you have reservations about meditation, I encourage you to explore different styles and teachers until you find what resonates with you. Apps like Insight Timer offer a wide range of meditation practices and teachers to choose from. Remember, building a consistent meditation practice takes time, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Managing Shiny Object Syndrome
This is something that keeps tripping me up, and it has a significant impact on my mental wellbeing. I keep assuming that life will be SO much better when I hit that next milestone or goal. And when I do, I experience such a let down because my expectations of how I will feel at this new level is never met.
Instead, I just move the goal post forward again and set a new expectation that also feels like a letdown when I reach it. And the cycle goes on and on.
So here’s what I’ve learned from this cycle, and how I’m getting out of it….
Recognize expectation traps for what they are, and get clear on what really makes you feel good.
I discovered that finding fulfillment in small accomplishments, like gardening, cleaning or organizing my surroundings, provided a more gratifying experience. By shifting focus to the present and appreciating the process rather than fixating on future expectations, I can find greater contentment and fulfillment in my daily life.
Cultivating Intuition through Interoception
I’ve noticed that ADHD individuals often excel in perceiving external environments and people. However, we seem to struggle with interoception, the ability to connect with our internal sensations and needs. If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom because you were so distracted by something, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I am convinced that by improving our interoceptive skills, we can enhance our intuition and make more informed decisions. Practices like yoga, meditation, and heart coherence exercises help build this mind-body connection. They allow us to understand our emotions, physical sensations, and overall well-being more deeply. Investing in these practices can lead to better self-awareness and enable us to live our best ADHD lives.
So those are my ADHD insights. Can you relate?
I hope you found these ADHD insights and tips helpful. Remember, you are not alone, and there is a community of individuals navigating similar experiences. That’s why I think sharing our experiences is so important. If makes us feel less alone.
That said, if you have any insights or experiences related to ADHD, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Let’s continue learning and growing together!