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Growing up with ADD and working as a therapist with clients with ADD, there are a number of things that I have found which help to manage symptoms of ADD for kids, teens, and adults. Below are 5 easy tips to manage ADD.
- Sleep – This may sound ridiculous but sleep issues are one of the first issues a psychiatrist will scan for when meeting with new clients. Why is this important for ADD? ADD can look like a lot of things and if someone has sleep apnea, they may also display some symptoms of ADD. Also, if a person actually has ADD, issues with sleep can greatly decrease ones ability for attention. Good sleep hygiene is essential for mastering sleep cycles and giving yourself a good shot at restful sleep. People with ADD may have difficulty with falling asleep, restless sleep, difficulty waking, and intrusive sleep — or falling asleep after a period of hyper focus.
- Exercise – I almost consider my life broken into two parts — before I started working out and after. For years I had a ton of energy and it always took a lot for my brain to settle down and focus. I started working out regularly at the end of high school and noticed on the days I did, it was easier to focus and get my work done. It made me feel better and have greater ability to stay in a state of flow while doing work. Exercise has a lot of wonderful affects but a primary one aside from increasing blood flow to the brain is a substance the brain releases is knows as brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which promotes growth of new brain cells. Regular exercise also helps fight depression and anxiety. Whether you go to the gym, run, or walk, this can be enough to increase dopamine levels in your body which can help counteract the problems of inattention and lack of motivation. A psychiatrist once told me, “even if you only have 5-10 minutes for a short run, do it.” Their reasoning being that doing something is always better than nothing and it helps you get on track or stay on track. This reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain calendar” which helped him to stay on task with behaviors he wanted to increase.
- Meditation – I have been one of the late additions to the meditation and mindfulness crowd but after trying it out myself and with some clients, I have seen sizable gains. One of the most difficult things for me with my ADD in college was calming down the racing thoughts in my head. Meditation helps you to flex the muscle of your mind to notice where your mind goes and be able to feel more present with what pulls at your focus. This helps you to be more mindful of ways to counteract those things that distract. Meditation can help with sleep, focus, anxiety, depression, etc. If you want to learn more, watch the TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe. It only takes a few minutes per day to implement, can be done anywhere, and apps like Headspace make it very easy to build your practice and focus your results.
- Diet –
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been found to be helpful for people with ADD. This can only be found through diet and supplements. As a tip, the best supplements have 3 times more EPA than DHA.
- High protein diet – Protein has been found to help prevent surges in sugar and it can boost neurotransmitters. It also helps to keep the rest of the diet balanced and healthy as well with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Therapy – ADD affects the lives of those with it in every way possible: work, relationships, school, and their self esteem to name a few.
- Self esteem – Being told for years that you are off task, being redirected by parents and teachers, getting in trouble for being impulsive, and knowing you have difficulty focusing can easily affect self esteem. Add on top of this kids and adolescents notice that most of their peers do not have this same difficulty and it can make for a rough experience growing up.
- Relationships – Being forgetful when you are trying to remember things, acting impulsively, running late, and getting distracted are all par for the course with ADD. This can easily add stress to relationships and make a persons partner feel frustrated.
- Work – Running behind on deadlines, poor communication, difficulty organizing projects, running late to work, and having difficulty focusing on the highest priorities are all areas of potential difficulty for someone with ADD.
If you or someone you know is struggling with ADD whether it be a child, teen, adult, or someone struggling with ADD’s effect in their marriage, we can help. You can contact us to make a counseling appointment or read more about ADHD counseling on our dedicated page.
Curious if you, your partner, or your child might have ADD? Take a quiz to find out.