Looking back on my teen years, I can remember the struggles my parents faced with a child with ADHD. What follows are some simple tips on how to naturally treat ADHD in children and adults.
I would also suggest working on mindfulness and trying it on small things: eating, washing dishes, textures, folding clothes, and some short format meditations at home.
Sleep is one of the most common battles I see for teenagers. A sleep-deprived brain with or without ADHD is more likely to make mistakes on a test or on anything that checks functioning.
Research testing on people who slept less than six hours a night for a week revealed substantial changes in the activity of genes that govern the immune system, metabolism, sleep and wake cycles, and the body’s response to stress, suggesting that poor sleep could have a broad impact on long-term wellbeing.
The changes, which apparently affected more than 700 genes, may help to shed light on the biological mechanisms that raise the risk of a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress, and depression, in people who get too little sleep.
Kids need to practice good sleep hygiene. This can be things like getting them an alarm clock and not having their cell phone charge next to their bed. Taking a hot shower 90 minutes before bed. Drinking milk. Reading a book. Going to bed or getting in bed at the same time every night.
Food is the fuel for our bodies and mind. Dietitians and psychiatrists suggest a well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein. Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity. Make sure they have snacks they can easily bring with them during the day like Larabars.
Exercise is essential for kids and adults with ADHD:
When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which helps with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brain.
Fitness can have the following benefits for adults with ADHD:
- Ease stress and anxiety.
- Improve impulse control and reduce compulsive behavior.
- Enhance working memory.
- Improve executive function. That’s the set of skills needed to plan, organize, and remember details.
- Increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. That’s a protein involved in learning and memory. It’s in short supply in people with ADHD.
- Stay at a healthy weight. That’s important because evidence suggests that people with ADHD are more likely to become obese.
- Reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a normal range.
- Strengthen your bones.
- Improve your mood and self-esteem.
How do people with ADHD learn:
- Do they learn at home or in groups?
- Does using the Pomodoro technique work (breaking things into small time slices)?
- Music without words (Calm or Headspace)
- In their bedroom, in the kitchen, or at a coffee shop?
- Do frequent breaks help?
- Don’t go EAST (everything at the same time) start with a small chunk.
- 45 minutes a day for 4 days or cramming (hint, cramming doesn’t work) and sleep helps you replay the material in your mind. (tip: using essential oils in study space and by bed)
- Pay attention to what distracts and see if they are right.
- Take 10-15 minutes before bed to review what you learned or review notes daily.
- Use breaks like walking the dog or shooting hoops.
- A power nap of 20 minutes but no more than 30 or interferes with sleep.
- Frequent breaks help.
- Sipping a sugary drink increases glucose and focus.
If you like this article and would like additional resources on ADHD and time management, simple ADHD treatment strategies, or if you want to learn more about ADHD in general, check out the other resources on our website.