Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can manifest in impulsiveness, hyperactivity, inattention, or a combination of these characteristics. The symptoms can make some everyday activities challenging. Certain strategies can help adults with ADHD cope with and feel more in control of the challenges they face.
These strategies include techniques that help people organize and manage their time, environment, tasks, finances, and stress levels. They may produce multiple benefits, such as helping people keep up with appointments and bills and enabling them to focus on and complete tasks.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, ADHD affects approximately 4% of the adult population in the United States, which translates to about 8 million individuals. However, research suggests that less than 20% of adults with ADHD have received a diagnosis or treatment.
This article discusses six coping strategies that might help adults living with ADHD. It also looks at the diagnostic process and explains the importance of seeking professional help.
A planner can help people keep track of what they need to do on a given day. A person can record the dates and times of appointments, meetings, and other commitments in the planner and refer to it frequently.
It also helps to make a scheduled routine. When doing so, individuals should allow more time than they feel is necessary for each task.
Also, to stick to a schedule, it is best to avoid the distraction of checking phones and other devices often. A person can try setting an alarm to help them limit the amount of time they spend looking at their phone.
The effort that it takes to organize a room, home, or workspace may reduce anxiety and increase productivity. A person can start by reducing clutter, which will make the endeavor easier. Then, they should ensure that they have to hand any necessary organizational tools, such as storage bins.
Grouping similar things together helps make them easy to locate. It is generally also helpful to have a designated place for putting essentials, such as keys and wallets.
A person looking to organize and manage tasks should first make a list of things to do on a given day after checking their planner. Then, they can prioritize the tasks based on importance and time sensitivity.
The next step is to break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. A person should plan to work in small increments of time, such as 15-minute periods, with 5-minute breaks between them.
Focusing on one thing at a time will increase the likelihood of completing a task, so it is best to refrain from trying to multitask.
Distractions when driving pose a danger to anyone, but they represent a greater hazard to people with ADHD. It is essential to avoid talking or texting on a cell phone when driving. A person can remove the temptation and avoid noisy distractions by turning off notifications before starting their trip.
People who find it difficult to manage their finances may benefit from setting up reminders on a calendar to pay bills before their due dates. Using online banking makes managing bills easier because it does not involve paper clutter. Such online systems also provide a record of the date a person pays a bill.
When ADHD leads to disorganization and impulsiveness, it may result in unhealthy lifestyle practices that can increase stress, lower mood, and provoke feelings of not being in control. Measures that may help offset these effects include:
- Getting enough physical activity: A person should aim to exercise daily and spend some time outdoors.
- Avoiding sleep deprivation: Abstaining from caffeine consumption late in the day and aiming for a regular sleep-wake schedule may help people get more, better quality sleep.
- Eating a well-balanced diet: A nonnutritious diet may worsen ADHD symptoms, so it is important to include a healthy protein at each meal and eat several servings of whole grains per day. At the same time, people should avoid sugar and fast food.
- Practicing mindfulness: This practice involves directing the attention to the present moment, which may reduce impulsiveness and improve focus.
Also, the symptoms must be evident in at least two aspects of life, such as home, work, family, or friends. Additionally, these symptoms must be significant enough to interfere with functioning in these areas.
Examples of inattention symptoms include:
- frequent loss of essential items, such as keys
- forgetfulness in tasks, such as paying bills and keeping appointments
- challenges in endeavors, such as:
- organizing tasks
- paying close attention
- following directions
- sustaining attention for long periods
Examples of hyperactivity symptoms include:
- interrupting others
- experiencing extreme restlessness
- talking excessively
- having difficulty waiting in line
- fidgeting or squirming
In addition to evaluating the person’s current symptoms, the doctor will look at their medical history. The diagnostic process may also involve psychological tests that evaluate a person’s memory, decision-making skills, and reasoning ability.
Once a person receives a diagnosis, they can start treatment. Although medications are the primary treatment, most individuals also benefit from psychological, behavioral, and coaching strategies. An example of a psychological strategy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which may help someone identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
Living with ADHD may also involve experiencing significant levels of anxiety and other mental health symptoms. A healthcare professional can tailor the treatment to address all of a person’s specific needs.
Effective treatment can make everyday life less difficult for people with ADHD and their families. A person seeking help may use the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides this search tool for finding mental health services and treatment programs in each state.
Adult ADHD strategies can help people cope with the problems that impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention can create.
Eliminating distractions when driving can promote safety, while setting up calendar reminders can offset forgetfulness, and organizing spaces can prevent the loss of essentials.
Doctors base an ADHD diagnosis on a person’s symptoms, medical history, and, in some cases, the results of psychological tests. Medications and other forms of treatment can help people who receive a diagnosis manage the symptoms.