Do you have a hard time staying focused and paying attention? Do you talk nonstop or fidget and squirm in your seat? These are just some of the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is considered one of the most common childhood disorders, and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. The disorder affects about 4 percent of American adults ages 18 years and older in a given year.
Clinical psychologist Roberto Olivardia’s clients who have ADHD regularly tell him they feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks. “They feel as if they are in the midst of an avalanche of chores they cannot properly prioritize, organize, or execute,” he says. Tasks such as paying the bills, preparing dinner, or getting the car fixed can feel monumental. On top of that, adults with ADHD can feel frustrated seeing others without ADHD accomplish these tasks with little effort.
If you, too, feel the crushing wave of overwhelm, these reminders and suggestions may help.
- Remember that ADHD isn’t a failure or flaw.
- “First and foremost, accept that ADHD is a valid diagnostic entity and that these difficulties are due to a specific type of brain wiring and not due to willpower,” said Olivardia, Ph.D., a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
- Remember the four Ds.
- “Do, delegate, defer, and drop,” said Beth Main, a certified ADHD coach who helps individuals with ADHD develop the skills, systems, and strategies they need to overcome their challenges and achieve success. That is, when you’re faced with a task, consider if you’re going to do it, ask someone else to do it, schedule it for another time, or drop it altogether.
- Write it down.
- Main suggests creating a master to-do list that includes writing down everything that needs to get done.
- Just do something.
- If you get stuck on figuring out the most important thing to do, just do what comes easiest.
- Take a deep breath.
- Taking a deep breath not only allows our brain to get more oxygen but it gives us distance from all that is bothering us.
- Remember that “this too shall pass.”
- “When your day seems overwhelming, remember this is just a temporary phase, and everything will be OK,” said Sarkis, author of several books on ADHD, including 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction & Accomplish Your Goals.
- Focus on the present.
- “Focusing on the present moment gets you out of your head and reduces the overwhelm,” Main said. That’s because overwhelm spikes when we’re trying to forecast the future or we’re ruminating about the past. Main suggested taking 30 seconds to close your eyes, breathe, and listen to the sounds around you.
- Ask for help.
- Know that there is nothing wrong with getting help or support. Do not feel shame for hiring a housekeeper, a babysitter, a personal trainer, or anyone else that can unload you of your chores.
- Challenge self-defeating thoughts.
- If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, don’t take them at face value. Challenge them, call them out as mere thoughts, not facts, and reframe them into more accurate statements.
Medication guides for ADHD are available from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Use the following quiz by Psych Central to help determine if you need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD as an adult.
Disclaimer: A proper ADHD diagnosis involves interviews and other assessments by trained professionals. You’ll need to see a doctor in order to be diagnosed. This quiz is not intended to offer a medical diagnosis and should not be substituted for one.