Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be make living autonomously difficult. Life demands attention in many different areas at once. Staying organized, staying focused, and staying on task is more difficult for people with ADD/ADHD than the average person. Thankfully, there is a world of support and tips for managing ADHD in all areas of life.
- Work and Break in Increments: The most the brain can really optimally focus is about 90 minutes. Working on the same task for more than 90 minutes causes strain to the brain and reduces productivity. Entrepreneurs, people living with ADHD/ADD, and students alike swear by productivity timing techniques for becoming more efficient with work and school. Try the “Pomodoro” technique, which encourages alternating 25 minute work or study sprints with 5 minute breaks, for a total of 90 minutes. That’s 3 hard work sprints and 15 total minutes of break time in between. After each 90 minute session, take a 30 minute break. The important part of techniques like these, especially when managing ADD or ADHD is switching the task for the break. ADD and ADHD are high energy, making sitting and concentrating for long periods of time difficult. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in 5 minutes. Get up, move around, and focus your mind on a different task. Put away dishes, make some phone calls, stretch, clean your room incrementally, or fix yourself a brain-boosting snack. Once that 5 minutes is up, you’ll be ready to get back for work. Be flexible- sometimes you need a 10 minute break, but, be careful, it’s easy to get carried away in distraction. Avoid social media, browsing the internet, or doing something mundane as a “reward”.
- Eat Brain Food: Caffeine and high sugar foods, in addition to simple carbohydrates aren’t good for the ADD/ADHD brain. The brain in general needs long lasting soluble fats, amino acids, and proteins. Throughout the day, it is helpful to snack on brain-friendly foods to keep your energy going and your focus strong. A common characteristic of ADD and ADHD is “concentration munchies” or constantly having a need to eat when you are prompted with the task of focus or work. Snacking on brain-friendly foods throughout the day curbs your distraction hunger while enhancing your focus.
- Drink Water, Not Caffeine Or Sugar: Even though ADD and ADHD are high energy disorders characterized by hyperactivity, rapid thought processing, and easy distraction, they can be tiring. Instead of trying to focus and get work done, the ADD/ADHD brain is known to become very tired. Similar to “concentration munchies” there are distracting naps. You might find that you are tired and lethargic when you have to get into heavy focus and work. You could sleep for hours if it meant avoiding doing the work you have to do. It isn’t that you don’t want to do the work, but that your brain is intimidated by it. A great way to support your energy is by staying away from caffeinated and high sugar drinks. Caffeine and sugar spike your energy up and then bring it crashing down. Instead, opt for water.
ADD/ADHD are commonly co-occurring with substance use and other mental health disorders. You can find balance and autonomy while living with ADD/ADHD. LEAD Recovery Center provides long term transitional care programs which help clients grow into independent leaders of recovery. For information, call us today at 1-800-380-0012.