Tips for Coping With and Managing Adult ADHD
ADHD doesn’t come with a manual explaining coping mechanisms, how to focus, or how to stay organized. If you are lucky, you might learn those things in childhood. But for most, those things are learned as an ADHD adult through trial and error.
To understand how to cope and manage ADHD, you first have to know how it affects you. Many adults believe ADHD only affects certain aspects of their lives, like attention span. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects more than your attention.
ADHD affects your memory, energy, and impulse control along with a host of other things. If you genuinely want to develop, revise and refine coping mechanisms for your ADHD, it’s essential you realize this.
With that being said, get ready to learn a few new ADHD coping mechanisms and management techniques, plus how to get and stay organized. By the end of this article, you will know at least one new way to manage adult ADHD and be ready to put it into practice.
Coping Mechanism #1: Own Your ADHD
When you make a mistake, like an impulsive remark about someone’s looks, own up to it. Tell the person:
- I’m sorry/My bad/My mistake/My Apologies.
- Explain that you have ADHD, which causes you to make impulsive remarks sometimes. (Humor may help here, depending on the context.)
- Don’t make excuses or blame other people.
- Tell them you are “working on it” so that this won’t happen again in the future.
Owning your ADHD will boost your self-esteem while also helping you build (and keep!) relationships with those around you. Don’t let your ADHD define you. Own it, and people will respect you.
Coping Mechanism #2: Just Say No
Lack of self-control, or impulsiveness, is one of the most self-destructive behaviors plaguing ADHD adults. Impulsive behaviors and comments alienate you from your friends and family, and may even cost you a job or two.
This might sound crazy, but anytime you get an impulse to do or say something, just tell yourself, “No I can’t say that.” Or, “No I can’t do that.”
I know you might be thinking, “How am I supposed to tell myself that if I don’t even know when it’s going to happen.” There’s a brief moment between when the thought (impulse) occurs in your brain and when you put it into action.
You have to seize that moment and say no. The other day this same coping mechanism saved me from accidentally hurting a friend’s feelings.
Coping Mechanism #3: Stop and Think
One moment you’re working, the next you’re doing who knows what and you have no idea why. Or maybe you’re on your way to the grocery store, but you miss your exit.
These are all things you can prevent if you just stop and think.
One of the most common mistakes I make is forgetting how to drive to a place I don’t visit often. This is because I’ve come to rely on a routine to structure and organize my daily life.
So anytime I’m driving to a place I don’t visit often, I stop and put my phone down to give myself time to think about where I am driving to. By being proactive and taking time to stop and think, you can prevent future mistakes.
Think about all the mistakes you’ve made in the past because your ADHD got the best of you, and then write down answers to the following questions:
- What was your mistake?
- Where were you?
- What were you doing (what were you supposed to be doing?)
Now that you know what situations and places you’re most likely to make a mistake in, you can practice mentally preparing yourself to stop and think in advance for next time.
How to Become More Organized With Adult ADHD
You’ve heard it all before:
- To-do list (the sooner you get one, the better).
- Timers (useful for staying organized and focused at work).
- Sticky notes (please don’t try this at home).
- Routines (the more people on a routine in your household, the better).
- Planners (as the saying goes, plans never go according to plan).
Those are all great ways to get and stay organized. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to use them, they’re useless. And even then, it’s one thing to use a to-do list (or whatever you use), but it’s far better if you learn from it.
Try taking 5 to 10 minutes each day to ask yourself the following questions.
- Which tasks on your to-do list do you always do last?
- Which one do you like doing the most?
- Which take you the longest and least amount of time to complete?
From these questions, you can learn your strengths and weaknesses, and more about yourself. The more you know yourself, the easier it will be for you to get and stay organized.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article don’t waste another moment.
Take action. Pick a coping mechanism and refine it to suit your needs. Write a to-do list. Give yourself a new life outlook!