Living with ADHD Doesn't Have to Be Difficult
When I was first diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I was greatly relieved at being able to put a name to what was wrong. Soon, however, I realized that my diagnosis was only the beginning.
I dove into anything and everything ADHD related. How could I best manage my symptoms? What could I do to make things easier? What tricks could I implement to help myself the most?
Much like healthy eating is a lifestyle and not a diet, living with ADHD is also a lifestyle. Permanent changes in the way I thought and the way I lived were going to be needed.
When I looked at ADHD as not just a list of symptoms to control, but a lifestyle to manage, things became much clearer and a whole lot easier! Health isn’t just about one part of you, it’s about how all parts work together to form a whole.
Looking at ADHD in that way the question became, what lifestyle changes do I need to make in order to be my best self? How do I erase everything I’ve ever been taught about how things “should” be done in order to learn to accommodate how my brain works?
It can be overwhelming to make drastic lifestyle changes, but you can always take things at your own pace. You decide how slowly you go and what you change.
With a little planning, patience, and understanding of your own self, you can build a lifestyle that is best suited for getting the most out of life with ADHD.
In my personal experience, there were a few key areas that needed to be addressed first.
Change starts with education. The first lifestyle choice you can make is to be active in your own treatment. Don’t rely on doctors or other health care professionals to tell you everything you need to know about ADHD.
There are many resources out there; online you can find bloggers, articles, discussion groups, and national organizations on ADHD. Scour the library and bookstores for books that can help you. Read everything you can.
Learn what ADHD is and what it is not. When I was first diagnosed I realized how little I truly knew about ADHD and how much it impacted a person’s life.
Learning everything you can not only help you find ways to improve your life, but it also puts you in a position to take an active role in your treatment.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Learn how your brain operates and you become your best advocate. Education and awareness are key.
Some people benefit greatly from taking medication for ADHD, while other people choose to remain medication free. I applaud both groups.
It is up to each individual to decide whether they want or need medication. You know what is best for you and your body.
Taking medication is definitely a lifestyle choice. You will need to take medication at the same time each day and you have to be aware of what the medication does to your body as well as how you are affected as it wears off.
Sometimes it will even be important to know if certain types of events are going to take place when you are on medication or after it has worn off. I have found it’s important to have a plan, especially for my daughter if she is attending an event medication free.
Not taking medication is just as much a lifestyle choice. Being medication-free means needing to know your own highs and lows, as well as tools and tricks to get you through the day and the tasks you must complete.
One of the biggest lifestyle changes you can make that will help manage the symptoms of ADHD is following a nutritious diet. Sound nutrition plays an important role in managing symptoms.
Sugar exacerbates ADHD symptoms. Preservatives and chemicals in our food are making us sick. The connection between a diet full of processed foods and ADHD cannot be ignored.
I have even read some articles in defense of the argument that ADHD is not real that state the “symptoms” of what we call ADHD are just a reaction to the foods we are eating.
While I do not prescribe to the theory that ADHD is not real, I do believe in the correlation between an increase in symptoms and the foods we eat.
ADHD is very real. Science has proven it. However, poor food choices lead to a lack of focus and surges in sugar levels. Add that to ADHD and you have a recipe for disaster.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to follow a healthy, nutritious diet full of whole foods. Do away with products laden with sugars and chemicals. The benefit is improved focus, more energy, better sleep and a healthier you!
I know from experience how much worse my ADHD symptoms are when my diet is poor. If I eat a lot of junk food and sugar, my focus is non-existent and I’m much more forgetful and scattered. I’m sluggish and I feel like the chaos in my head is out of control.
When I follow a mostly plant-based diet and limit myself to the occasional treat, I find that I don’t forget what I’m saying in mid-sentence, I can concentrate on my work and I don’t feel so flustered and foggy.
Exercise is good for anyone, ADHD or not, but if you have ADHD being active will gift you with improved mental clarity, better sleep, and stress reduction.
Any type of regular exercise that gets you moving and increases your heart rate is beneficial.
Do what you love — play in the yard with the kids, play a sport, walk, jog, bicycle, dance, join a gym. The choices are limitless.
Exercising outdoors is even better. Nature grounds us, and for those of us with ADHD, this can be a lifesaver.
Time spent out of doors calms, soothes and refreshes. I try to walk every morning and then later in the day I will do some other type of exercise.
I find that I feel so much better after those morning walks. I am more relaxed and I feel like I have better focus when I get to work.