9 Tips for Living Successfully with Adult ADHD

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

What does living successfully with Adult ADHD mean to you?
Perhaps you think success is focusing more easily or following-through on projects. Perhaps it’s getting organized or finding a job more suited to your ADHD personality.

Success often seems like a far away dream to ADHD adults. Fortunately, as an ADD Coach, my clients show me first hand how targeted guidance and hard work make success possible. You can live an ADHD-friendly, satisfying and successful life.

How To Live Successfully with Adult ADHD

1. Improve Your Self-Talk
How do you talk to yourself? Do you call yourself names like stupid or lazy? Negative self-talk undermines your self-esteem and limits your success. As the saying goes, ‘What I Say To Myself is My Reality.’ Next time you find yourself doing something not quite the way you’d like, forget the name calling, instead say, “That’s not like me, I’m a person who … (gets to meetings on time, remembers to pay my bills, etc.).” ADHD Success starts from within.

2. Increase Your Personal Awareness
Awareness is a challenging, yet essential, ADHD Success skill. We tend to careen through life like pinballs, impulsively chasing whatever grabs our attention. To be truly successful gain awareness of your thoughts and actions. This doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally ‘pinball’ — that’s inevitable. However, it’s essential you frequently check in with what you’re doing so you can catch yourself and get back on track.

3. Create Systems and Structure to Make Your Life Run More Easily
Many ADHD adults avoid systems and structures, thinking of them as boring; limiting flexibility and creativity. In reality the structures and systems will make your world more ADD-friendly. Cleverly set routines in your personal and business life allow you to stay on an even course so you can accomplish essential everyday tasks while still expressing your individuality and creativity.

4. Exercise Regularly
Medical research shows that regular aerobic exercise helps to regulate the chemicals in the brain at the root of ADHD, allowing for better focus and less impulsivity. For ADD adults with hyperactivity, exercise will also help burn off extra energy. What kind of exercise can you do on a regular basis? What is blocking you from exercising and how can you change it? Mindful exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, is also excellent for ADHD management.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet
I often compare the ADHD brain to a high-performance race car. Like a race car, people with ADHD need excellent, regular fuel to function optimally. That means well-balanced meals of lean proteins, hearty grains, fruits and vegetables. Easier said than done. It’s common for ADHD adults to forget to eat or buy groceries. How can you change your habits and create structure so you will eat an ADD-friendly diet to give your brain the fuel it needs?

6. Learn How Much You Can Handle
Every ADHD adult I’ve met has an optimal number of activities he or she can juggle at any one time. Stimulation helps us focus and having multiple things to choose from provides that stimulation. However, having too many things to do shuts us down with overwhelm. Do you have too much on your plate right now? If so, what can you eliminate to reduce the overwhelm? You’re looking for the balance between being bored with not enough to do and overwhelmed with too much to do. If you find you need more activity to be at your best, slowly add things back into your life until you reach a comfortable balance.

7. Get Enough Sleep
Exhaustion makes ADHD brain-fog and concentration worse. Do you know how much sleep you need each night to function at your best? What’s keeping you from getting enough sleep and what can you do about it? The stimulant medications most often prescribed for ADHD can make it hard for some people to fall asleep. Fortunately, this is usually correctable with a slight adjustment in your medication schedule, so talk to your doctor.

8. Play to Your Strengths
When you focus your world around improving your weaknesses you will struggle. Building your life around the things you’re good at naturally, your strengths, leads to more effortless ADD success. Sure, you need to manage your weaknesses; there are things in life you just have to do. But, a strength-focused, weakness managed, life makes the difference between success and struggle.

9. Get the Best Treatment for Your ADHD
Sadly, many people think that once they start taking medication their ADHD will magically disappear, only to find this isn’t so. Studies show that a multi-modal approach including medication, counseling, and ADHD coaching provides the most effective management and treatment of ADD. The medication balances the brain chemicals to control attention, impulsivity and activity-levels. The counseling addresses the defeating issues stemming from a life of untreated ADHD. Coaching helps the person reach their goals and create the systems and structure that makes life more successful. Working with ADD is a highly specialized niche in the medical, counseling and coaching professions. Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure the professionals you select are highly ADHD trained.

9 Tips for Living Successfully with ADHD was written by ADHD Coach Dana Rayburn, who creates success strategies for ADHD adults. Dana is one of a select group of coaches trained and specializing in ADHD. A graduate of the Optimal Functioning Institute and Coach University, Dana is a Senior Certified ADHD Coach by the ADHD Coach Institute. With Dana’s guidance, clients in the US, Canada and Europe break through the constricting limits of ADHD so they can get organized, reach their goals and achieve the personal and business success they’ve dreamed of but haven’t been able to accomplish on their own.