The ADHD brain is wildly and beautifully chaotic! Most of the time it can only go on one speed and that speed is intensely fast. The difficulties of dealing with that and the repercussions it has can be overwhelming and unrelenting. While most people are able to switch off and enjoy quiet time, people with ADHD struggle to get any sense of peace while trying to navigate a world that can sometimes be cruel to those who are different.
Aside from not being able to relax as much as some people, our fast brains can also get us into trouble in all sorts of ways. One of them I’ve talked about in part one of this series ‘Verbal Diarrhoea’ where the brain has no filter and just blurts out what we’re thinking without stopping to consider the consequences. Another issue is anxiety, which many people obviously suffer with, even those without ADHD. It’s hard to not have anxiety when you can think of several different possibilities at once. The reason for this is the faster processing speed and the ability to make connections all over the place. This is partly the reason why we also find it difficult to relax so it can be a vicious cycle.
Of course, like most difficulties in life there are things we can do to help ourselves and others in this process. We can never change our brain chemistry completely answer will still have good days and bad but having good coping strategies can make all the difference.
The people around us can be crucial to helping us thrive or drown. I’m quite fortunate in that respect because I have no issue with loneliness; I’d rather have no friends than bad ones, but I understand it’s not the case for everyone. Fortunately, my best friend is fantastic at helping me to manage the symptoms of my ADHD. As I’ve stated previously, sometimes she’ll be like “give those little worker Rachaels a rest” and it’s only then that I realise I’m spiralling into my habit of overthinking everything.
Emotional support is crucial in allowing people with ADHD to thrive, because we can be very sensitive souls. This is because we can have a lot of empathy for others see things. Just knowing that people are there for us if we’re having a bad day or that we can go to them in times of destress can make all the difference. For example, I’d forgotten to put my iPad on charge so that both of my kids could take them to the event we were going to. Quickly knocking on my best friend’s door she assured me we could take her daughter’s fully charged iPad with us” Hence my brain went straight out of panic mode.
So what can we do to support ourselves when it feels like our brain is a non-stop speeding car that we can’t control. Well as I’ve said before exercise can have a fantastic impact on ADHD. Aside from the fact that it can be difficult to drag ourselves to the gym or encourage ourselves to do any physical activity, it can actually be the best medicine. It increases a chemical called dopamine which helps the brain to think and plan. Research also shows that it can help to regulate processing speeds, which of course means that exercise may slow brain down to it’s normal level. I’ve noticed a big difference in my mental health and my overall processing if I exercise regularly.
“It’s been said that music is medicine for the soul and I’ve found that to be very true for ADHD. I can lose myself in the music in a way I can’t when it’s completely sillence.”~ADHD Girl
Another coping strategy is to keep ourselves stimulated to relax, which probably sounds like a stupid thing to say (indeed an oxymoron). However, I discovered that if I do cross stitching while I’m watching a nice TV show then it really does my brain the world of good. The key I feel is too keep your self busy practically. Not matter what you are doing, make sure you can do something with your hands. A few years ago I noticed the craze of fidget spinners and quite enjoyed using them myself though my skills for doing ticks were terrible. Not long after that I got bought fidget cubes, which have been fantastic for my anxiety. It’s basically just a little box which contains buttons and dials, things you can mess with. Using it helps you to focus on something else as odd as it sounds.
The thing is one of the biggest misconceptions with ADHD is that people with it just can’t concentrate; we definitely can. We just can’t focus on one thing at a time, because we are busy looking at the bigger picture. Our brains are wired to get as much stimulus as possible so having little things that we can mess with to keep our hands busy can certainly help us pay more attention to other things that are happening.
Music! Who doesn’t love listening to a good jam? We may not all like the same kind of music, but it can really be helpful in terms of helping us to relax. I used to work in a busy office where concentrating was difficult. There was too much going on and I found that music was my solace. I don’t know you, but if I am listening to a song I really love then I am all in. Basically I’m that busy thinking about the song, who wrote it, why did they write and then having a good sing song, that it drowns out the rest of the world. Just being able to do this no matter what kind of music you like can be great for the soul. If you’re not really a big fan of music then I have also found great audiobooks can do the same.
Keeping as busy as possible can actually help us to relax as funny as that sounds. The more our brain has to chew on and the more our body can do, means that it’s more likely that it will want to crash at some point later on in the day. While this isn’t the best approach because it’s equivalent to pushing your self to breaking point, for some people it might be the only way they get any peace. I find that if I’ve done as much as I can physically and mentally during the day then it’s much easier to relax because I’m not overthinking as much. Like I said, all these things are connected in a vicious cycle. The more we find things that work for us, in line with our ADHD, the more we can inform those around us, and they can also support us in it too. Though ADHD has many difficulties, it doesn’t have to a burden and with the right things in place; we can thrive just like everyone else.