Adolescent / Adult ADHD: 5 Ways to Take Control of Your Life
Do you struggle with feelings of powerlessness or failure because of your ADD/ADHD? You can make positive changes and take back control of your life.
- Take pride in your mind. People with ADD/ADHD have to learn that the way their brains work is not only not their fault, it's not even a bad thing. Though they may sometimes lose focus, they often have other gifts. "People with ADHD often have enormous creative energy," says Blythe Grossberg, PsyD, and author of the books Making ADD Work and Test Success. People with ADHD have to learn to appreciate the strengths of their brains and embrace their assets and resist the critical inclination of our culture — i.e., the inner scolding fifth-grade teacher we carry around in our heads. Any steps you take to manage your ADHD will give you a sense of command.
- Commit to fitness. If you've got ADHD, add one more benefit to the long list of reasons to exercise. Edward Hallowell, MD, and John Ratey, MD, two leading experts on ADHD and coauthors of Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life With Attention Deficit Disorder, argue that exercise is a kind of holistic version of the medications often used to treat ADHD. "Both children and adults who have ADD should think of physical exercise as a mainstay of their treatment program." Though the mechanism of exactly how exercise helps is not clear — research shows that it can boost memory and cognitive processing speed.
- Nourish your attention. Just as exercise offers people with ADHD extra benefits, so does a healthful diet. Hallowell and Ratey report that early indications are that omega-3 oils, or fish oils, may help those with ADHD increase their focus and concentration. Fatty fish like salmon, along with walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil, are good additions to an ADHD diet. They also argue on behalf of eating protein with breakfast to avoid ups and downs and periods of high and low energy.
- Set reasonable goals. Hallowell and Ratey warn against overreaching — trying for perfection in terms of organization and attention. Instead, they argue for setting a more reachable goal — aspire to be "well enough" organized. Even if you can't be great at focus, you can work around your ADHD effectively enough to reach all your goals, both professional and personal.
- Seek professional counsel. Commit to educating yourself and getting the best advice available. The more you learn about your disorder, the more you'll be able to see the pathways through its challenges to the success you imagine. Taking action is, in itself, empowering.