How to Overcome ADHD Obstacles Part 3
Typical ADHD Annoyances
1. Feeling Overwhelmed
Life can get pretty demanding, especially if you have ADHD. There may be times when getting your head around things and staying calm seem like a mission impossible.
What to do?
First and foremost accept that life doesn’t have to be perfect. Things can get messy and chaotic. Just have confidence that you’ll find a way to plow through it.
Reprioritizing your routine can prove quite effective. You could lower your standards for tidiness. You could order out instead of cooking. You could reschedule an appointment. Above all, avoid guilt tripping yourself or others.
If you are truly doing the best you can, be at peace with the situation, no matter how chaotic things appear. Also Read: A Four-Step Solution to Overcoming Extreme ADHD-Overwhelm.
Procrastination is a common problem for people with ADHD. You may be over thinking things, getting lost in the details or losing track of time, etc. All these typical ADHD issues can result in procrastination.
What to do?
Practice Acceptance. Yes, Again!
Accept that all these issues are part of life. You will feel overwhelmed at times, you will feel like your moving at a snails pace, you will feel extreme resistance to get started, and you will feel scared at times. We all do.
Beating yourself up about it is a sure way to go nowhere! Using the tips in this article should get you through most ADHD hurdles. Read and reread them as many times as feels necessary.
Get It Over With!
In some cases, ADHD symptoms peak because you’ve been avoiding certain tasks for too long. The only way to remedy this is to quit delaying the inevitable. Just face things directly and get it over with!
Do what you’ve been postponing for so long, no matter how tedious or boring it may be, and do it now! It may help to time the exact duration of a task by keeping an eye on the clock. You’ll be surprised to learn that most tedious tasks take less time than expected.
If you’re really lacking motivation, consider this. A short period of discomfort is not nearly as painful as the drawn-out-nagging feeling you get when you continually postpone the inevitable.
If it needs to be done, ‘Just Do It.’ It’s the easiest and shortest path to achieving peace of mind. Also read: “How to Stop Procrastinating and get things done”.
One side effect of having ADHD is lack of patience. A person with ADHD can experience a high level of physical discomfort during the shortest of wait times – it’s difficult to downshift so that our thoughts match how long things actually take.
What to do?
Having to wait in line is easily remedied by having a book or game on hand wherever you go. I do this all the time. Keeping your mind busy at all times, however, may not always offer the best solution.
If you find yourself becoming impatient because things haven’t happened when and how you imagined they would, practice Mindfulness.
Instead of getting stuck in the energy of frustration, focus on your breath and let go of all expectations. Observe what happens in that space, in the here and now. Absorb the world around you with interest by allowing yourself to genuinely experience the moment.
We live in a transformational time – the speed at which things manifest in our reality is ever increasing. Have faith that the things you want will manifest in due time. Remember that nothing worth having is ever created by forcing it into existence.
4. Out of Sight is Out of Mind
If things aren’t right in front of your face, you forget all about them, right?
Plenty of things fall by the wayside if you don’t use visual cues (for example) to remind yourself of their importance. You may have a calendar, appointment book or to-do list, but if you forget to look at them, they won’t be of much use.
What to do?
Keep To-Do’s Within View
It is crucial to keep your to-do’s as visually accessible as possible. I leave my to-do list at the bottom of the staircase – a strange spot – but as I come downstairs in the morning I never forget to begin the day with an overview of my to-do’s. Use Post-its for urgent tasks. Place them on the bathroom mirror – preferably right in front of you – so they’re impossible to miss.
Jolt your memory for Follow Ups
When you’re dealing with a task that takes an extended period of time, you have to make notes at the end of each day/week to remind yourself where you left off the previous day/week.
Place Things You Need To See Where You Can See Them!
It may seem a bit silly, but putting reminders directly in your path is a great way to alert yourself about pending tasks. Place things you need to take to work or school by the door. Hang them on the doorknob if you must. Use erasable pens or Post-its on the bathroom mirror for important reminders. Basically, keep things within sight as much as possible.
Most phones feature some sort of reminder function. These can be very handy to keep you posted regarding important appointments or to-do’s. If your phone’s native agenda/reminder app isn’t to your liking, take a look at iTunes or the Android App Store – there are loads of cool apps available to help you manage your time and keep track of things.
5. Distractibility and Impulsivity
It goes without saying that the ADHD brain has a difficult time dealing with distractions. A ticking clock in the corner of the room, the cat wanting some attention (again!), cars passing in the street, birds chirping outside the window. No matter how small the distraction, it’s often enough to grab your attention and pull you out of the task at hand.
People with ADHD are not only susceptible to outside stimuli, they may also find themselves jumping from one thought or activity to the next. All this leads to a scattering of tasks and wholesale drops in productivity.
What to do?
When you’re about to start a task that requires sustained mental effort, prepare yourself as well as your environment. It’s really important that you achieve a balanced amount of stimulation. Too much or even too little can be a problem. Turn off your phone, Skype, Viber, etc. Ask people not to disturb you unless absolutely necessary. Check your emails and cellphone messages once or twice a day instead of every five minutes.
Create an ADHD Friendly Environment
After preparing your physical space, find ways to encourage the right working atmosphere. Maybe you need to change the lighting or put on some soothing music. I find I can focus best with the TV playing in the background while I’m listening to some relaxing music through my headphones. See what works for you. (More on this in “How to set and accomplish Long Term Goals”)
Allow Your Brain to Wander at Intervals
When doing tasks that require sustained mental effort, be sure to take regular breaks and allow your brain to wander for a moment. When you experience tension in your belly or head, that’s a sign that you’re best off taking a small break.
6. Time Warping
People with ADHD are masters at time warping. In their reality, time is a shrinkable and stretchable commodity. My partner and I – both ADHD-ers – perceive time in the exact opposite ways.
I tend to think things will take longer than they actually do. What takes an hour in my mind takes 15 minutes in reality. He, on the other hand, believes in time stretching and imagines himself doing something that requires hours in 30 minutes.
If you have ADHD, you may find yourself miscalculating time on a daily basis.
What to do?
Get a Watch
The simplest way to counter-act a skewed time perception is to get a wristwatch. Also, hang clocks – preferably old style clocks with hands – in visibly accessible places, in every room of the house. It may not resolve the issue all together, but at least you’ll have a reference point to help you stay on (the-general-consensus-of-time) track.
If you tend to be late for appointments, you’re not giving yourself enough space to be on time. The next time you have an appointment, allocate twice the amount of time you think you’ll need to be on time. Overdo it in the beginning. As you get better at being punctual, you can adjust your calculations a bit.
For a single week, time yourself when you engage in various activities. This way you can see how long they really take. Make a list of them. This will give you a more realistic picture of how much time you really need to finish your to-do’s.
ADHDers tend to be hypersensitive. This causes physical, mental and even emotional difficulties. Sounds, lighting, clutter, prickly clothing, heat, cold, people, you name it… Almost anything can be a source of irritation for someone with ADHD.
Yes, we have a tendency to be high maintenance folks.
What to do?
As with all ADHD symptoms, the more centered you become the less burdened you’ll feel. Practicing Mindfulness and eliminating negative beliefs will strongly reduce these discomforts. But this is a long-term process.
In the mean time, while establishing your center, find ways to make things as comfortable for yourself as possible. Be kind to yourself and accommodate your sensitivities wherever you can.
Don’t force yourself into situations you know will be difficult to handle. Certainly don’t punish yourself for being different. This will only make you feel down about yourself. Don’t do it. Feel good about who you are… it’s ok.
8. Difficulty Adjusting
People with ADHD (particularly those with the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD) need to have everything planned out, especially when times get tough.
They anticipate every possible outcome in order to be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared for whatever might happen.
Surprises are unwelcome, so it can take a long time for them to adjust to new situations. Even when they themselves have chosen or created a particular situation, it can take quite a while for them to adjust.
What to do?
Everything New Becomes Familiar Over Time
Realize that every new task, situation, place or person becomes familiar over time. Things that feel difficult or uncomfortable at first can eventually become easy or fun.
“Have patience, all things are difficult, before they become easy”.
Set Boundaries? Or Just Go with the Flow?
Sometimes your discomfort is the result of people overstepping your boundaries. It’s up to you to be honest to yourself about what is actually happening. Are you uncomfortable because you fear something unfamiliar? Or are you allowing yourself to be pushed into a situation that is incompatible with your needs or not in your best interest? If so, find a productive way to communicate your point of view. Practice your communication skills. It will become easier over time.
9. Difficulty finding Inner Peace
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be someone who dives into new activities and avoids things that feel too familiar. You may find yourself stuck in a vortex of constant mental and physical activity, feeling afraid of what might happen if you suddenly stop.
What to do?
Don’t Avoid the Void
The only way to remedy this is to get off the merry-go-round. Give yourself time to unwind. Regain your balance by sitting, meditating, contemplating or just plain doing nothing for a while.
See if you can calmly sit amongst things as they are, without the need to do anything.
If you can stop yourself from spinning and practice this calm withdrawal on a regular basis, you will begin to create more peace within your soul. Insights will come easier and you will feel more at ease. Over time, you will find yourself becoming less prone to excessive mental and physical activity.
People with ADHD can become so preoccupied that they can literally tune out the world around them.
This ability can be likened to falling into a mild trance.
Even though this ability has its benefits, it also has its down sides. An unexpected phone call may leave you with a burned casserole. News of an exciting new project could make you forget about picking up the kids at school. I’m sure you have your own examples of small or even big, impromptu, hyper-focus disasters.
What to do?
Use a Timer
Make it a habit to use a timer or alarm clock. This way you’ll have something to snap you out of your trance when needed.
I personally use an old-school kitchen timer I found at a flea market. Its ring is so loud I can hear it throughout the whole house.
You can also use a timer to put a limit on certain activities. If you tend to lose yourself for hours on eBay, this is an excellent way of reminding yourself that you might be going overboard.
11. Difficulty verbalizing Things
Expressing thoughts and feelings in a coherent or productive way can be difficult if you have ADHD. Do you say things you don’t mean or blurt things out that make no sense whatsoever? I do.
In some cases, you may have had so many negative past experiences, you’ve given up trying to tell people how you really feel inside. Don’t. Never convince yourself that you shouldn’t share your feelings, no matter what.
What to do?
Hold on for a second. Gather your thoughts. Figure out how you really feel or what you really want. When your thoughts are scrambled and your feelings are all mixed up, it’s probably better to take a break until you’ve calmed down before continuing.
When trying to communicate in a state of stress or discomfort, we often compound the problem we were trying to resolve in the first place.
Find the right Words
Once you’ve determined how you truly feel about a situation, find a positive way to express your position. There are always ways to make something sound better.
Phrasing things in a negative way has a tendency to work against the flow because it puts the person you’re trying to communicate with on the defense.
Here are some examples of how to phrase things positively:
“I don’t like to…” becomes “I would prefer to…”
“I can’t…” becomes “it’s a challenge for me to…
“You shouldn’t …” becomes “It would make me feel better if you…”
Do the best you can
Even though you give it your best shot, things won’t always work out the way you want. Although you’d wish things had happened differently, keep in mind that staying positive is the way towards success. Every time you find a productive way to resolve a tricky situation you will feel encouraged. Practice makes perfect.
Accept that Speaking takes Time and Effort
Until we’ve all become masters of telepathy, we’ll have to accept the extra time and effort required to express our thoughts and feelings with words.
So, invest the extra energy required to phrase things properly. Even though your brain is operating at a faster pace, slow down so you can find the right words to express yourself.
Choosing words that accurately reflect your opinions or feelings can be difficult, especially when you’re stressed. Just remember that the world is a much more comforting place when people actually understand where you’re coming from.
Don’t isolate yourself.
When you invest the time to communicate clearly, people will have a more accurate picture of you and what you mean. Don’t hurry through important conversations. This gives people the opportunity to make assumptions about you and misinterpret your opinions and feelings. Pause if necessary, think about what you really want to say, then tell them exactly where you’re coming from.
12. Difficulty making Decisions
In a world of seemingly limitless options, making decisions is hard. When you have ADHD, the decision making process can cause a fair amount of anxiety.
What to do?
Pose Limits Upon Yourself
Making decisions becomes easier when you’re given limitations. Although these limitations can seem restrictive, you will soon realize that narrowing your options can be an effective tool towards minimizing anxiety.
For example, if you’re in the market for a new laptop and the number of choices is making you nervous, put a price cap on the purchase to narrow your selection. Decide to visit only your favorite three shops when looking for a new summer coat, etc.
Find creative ways to limit your options and see how it effects your decision making process. Give it a try!
The decision making process is greatly simplified when you know yourself and what’s important to you. When you take the time to determine your specific life goals, standards and values, you can more easily eliminate the things that don’t fit.
Choosing Is Winning
You may feel as though you’re missing out if you don’t try all your options. However, the reality is that you simply can’t choose all the options without driving yourself mad. Limit your options. Make a choice and go for it!