ADHD traits are different for everyone. While distractibility, disorganization, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are traits that nearly every person with the ADHD diagnosis deals with in some form, how these traits affect an individual’s day-to-day life varies. Of course, we are all uniquely different which means how we deal with, combat, or navigate our struggles are uniquely different as well.
HOW DOES YOUR ADHD AFFECT YOU?
As in any endeavor of self-improvement, the first step is to take stock. “What difficulties am I facing today?” Not all ADHD traits need to be corrected, not all can. It’s important to know the difference and focus of what skills you need to acquire to better your quality of life.
Below are some common issues faced by teens with ADHD and example solutions. Pick and choose what works for you. Modify the solutions to fit your need. Tap into one of the better traits of ADHD and be creative. This can be a rewarding experience.
COMMON ADHD TEEN STRUGGLES
Poor time management skills: This may result in missing deadlines, opportunities and doling out never-ending apologies or fibs to cover for tardiness to professors, friends and family. This behavior can make a person seem unreliable, irresponsible and cause low self-esteem.
Solution: Planners are a good solution for anyone with this problem. However, for an ADHD mind a more visual representation is in order. Large calendars on the wall can be skimmed multiple times a day making the information easy to remember, and hard to ignore. Also, the next time you need to complete a timed task, put something on that you’re familiar with so as the story or song moves forward, you will be subconsciously aware of the passage of time.
Impulsivity: Impulsivity can impact a person in a variety of ways: conversation style, impulse shopping, risky behavior, thrill-seeking ect. It is important to take note of how your impulsivity affects you and learn to take control. When does your impulsivity get you in trouble? What kind of impulsive behaviors do you have?
Typically the risks taken by a person with ADHD are not taken because of a lack of reasoning ability, but the lack of impulse control in the moment. To circumnavigate this you need to ask yourself “What risks are likely to be present in this environment?” and “How am I going to chose to respond?” When an ADHD mind makes the habit of forming decisions before they’re in that impulsive moment, they are much less likely to make poor decisions that could result in harm. Learning this skill is something everyone does to a degree, it is an essential part of becoming a successful adult.
Concentration: Concentration management is one of the most difficult obstacles to take on because it is such an intangible issue. What it comes down to is training. At what point in your day are you suffering from this problem the most?
Manipulating the senses is a great way to draw in your attention span. Find a scent, taste or texture that you can use to trigger your mind into acknowledging-it’s time to focus. For example, a piece of hard candy, gum, candle or even a keychain. After some practice using these tools you’ll find your mind will begin responding to the stimulus quicker and more efficiently each time.
While navigating some of the less-than-stellar side effects of ADHD is important for anyone struggling in their day-to-day life. It is equally as important to understand and embrace what your brilliant ADHD mind can do. ADHD minds are typically playful, creative, energetic and original thinkers. Ensuring your mind has a healthy outlet to express itself is essential in controlling the negative aspects as well. Regular exercise, low stimulant diet (eg low sugar, caffeine), time in nature, creative outlets and designated leisure time are all vital in working with an ADHD mind. Once you learn to give your mind what it needs to feel energized, only then can you work to rein it in when your mind wants to wander during inappropriate times. Be patient in the give-and-take process of learning self-regulation and know that guidance is always there if you find yourself needing help.
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Many adults and children suffer from ADHD. While a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be helpful, there are also some more natural “tricks” that can help ward off hyperactivity and increase focusing.
B-Complex vitamins (specifically B1, B3, & B6) are shown to help improve impulsive behavior. These are usually found in foods such as fish, meat, nuts, sunflower seeds, and leafy greens such as spinach
Eating more foods with calcium and magnesium can help to calm anxiety, fidgeting, and restlessness. Good sources of calcium and magnesium are nuts, seeds, sardines, and salmon.
Omega-3s help aid in focusing, and improving memory and mood. Many vitamin stores now sell an Omega-3 without the fishy taste (my favorite is Sprouts). Eating fresh water fish such as salmon, halibut, and more pasture-raised meats can help increase your intake of Omega-3s. Sometimes our diet and eating habits play a big part in our physical and mental health.