Managing Your ADHD

SQUIRREL! (Sorry, I had to.)

SQUIRREL! (Sorry, I had to.)

Prompted┬áby a not helpful post I saw going around the internet last week, I wrote a post to help people without ADHD help their partners who do. As I was writing it, I thought of some of the things I do to help manage my symptoms. Like I said in my earlier post, medication doesn’t “cure” ADHD. It just makes the symptoms easier to manage. Hopefully some of these tips will help you as well.

1) Identify triggers. You know how eating sugar just makes you want to eat more sugar? ADHD kind of works the same way, for me anyway. The more I check my phone or social media sites, the more I want to check my phone or social media sites. But the biggest trigger I’ve found is games, particular story-light action-heavy games (I’m looking at you Borderlands). I can’t play games during the week or I just crave that kind of stimulation to the degree that everything else feels dull. The effect usually wears off in 24 hours or so, but it means that weeknight gaming is (mostly) a thing of the past. I am experimenting with playing RPGs, such as Dragon Age, during the week to see if they have the same effect. RPGs don’t feed my need for instant gratification as much.

2) Think before starting a new project. I have a lot of unfinished projects laying around my house. Some of them are unfinished for solid reasons (cross stitch and knitting can make my hands hurt) and some are unfinished because of lame excuses (I wasn’t good at guitar right away.) And some things I just simply lost interest in. When it comes to projects, I can be very impulsive. A few weeks ago I was all gung-ho about building my own server and running OwnCloud on it. But after stopping to think about it for a week, I realized it was just something new that excited me. I really don’t need to run my own cloud platform. And the risks from when I get bored are too high. Instead, I’m just going to make a home media server. If I want to access it remotely I’ll use a service like Subsonic or Plex. Try to give yourself at least a week to think if a project is something you really want to do, or if it’s just something new that’s interesting for right now.

3) Write. I started this blog before I was diagnosed with ADHD. It started as a way to get all of the rushing thoughts into my head out. If I got them out, they stopped rushing. The rushing thoughts has actually been the symptom helped the most by medication, but writing is still helpful. It helps me think through things. It gives my thoughts structure, and order. And that has helped changed the way I think overall. I’m not saying you have to blog. But write. Do it online or on paper, it doesn’t matter. Just get it out.

4) Use Technology to Your Advantage. Somethings will just always be hard for me to remember. Things like turning off lights. Or remembering if I closed the garage door. (Especially the latter because I don’t take my medication until I get to work.) It’s one of several reasons we’re starting to set up home automation. (More on this next week!) Not only can I set things to happen automatically, I can also check in to see if manual tasks I remembered. I can see if my garage door is open. I can see if the lights are on. It cuts down on the midday “did I shut the garage door!” panic. I also send starred emails from Gmail to my Evernote so I remember to follow up (they’re at the top when I login). And have alerts on my calendar. A couple of times if it’s important.

5) Get active. Yup, I’m putting this one on both lists. It’s important. Movement helps get extra energy out. I struggle with getting my butt to the gym. For one, my medication can make my heart rate skyrocket if I’m not careful. And two, it’s so boring. It’s the same thing over and over. Outdoors it isn’t so bad, but the gym? Dull. Lifting weights isn’t awful (it changes after a few reps) but cardio is the worse. What has helped me is breaking up my cardio between machines. At least it feels new. Also, audio books. They’re easier than trying to read while bouncing. When I run outside, I like Zombies, Run!

Once again, I have no psychiatric training. My experiences are my own and your mileage may vary.

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