As a busy mum, now diagnosed with ADHD, I reach for my wellbeing “first aid kit” when I’m feeling unmotivated, irritable, or just plain down on myself.
I unwittingly created this kit for myself many years ago, well before my diagnosis, in fact. I had no choice but to adopt many of these strategies, believing that I was just pre-destined to feel perpetually overwhelmed, anxious, and never quite good enough. Little did I know there was a medical explanation for these oppressing emotions.
Maybe you’re a fellow mom or woman with ADHD who is barely treading water these days. You’ve been overwhelmed and under pressure. Your head is busy and feels like it’ll explode at any minute.
It often feels easier to sit and ruminate, or wallow in some much-deserved self-pity. But we know that doesn’t really help, does it? It’s a good thing we are women with ADHD — in other words, resourceful problem solvers.
That’s why I’m sharing my ADHD wellbeing kit — in hopes that it will help make your days a bit easier. These tools can work well for anyone who isn’t feeling their best. Personally, I find that focusing on just one or two of the kit strategies is enough to lift my mood.
Wellbeing Kit: Strategies for Moms and Women with ADHD
1. Move for Wellbeing
Every day, find a way to move your body. Find an activity you love, the choice is yours. The more you move, the higher your dopamine levels will be, and the more balanced and positive you’ll feel.
- Make a motivational music playlist or compile some riveting podcasts and use that as a way to distract yourself if movement is not appealing.
- Grab a friend and plan an outdoor walk or run – something you can’t put off nearer the time!
Even if it’s just starting off with five or ten minutes a day, you’ll see the effect of this movement on your overall mood every day. If you can get out in nature, that’s even better as this helps increase your dopamine levels even more.
2. Tap for Wellbeing
Tapping, known officially as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is my favorite modality; it helps me feel instantly calmer, lighter and clearer.
EFT works by literally tapping on identified meridian (energy acupressure) points around our face, upper body, hands, and fingers. As we tap on these points with our fingers and repeat statements or just simply breathe, we allow our nervous systems to become relaxed, our subconscious brain to engage, and for heightened perspectives to shift.
I tap in the morning for a few minutes while saying positive affirmations about how I want to feel or what I want to accomplish. I also tap in the shower, on a walk, in the car, or whenever I’m feeling really out of whack.
I find EFT hugely beneficial for individuals with ADHD because we don’t have to focus on keeping our minds quiet. The tapping takes care of this! Below is a video of me teaching a simple tapping and breathing exercise.
3. Talk for Wellbeing
Sometimes we don’t have the mental energy to talk about all that goes on in our busy heads. We internalize a lot and mask our true emotions. It’s easier to keep it all hidden and pretend that we’re fine than to really go deep with what we’re feeling. In the end, this drains us.
- Find just one person you feel comfortable talking to about what’s going on. A supportive and kind ear can really take pressure off.
- If you don’t feel like talking, tap and talk to yourself. Personally, this method is most empowering to me, as it teaches me to find solutions within me.
4. Self-Compassion for Wellbeing
- Be kind and patient with yourself. Remember our brains don’t quite operate the same as others. We have some amazing benefits from having these busy brains, but it’s also very hard work for us, and the exhaustion is invisible to others. Show yourself the same compassion you’d show a loved one, a good friend, or a complete stranger.
- Be your own advocate. The more we recognize where things are harder for us than others, the better boundaries we create and less pressure we put on ourselves.
- Ask yourself for evidence if you really think you’re the failure you tell yourself you are? Are you really a bad person because you’re often late or messy?
- Talk to your inner child. Inner child work is a wonderful way to show yourself the compassion you deserve.
Added resource: In this Ambitious Mum podcast episode, Dr. Nicola Harker explains more about the importance of self-compassion.
5. Write for Wellbeing
Again, our swirling minds never seem to stop. They’re like a washing machine of thoughts, memories, reflections, projects, ideas and plans – it’s never ending!
Our thoughts have to be deposited somewhere. Otherwise, the anxiety and overwhelm kick in, and we’re back to square one.
Journaling is a form of emotional purging – and it’s so good for us. We can release what’s in our heads and make more sense of our externalized thoughts.We’re also able to delve deeper when our thoughts are in writing, giving us valuable insights we need to feel calmer and less anxious.
If you don’t know where to start, use these prompts:
- What is consuming me today?
- Today I’m feeling X. Could it be because of Y?
- I can’t stop wondering/worrying/thinking about X
6. Breathe for Wellbeing
Learning a few simple breathing exercises can be a true lifesaver when your world feels like it’s caving in. It helps slow our minds down and reduce the cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies to come back to a place of more calm and balance. Have a look at this short video where I teach a couple of my favorite breath work exercises, which have saved me from going down a dark hole a number of times.
7. Acknowledge, Accept, and Allow for Wellbeing
By recognizing our feelings and noticing our emotional and physical responses, we’re acknowledging the situation, accepting how we’re feeling, and allowing ourselves to feel what we’re feeling. After all, we’re allowed to have rocky days, emotional hours, and bumpy weeks. That’s life, ADHD or not.
As women with ADHD, however, we’re particularly hard on ourselves. By practicing a deeper level of self-awareness and forgiving ourselves for not being the person we think we should be, we can learn to respect ourselves and build resilience against life’s stressors.
- We can’t run away from ourselves. Resistance and suppression are the antidote to grace – something we all need more of in our lives. When you begin to show less resistance, you’ll see opportunities align. In fact, they may have always been there – but resistance keeps us in a gridlock, our direction in life unclear.
8. Ask for Help
Asking for help is tough, but it gets easier with practice. We quickly assume that we’ll be perceived as needy or incompetent, rather than an inherently strong person who has acknowledged she can’t do everything on her own.
Overcommitting is emotionally draining, and the people that suffer most from this habit are typically your loved ones. They will get the brunt of the exhausted version of you, despite you trying to portray to the outside world that “you’re fine!”
Dropping your guard and showing some vulnerability is no bad thing. You’ll be amazed how wonderful it feels when you do accept help. And if you’re naturally a helper, you know how good it feels to be of assistance to someone who needs it.
If you really struggle with asking for help, pretend you’re a friend in need. How quickly would you drop everything to step into action?
Allow yourself to ask for help once a day from someone you love and trust – this is essential for your emotional health. Over time, it’ll feel more normal to reach out and ask for assistance, especially when you need it the most. For more, listen to this Ambitious Mum podcast episode, on the power of asking for help.
The irony of wellbeing is that it requires consistent diligence and self-awareness — not traditional ADHD strong points. But as beings with overactive nervous systems, it’s important we have tools in place to help calm and regulate our brains so we can fulfill our vast potentials.
Wellbeing for Women with ADHD: Next Steps
- Read: Self-Compassion – The New ADHD Treatment
- Read: You Are Not the Sum of Your ADHD Challenges
- Download: Mindful Meditation for ADHD
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This content was originally published here.