How to Cope with Stress and Burnout if You Have ADHD
Posted by Soribel Martínez, LCSW
Stress, unfortunately, is a normal part of our modern lives. In fact, it’s pretty much expected that everyone will live with stress as we go about our days. After all, there’s so much that needs to get done. Work, errands, school, ferrying children everywhere, community involvement, shopping, cooking, and yet more work.
If you live with ADHD, you may even add stress to your life without realizing it. Over time, stress can lead to burnout. As a person with ADHD, however, there are specific approaches that can help you cope with these.
Establish Simple Routines
Setting and following routines can be a real challenge if you have ADHD. After all, your brain doesn’t naturally work like that. Your brain is not neurotypical, which creates both positives and negatives.
But with practice, it is possible to help your attention become more focused on what needs to get done.
Realize How You May Be Adding Stress
Living with ADHD often means that you are interested in many things. You may be interested in so many things, of course, that you end up not being able to complete or focus on any one thing completely.
While this tendency can lend itself to creativity, it also means that you can end up committed to too many things. Intentional or not, trying to do too many things at once creates stress. You end up feeling pressured and anxious as you try to get it all done.
When you feel this way, take a step back and evaluate your situation. What projects and interests can be paused, at least for the time being?
Identify What You Can Let Go
This tip ties in directly with how you may unintentionally add stress. It’s vital to find things to let go of when stress and burnout are weighing you down. This isn’t always easy. You want to do lots of things. You may have work pressures that seem unrelenting.
Nevertheless, look for ways to cut back on some areas.
Exercise is a natural medicine. Moving your body helps burn off stress. It releases feel good endorphins that boost your mood. It can also help you feel more focused. These are all wonderful reasons to fit exercise into your day.
Even if you don’t want to, or aren’t able to, do something strenuous, a brisk walk can do wonders.
If you notice yourself feeling anxious or under pressure, pause and reconnect with yourself. Paying attention to your breathing is one of the easiest ways to do this. While your mind may resist slowing down even for a few minutes, practice.
There are many different types of breathing exercises. Focusing on breathing slowly and deeply is a good place to start.
Exercise, as mentioned above, is also a great relaxation technique. You can identify other ways to make your days calmer and less distracting as well. Perhaps it’s limiting how much screen time you have.
Evaluate What Matters Most
If you’re living with a lot of stress and feeling burnout, you may want to try to identify where the pressure is coming from. Are you putting too much pressure on yourself for some reason? Or is it coming from an outside source like a boss?
As you identify sources of stress, take the time to also identify what matters most to you. What are your deepest priorities for life? If stress is getting in the way of these, identify how and why it is. What changes can you make so you can live more in line with your priorities?
It may take some time, and you may find it helpful to reach out for professional assistance along the way. But it is possible to step out from under stress and burnout and find your way to a more fulfilling, contented life.
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Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy