Why is your ADHD brain so overwhelmed and what can you do about it?

Cindy JobsUncategorized

I don’t know what it is, but I’m hearing many feelings of stress and overwhelm right now. What’s up? 

Here are just a few themes I’m hearing:

  • Pre-holiday schedules have gone by the wayside, resulting in a lack of structure.
  • New Year’s resolutions aren’t going as hoped (exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.).
  • Unrealistic “new year, new you” expectations from ourselves and those around us, even though little may have genuinely changed.
  • The new year has brought new opportunities that are hard to say “no” to, resulting in overcommitment.
  • Some occupations are now reverting to in-person appointments (teachers, physicians, therapists, etc.), which results in a complete change in routine.

What can you do about it:

  •  Offload those thoughts to somewhere more reliable, like a journal or a “to do” list.
  •  Select three to five must-do tasks per day. Focusing on doing a few things well will increase your chance of success.
  •  Estimate how long things take to do, then add a buffer. You know that house-building adage: plan for 30% time and budget overages. Well, it’s good to put some padding into our daily task planning, too.
  •  Break projects down into tasks.  Even something as “simple” as getting your oil changed is a series of small tasks:
    • Budgeting for the expense;
    • Finding a repair shop;
    • Calling to make an appointment;
    • Arranging for transportation to/from home to the repair shop (if necessary)
  •  Use your support team.  By enlisting someone to help as a reminder or accountability partner will increase motivation. Or maybe it’s as simple as delegating the task to another capable individual.
  • Calendarize essential tasks and meetings. Assigning a date/time to a task increases the probability of getting it done by around 70%.
  •  Do something small and meaningful first thing in the day. Small successes provide momentum. Make your bed. Right now. 🙂

Besides the tactical, task-oriented strategies, some basic self-care rituals may provide relief from stress and overwhelm:

  • Get adequate sleep: “Insomnia and other sleep problems may worsen symptoms of ADHD” (Harvard Health Publishing).
  • Get outside. Fresh air does a brain and body good.
  • Breathe. As simple as it sounds, even one minute of deep breathing can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by balancing the autonomic nervous system.
  • Talk to a friend. Sharing how you are feeling with someone you trust may help you cope with stress.
  • Engage with mindfulness/meditation.   According to ADDitude Magazine: “It improves your ability to control your attention by helping to strengthen your ability to self-observe, to train attention, and to develop different relationships to experiences that are stressful.”


Cindy Jobs

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