Handling ADHD & Stress Efficiently: Is it Possible?
Is having ADHD stressful? What role does stress play in the lives of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how can they cope with it? In this article, we'll examine some common questions about how stress affects those with ADHD and what they can do about it.
Table of Contents
Handling ADHD & Stress Efficiently: Is it Possible?
1. The Buildup of Stress in People with ADHD
~ Chronic Stress Due to ADHD
~ Children with ADHD can Experience Stress, Too
~ ADHD Symptoms that can Contribute to Stress
~ Forgetfulness and Dealing with Deadlines
~ Being Socially Awkward and Fear of Being Judged
~ Making Mistakes and Dealing with Daily Life
2. How to Manage Stress and ADHD Symptoms
ADHD & Stress FAQs
The Buildup of Stress in People with ADHD
Stress is natural for everyone👌. It is how we respond to a threat or pressure. In many cases, we experience stress most when we feel bombarded with problems and difficulties in our lives. However, we have to deal with them to achieve our goals and reach our full potential or be happy 🙂.
I came across a beautiful analogy comparing the stress and pressure we experience to that of a journey on a ship 🚢 The water around the vessel signifies all the tension, problems, and struggles that we encounter, and we are the ship sailing through these waters. Some days the water is calm, and some days it is rough and hard to manage 🌊. But we'll make it if we don't let more stress come in and sink our vessel. This analogy is a great motivation to get up and live another day, no matter how hard it is.
I know that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder already face different challenges. They must think of ways to manage ADHD symptoms and live a life where they need not worry about all the external events around them. But, our condition does not exempt us from the stress other people go through 😉. Hence, we must learn how to cope with stress and our ADHD or the stress resulting from our ADHD.
Chronic Stress Due to ADHD
Adult ADHD can significantly contribute to the seemingly high-stress levels we tend to experience. When symptoms of ADHD aren't managed well, our life can feel like it's one big problem with little problems of its own. The result of ADHD and stress can be overwhelming and tiring, both mentally and physically 😫. That's why it is essential to get an ADHD diagnosis and talk to your mental health professional 👩⚕️ regularly to deal with the common symptoms that can contribute to stress.
Mental health problems might continue when we struggle to manage stress and ADHD well. Aside from the instances when unmanaged stress and problems exacerbate ADHD symptoms, research shows that stress can also lead to the development of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression 😭. Plus, prolonged stress can affect our physical health in different ways.
Chronic stress results from long-term exposure to stressful situations, such as work issues, problems in relationships, or financial difficulties. It can also be caused by a significant life event or a series of smaller ones accumulated over time. For people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, plenty of core ADHD symptoms can contribute to higher stress levels and may even cause brain function to change🧠. Not only that, but there’s a study relating the change in brain structure, specifically the prefrontal cortex, due to chronic stress.
Understanding where immense stress and pressure are coming from is essential to prevent a more serious problem. In the case of many people with ADHD, we must be more aware of the different symptoms that can contribute to chronic stress💪.
Children with ADHD can Experience Stress, Too
There's no rule saying only adults can undergo stress. Children can - and will - get stressed, too 🧒. After all, they might find it hard to manage emotions, have trouble focusing on school activities or tasks, and have low self-esteem because of their little mistakes. Come to think of it, sometimes, childhood traumas aren't even noticed and addressed until we become adults. In other words, no matter what our age is, stress can affect us significantly..
When I was younger and hadn't been officially diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I asked our family doctor about my negative emotions and stress. He didn't take me seriously. Some people might think that children's anxiety and ADHD are shallow and can be solved by just going to amusement parks or letting them use cell phones or gadgets 📱.
If only, but that’s not the case.
Just because we are still young, doesn't mean our emotions and problems are any less valid. The American Academy of Pediatrics even reported that ignoring children's stress can lead to significant health risks in adulthood. These children, especially those with ADHD, can have chronic difficulties feeling stressed because they have not yet developed ways to manage stress independently🥺.
ADHD Symptoms that can Contribute to Stress
While stress can worsen symptoms of ADHD, the other way can also be true. ADHD and stress can feed off each other in a never-ending cycle where one problem can affect the other and vice versa 🌀. This is why it is important to be equipped with knowledge and understanding to manage these challenges well.
Forgetfulness and Dealing with Deadlines
As adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder tend to be easily distracted by different little things and think of a thousand thoughts 💭 in a moment, we might always have difficulties remembering small details, information, or even where we put our seventh eyeglass 👓. We tend to have trouble concentrating on these things because our minds are already occupied with other things, even if they’re not important.
Also, adult ADHD symptoms can be caused by how this neurodivergent disorder affects our Working Memory, wherein we have difficulties retaining and using information. Because of this, we may also miss deadlines 📆, whether at work or school, and have difficulty following instructions. It can be frustrating when we cannot focus on things and use the information that we need, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
Being Socially Awkward and Fear of Being Judged
Neurodivergent people, especially adults, can be subjected to society's harsh criticisms. We might be called "weird," "lazy," "stupid," and a lot of other hurtful names just because we act or think differently. Other people's treatment can cause us emotional difficulties; sometimes, we may even doubt our capabilities because of what they say😔. The possibility of feeling stressed during these moments can be endless for those with adult ADHD.
ADHD symptoms can make us feel socially awkward with other people. How we interact with another person may cause our hyperactive-impulsive behavior to kick in and interrupt conversations. This can cause friction between us and others 💔. We often overthink and exhibit psychological symptoms of ADHD, where we might become over-sensitive to criticisms and have low self-esteem. The amount of stress from these problems can cause lifestyle changes or social withdrawal.
Making Mistakes and Dealing with Daily Life
One of the lesser known ADHD symptoms revolves around making mistakes often. As we all know, a single mistake can complicate a situation😨. What more if you’re always making mistakes even if you are trying to do your best? This can weigh down on our shoulders and fill us with a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when we are already under pressure.
It can be difficult to deal with adult ADHD, but it is not impossible. With the help of professionals 👩⚕️ and by constantly seeking out new information, we can manage our symptoms and learn how to cope with stress effectively. We can also join support groups and talk to others who are going through the same thing.
How to Manage Stress and ADHD Symptoms
When stress gets too complicated, it can make us lose weight (or gain due to stress eating), have sleep problems 🥱, and even lead to substance abuse 🍷. So, before things head south, we should find effective ways to manage our emotions and take care of our well-being.
Aside from having a diagnosis and knowing all the core ADHD symptoms, here are some ways to reduce stress:
- Look for activities that excite you. It doesn't have to be physical and can even be a brain game 🎯 wherein you take your mind off everything else and focus on the task at hand. We need to divert our attention and minimize stress whenever we feel that there's a need to.
- Talk to a family member or a friend. Look for someone who truly cares about you and your mental health 💏. ADHD adults need to be able to express themselves without feeling judged. Releasing some pressure can make us feel lighter and more at ease.
- Consult with a mental health professional. If the stress gets too overwhelming and starts to affect your daily life, it would be best to seek help from a therapist or a counselor👩⚕️ . They can help identify what might be triggering your anxiety and give you tips on managing your symptoms better. They can suggest a treatment plan or an ADHD medication that can make you feel better.
- Be closer to nature. According to research, keeping pets can be a great way to reduce stress. If not possible, go on an outdoor adventure where you can take in all the beauty that nature offers. Walking in the park or hiking 🍃 can do wonders for our brains.
- It's okay to not be okay. Sometimes, we need to accept that we might not be able to do everything. That is perfectly fine. It's essential to give ourselves a break and not put too much pressure on ourselves. We must learn to manage our expectations and take things one step at a time. Adult ADHD can be challenging, but we should never lose hope.
Stress Management can be challenging to handle, but with the right mindset, anything is possible💪. Emotional intelligence is the key to success. We need to learn how to deal better with our ADHD symptoms to manage our stress more efficiently.
If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to your doctor about your struggles and look for support groups in your area. You are not alone in this journey❤️ .
ADHD and Stress: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Is having ADHD stressful?
f you have ADHD, you know that there are many things in your life that can be stressful. Whether it's relationships, work, or just trying to find time for yourself, life with ADHD can be a challenge. So, yes, the symptoms of ADHD as well as the effects of those symptoms, can trigger stress. That’s not to say that ADHD is a bad thing because many good things also accompany this condition.
2. Can stress make ADHD worse?
Yes, stress can contribute to the worsening of your ADHD symptoms. It can also amplify the other mental health conditions you are experiencing, like anxiety and social awkwardness.
3. How do you manage stress when you have ADHD?
Changing your thoughts and actions can help you cope with life’s challenges, including ADHD and its resulting stress. Here are some ideas for managing stress:
- Take time each day to focus on something positive in your life (even if it's small).
- Set goals for yourself that are realistic but challenging—and reward yourself when you reach them!
- Find a hobby or activity that brings joy into your life; whether it's knitting or hiking, learning a new language or playing cards with friends—it's up to you!
Of course, don’t forget to seek help when needed.