ADHD and Mindfulness Training
For adults dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it often seems that you’re spending a lot of time chasing down the magic “solution”. Should you try medication? Are vitamin supplements helpful or harmful? Could cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) be useful in your case?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a magic solution, and something that works well for your friend or colleague isn’t necessarily going to work well for you. It’s all trial and error, and you’re going to go back to the drawing board more times than you want to admit.
There is, however, a practice that’s been proven effective in a staggering 78 percent of study participants: mindfulness meditation training.
The 2008 study was comprised of 24 adults and eight children, all of whom had a formal ADHD diagnosis. The participants were enrolled in an eight-week mindfulness training program.
During those eight weeks, participants attended weekly meditation classes and committed to daily at-home practice sessions consisting of guided sitting meditations.
The result? Seventy-eight percent reported a reduction in ADHD symptoms and 30 percent reported clinically reduced symptoms, defined as a reduction of at least 30 percent.
As a welcome — albeit unintended consequence of the study, participants also reported that their anxiety and depression symptoms improved, as well.
So what is mindfulness training and why is it so effective for those living with adult ADHD? Let’s explore.
Mindfulness Training: Your Guide to Yourself
Mindfulness training, often called mindfulness meditation or simply “mindfulness”, is the practice of focusing internally. It’s about offering your full attention to what’s happening inside your body and brain…what you’re sensing, thinking, and feeling. Essentially, it’s connecting with yourself without interference or fear of being judged.
Although many people still equate meditation with a bearded yogi sitting cross-legged on the floor and chanting “om” over and over again, that’s not what we’re talking about here. You can practice mindfulness anywhere – in your favorite chair, while you’re folding the laundry, or even during your morning commute. There’s no special equipment required and no one but you is going to have any idea what you’re doing.
Check out the awesome resources on the Huberman Lab Podcast and his resources on mastering sleep, and nonsleep deep rest protocols (NSDR)
Try This Simple Mindfulness Exercise
You can start easily with this two-minute exercise. Try it now. Don’t be intimidated, even if it’s your first time attempting meditation, you really can’t do it wrong. If you want to bail, just open your eyes.
- Set a 2-minute timer. (I love using my smart speaker to set a reminder bell for 2 minutes).
- Sit up straight in your chair or on the floor. Square your feet on the floor and center yourself so you feel balanced in your sitting position.
- Close your eyes – settle into the feeling of having your eyes closed and drop your shoulders.
- Notice what you hear, feel, and smell.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. Repeat your deep breathing for 8 rounds.
- Get quiet and focus inside yourself. Pay attention to the way your chest rises and falls with each breath.
- Now, allow your mind to wander. Don’t try to force it in any one direction; just let your thoughts come and go. If it helps, picture your thoughts as waves rolling in and out or as clouds drifting by. See them, notice them, witness them – and then let them move on.
- If you feel yourself beginning to drift in a negative direction – beginning to worry about how you look, for instance, or stressing out about what you’re going to make for dinner or how you’re going to get that report done for the office by the end of the week – just let that thought come into your focus and then let it go.
- Breathe to recenter yourself. Focus on your breathing and allow your thoughts to bubble up, pass through and let them go.
- After you’ve completed the 2 minutes, just open your eyes. It’s that simple.
Congratulations. You have just practiced mindful meditation. Mindfulness is not clearing your mind, it is intentionally being in present-moment awareness. When you practice shifting away from the distracting thought back to your breath, you are practicing present-moment awareness and mindfulness.
In the beginning, try to stick to short meditations, generally three to five minutes in duration. As the practice becomes more familiar, you can gradually increase your sessions. According to Healthline, meditating for 13 minutes per day for eight weeks is enough to show benefits.
ADHD and Mindfulness: A Winning Combination?
Mindfulness training can have a big impact on anyone. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, it can:
- Decrease stress
- Combat insomnia
- Lower heart rate and blood pressure
- Relieve pain
- Reduce stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms
For those with ADHD, however, the benefits increase. Mindfulness makes you more aware of yourself and your surroundings. It decreases impulsivity and increases your focus and attention to detail. It helps you to slow down your racing thoughts and have more control over yourself and your actions. And it allows you to know yourself on a deeper level, which helps you accept yourself for who you are – limitations and all!
There is no “cure” for ADHD. But there are many lifestyle habits, behaviors, and strategies that can help you live well with your ADHD. Creating deliberate practices to slow things down and focus your attention inward will help you manage the stress and constant energies that come into your field to manage. Your best life is available when you find strategies that work for us and do them often and consistently. And, based on the research, developing a mindfulness practice, (or at least options to tap into this coping skill regularly) is a great skill to add to your ADHD toolbox! If you’d prefer to follow a more structured leader, a simple YouTube search can lead to many scripts and make it super easy.
Are you interested in finding new ways to improve your quality of life and combat negative habits caused by ADHD? Put yourself on my calendar! Booking a Discover Call is free, quick, and easy. Connect with me here.