ADHD Self-Care – or – How to Recognize Your Unmet Needs when Adult ADHD Symptoms Cause You to Derail
For adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), self-care is something that often falls by the wayside. At any given time, you have a thousand things going on, most of which are in varying stages of completion. You’ve lost track of all the irons you have in the fire, and your ducks are not only not in a neat row, but they’ve also apparently flown south for the winter.
With so much “real life” stuff to juggle, who has the time for self-care? Definitely not you!
The media would have you believe that self-care is manicures, massages and mimosas. It’s three-hour long bubble baths, luxurious spa vacations, and uninterrupted walks on the beach with your favorite music or podcast to keep you company.
And while those things can be a type of self-care, there’s so much more to it than that.
Self-care can be anything that helps you maintain or improve your well-being.
It’s making sure you drink enough water, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and take your medications and supplements as prescribed.
Self-care can mean setting aside time to journal, exercise, or practice mindful meditation.
It’s blocking out an hour each week to meet with your therapist or an ADHD coach to find new ways to manage your condition. It’s blocking out 15 minutes each week to catch up with a friend or family member.
Self-care looks different for everyone. But it’s absolutely necessary for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and it needs to be prioritized at all costs in order to keep all of your tanks full and functioning.
Self-Care Begins with Self-Compassion
People with ADHD are often extremely compassionate people to those around them. When it comes to self-compassion, however, there’s a noticeable drought.
As a child, you likely experienced 20,000 more negative messages from those around you than your neurotypical peers – and it certainly didn’t get any better as you aged. You’re no stranger to frustration and self-doubt, which leads to a “Why does it even matter?” mentality.
“What’s the point to self-care?” your inner critic sneers. “It’s just one more thing to do and it’s not like it’s going to make a difference anyway.”
As long as your inner critic is still running the show, it’s going to be difficult to rise above negative self-talk. But by giving yourself some grace (AKA self-compassion), you can learn to make positive changes in your life.
Self-compassion is a necessary first step toward self-care because it allows you to push all the negatives aside and see things as they really are. You begin to understand not only what you need, but why it’s important. And even better, you’ll start to feel like you actually deserve to do what’s best for yourself!
Develop Your Self-Care Routine
It can be difficult to know what you should be doing for self-care, so you need to regularly check in with yourself.
Ask, what do I need right now?
- A glass of water?
- How about a five-minute break to stretch my legs?
- Do I need a minute to write down the things on my mind?
- Am I breathing correctly?
- Check-in with your BFF? (FYI: All of these things count as self-care.)
Listen to your body. What do you feel? Are you angry, sad, stressed, frustrated, or restless? Brainstorm short and long-term solutions that could resolve your negative feelings and add them to your self-care toolbox.
Try to look at yourself from a close friend or family member’s perspective. What would they say you needed? More sleep? A better system for time management? Better hygiene practices?
The thing most people forget to tell you about self-care is that it isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s making peace with a complicated relationship. Or, you may need to finally confront your past and engage in therapy, making changes that feel uncomfortable, or doing things you just plain don’t want to do, like cleaning the house and doing the laundry on Sundays so that you can start the week off fresh.
Explore These Common Self-Care Practices
The most important thing to consider when establishing more of a focus on your self-care is to pay attention to your desires and needs. Many adults with ADHD struggle with people pleasing, so they often don’t even know or recognize their own needs. Spending time to discover your own bliss, is a worthy use of your time. Here are some common self-care strategies and practices you can try.
- Make time for routine healthcare appointments.
- Sett and stick to a regular, reasonable bedtime. (Sleep is an ADHD self-care strategy game-changer)
- Eat regular, healthy meals throughout the day.
- Surround yourself with people who support and respect you.
- Set healthy boundaries.
- Learn that “No” is a complete sentence.
- Use a day planner to track appointments, due dates, and deadlines.
- Spend time on hobbies you enjoy.
If looking at this list makes you feel anxious, that’s OK. You don’t have to do all of these things at once. Remember, any progress is progress! Start with something you can do easily. Once that becomes a habit, add something else to your self-care routine.
Self-care is absolutely something that you need to schedule. It’s not something to do “later” or “when I have time” – it’s something that needs to be purposefully built into your day as a commitment to yourself and your well-being.
Some people, particularly those with ADHD, find that starting their day with solid, consistent self-care practices first thing in the morning is helpful so that they’re fresh. It’s much more difficult to focus on self-care when you’re busy, overwhelmed, tired, or frustrated. So, a great way to begin is to just do one thing differently tomorrow.
Self-Care is a Must for ADHD Adults!
When your mind is constantly running sprints, it can be difficult to slow down enough to focus on basic life and sanity-saving things. But no one can run at that pace forever. Self-care makes it easier to manage your ADHD symptoms…and you owe it to yourself to make it a priority!
Are you looking for ways to develop your self-compassion and self-care routines? I can help! Your FREE Discovery Call is only a click away.
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