By Alexia Wensing, B.A., MACP (IP)
**This article is not written by a doctor or licensed professional of any kind, if you feel that you may struggle with ADHD, contact a doctor or mental health professional directly to discuss**
No one is you, and that is your power.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD, as described by the DSM-5, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by disruptive amounts of inattention, a lack of organization causing difficulties with staying on task, listening, and losing belongings atypical to age or developmental stage (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). An individual with ADHD may also depict hyperactivity-impulsivity, presenting in overactivity, restlessness or fiddling, impatience, and focusing more on others than one’s self.
ADHD in childhood often persists into adulthood, causing social, vocational, and academic impairments. Being labelled as a neurodevelopmental disorder in the DSM-5 speaks to a level of biological malfunction, as well, that occurs to allow for ADHD to manifest. Neurodevelopmental disorders are illustrated by developmental shortcomings that cause for these difficulties personally, socially, academically, and so on (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Please note that we are all different, beautifully unique individuals! So as mentioned prior, please consult a licensed, designated professional if you feel you may be struggling with ADHD. Some people do well with medication, dietary changes or restrictions, or simply what we are going to talk about next!
Relaxation: The Research
If it hasn’t become obvious already, ADHD can pose to be very stressful to cope with, so I have compiled a list of relaxation techniques that should come in handy in your daily routine.
Mindfulness training and techniques have been recognized to be effective to help individuals struggling with depression, stress, pain, and illness (Van de Weijer-Bergsma et al, 2012).
A published peer-reviewed study in a scientific journal from the same authors above, Van de Weijer-Bergsma et al. (2012) also found that mindfulness training works on 3 levels relative to our mental functioning:
Mindfulness meditation fixates on bettering the ability to control one’s attention and reducing those potentially disruptive automatic responsive. It slows breathing and heart rate, too, enabling a better sense of calm when feeling restless or unable to focus.
2. Neuropsychological (essentially, how our brains function more scientifically!)
Mindfulness meditation improves peformance on tasks measuring executive function, so attention, working memory, and cognitive control. This essentially speaks to how well we can process and retain the information that we are trying to learn.
3. Brain level (the areas that are activated, how they related to our daily functioning!)
The areas that experienced changes in activity in this study also backed the notions for how effective mindfulness training can be for those struggling with ADHD, whether an adolescent, or for adults that are continuing to experience it as they have grown.
What’s awesome about this
It’s inexpensive, non-pharmaceutical, and sustainable! My favourite meditation app is Headspace, they have great guided meditation options and it’s super easy to navigate! It’s all about working it into your daily routine based on what works for you. I like to meditate when I wake up to start the day with the best intentions, and before I go to sleep to reflect on the day and practice gratitude, at 10 minutes each.
Therapeutic mind-body practices
A large panel study focusing on large bodies of work and studies at the American Public Health Association summarized techniques that can strongly benefit our mental health. One area focused on ADHD, here is what they had to say:
Practicing yoga has shown to provide great benefits to those struggling with ADHD, according to one of the panelists, and M.D. with 31 years of experience of clinical practice, having published over 90 scientific articles, and being well-versed in the area of non-drug treatment for ADHD.
2. Breathing techniques
Dr. Patricia Gerbarg also speaks to the effectiveness of breathing techniques, best done with closed eyes, in a peaceful space, inhaling and exhaling at equal length, while the breath is slow and gentle, without over-exerting muscles to inhale and exhale.
It has also been very effective for children, who typically struggle heavily with ADHD, whereas adults may also struggle, but have better mental capacity and a more mature brain to help with ways to cope. A pilot study of 80 children who participated in a 6-week program involving yoga and meditation, where yoga and meditation were performed for 25 minutes, and postures and simply breathing techniques were used. lead to measurable benefits in children struggling with this disorder (Mehta et al, 2011).
3. Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is just a good idea, always. It keeps us healthy in so many ways; physically, of course, our cardiovascular systems and our respiratory systems benefit beyond words! The mental health benefits are also significant. Therapy manuals utilized in psychoeducation sessions with patients mentions exercise to be regularly scheduled, and for a routine to be established (Weiss et al., 2012). In the Alternative Medicine Review (Pellow, Solomon, & Barnard, 2011) explain that regular exercise that is cognitively, socially, and aerobically challenging will produce the utmost benefit for those struggling with ADHD- so join a yoga class, or a running group! It will also help with the restlessness and fidgeting tendencies, if some energy has been released. These are great options.
What’s awesome about this
It can be really fun! Easily implemented into your weekly routine/schedule, and something awesome to look forward too. You’ll feel better, make some friends, and love yourself for it.
What does this mean for us?
So, here’s the big take away:
This shows us how to listen to our bodies, and to tend to our individual needs.
There is no “one solution fits all” way of going about coping with, and ideally alleviating the symptoms associated with ADHD. We need to test drive different options and be patient in seeing the benefits. What works for one may not work for another. It can be a difficult disorder to live with; feeling like achieving any goals you may have is almost unattainable at times, so we hope this helps with even the hardest of days, to help get you that much closer to feeling a bit more peaceful. Show yourself some love and care by taking the steps, the time, the mental effort to find what works for you. You truly deserve it!
- Brown, R. P. (2013, November). Therapeutic mind-body practices: Yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation for treatment of stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and schizophrenia. In 141st APHA Annual Meeting (November 2-November 6, 2013). APHA.
- Mehta, S., Mehta, V., Mehta, S., Shah, D., Motiwala, A., Vardhan, J., … & Mehta, D. (2011). Multimodal behavior program for ADHD incorporating yoga and implemented by high school volunteers: a pilot study. ISRN pediatrics, 2011.
- Pellow, J., Solomon, E. M., & Barnard, C. N. (2011). Complementary and alternative medical therapies for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Alternative Medicine Review, 16(4), 323.
- Van de Weijer-Bergsma, E., Formsma, A. R., de Bruin, E. I., & Bögels, S. M. (2012). The effectiveness of mindfulness training on behavioral problems and attentional functioning in adolescents with ADHD. Journal of child and family studies, 21(5), 775-787.
- Weiss, M., Murray, C., Wasdell, M., Greenfield, B., Giles, L., & Hechtman, L. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of CBT therapy for adults with ADHD with and without medication. BMC psychiatry, 12(1), 30.