Dealing With The Anxiety That Comes From Having ADHD Lexi Frank Newhall, MFT, is a founding member of The Well Clinic in San Francisco, California. She works with a network of mental health providers to find a unique, holistic treatment plan for each patient and specializes in women’s health.
How To Manage ADHD And Control Anxiety
There are five things that I have found helpful in working through anxiety in ADHD clients:
- Be realistic about the challenges you face. No one is good at everything. The sooner you work through the process of identifying, articulating and acknowledging the areas which you find challenging, the faster you can find ways to better manage them and reduce the anxiety they create.
- Lead with what you’re good at. One of the best ways people with ADHD can combat their anxiety is by doing what they are good at and seeking help with the tasks with which they struggle. ADHD adults are more likely to be creative thinkers, making intuitive mental leaps to new understandings of problems and solutions. While it might be hard for someone with ADHD to complete routine tasks, they are able to hyper focus on subjects of interest to them. My advice to ADHD adults with anxiety is to pursue careers that welcome and reward this kind of fresh thinking.
- Learn your personal process. The next piece of advice I have is to learn your personal process for completing tasks. Many ADHD adults think in a more circuitous manner, starting several tasks at once rather than taking a more linear approach and tackling one at a time. You might start a few things at once and slowly finish each task in a random order. The sooner you can get a feel for your personal rhythm, the sooner you can appreciate and plan your unique work style and stop comparing yourself to more conventional linear patterns. If you know it takes you longer to complete several tasks and need time to stop along the way, you can plan for that, your anxiety will go down and your confidence will go up the next time.
- Acknowledge your anxiety. Next, I encourage my ADHD clients to welcome their anxiety. You will likely feel anxious before you have to complete any task and that’s ok. Learning to acknowledge and welcome anxiety will allow you to anticipate the challenging feelings rather than impulsively acting on them or becoming derailed by them. I often work a lot with clients on building skills to do this.
- Train your brain through meditation. I feel confident that the most effective way to combat anxiety is through a regular meditation practice. The brain is like any other muscle, the more you work it out, the stronger it gets. By meditating every day you are training your brain to focus for longer amounts of time, affording you the opportunity to be more patient and pragmatic about prioritizing and executing tasks. However, meditation is a technique that needs to be practiced regularly – daily, for a minimum of five to twenty minutes. There’s little benefit, if you only meditate occasionally.
ADHD And Anxiety Are Treatable