Much more is at play which largely complicates it for ADDers to keep up with expectations like “just set up a good routine for yourself and follow it.”
Routines do provide great structure and can considerably reduce stress in our day to day living. However, if helpful routines seem out of your reach or keep slipping out of your ADHD management toolbox, take heart. Once you understand more about the part ADHD itself plays in this difficulty, you can stop blaming yourself for what you experience.
ADHD displays its highly challenging impact in the lives of all in the family/household/working environment and adds considerably to stress in the immediate environment, especially if it is perceived incorrectly.
You need to give yourself the space you deserve to be able to make things work for you.
On a practical level, the inherent nature of ADHD, as described in it being an executive function (EF) disorder, makes it very hard to establish and sustain daily routines. The EFs of the brain is responsible for all kinds of self management skills, including coordinating actions and sustaining efforts – skills required for time management, prioritization, organisation, planning, independence and almost anything we do.
Proven routine strategies which help easing off ADHD symptoms – like regular healthy exercise, enough good sleep, optimal nutrition- are directly undermined by this ADHD difficulty.
Establishing and maintaining healthier habits that make everything running smoother with less stress, is indeed much harder work for the ADDer and requires much more effort on everybody’s side.
Personally, the challenge of waking up and starting the day with a healthy morning self care routine which includes exercise and meditation, do become easier with practicing a greater acceptance of what I come to find is true for (even only) myself. Experiencing the effect of how this practise spills out into the rest of my day’s schedule and mood, serves as a deep inner motivation to put in the continuous effort of making it work.
The very 1st step towards addressing the arising stress and problems is to SEE IT JUST AS IT IS.
Identify the specific detail of the ways in which ADHD is playing out for you in a specific life area.
Only then, think about what you can and are going to do about it.
Although not being an excuse, ADHD is an explanation.
- Educate yourself and others as much as you can and involve the feedback and support of everybody else as you cut into deeper understanding.
- Discern if and how blaming is helping at all – and let it go.
- Adjust short term expectations, including your own.
- Externalising your internal system to reinforce the learning/execution of necessary skills (e.g. write things down vs trying to keep it all in your head, use timers, various forms of reminders etc.)
- Become willing to ask for whatever form of support you need by exploring the cost of not-asking for yourself.
- Use your energy wisely – Attend to what your specific needs are…always, and most important, as only you know it!
- Give yourself permission to go about satisfying your needs differently.
- It is not necessary to give up on any long term expectations, attend to taking action on what might work for you from day to day.
- Remind yourself that the initial effort and stress will lift once the actual set up and follow through of habits and routines have become part of your daily life
- Change do take time, be compassionate with yourself
Do not try to address all the issues which ADHD presents to you all at once.
- Pick ONE issue at a time. Eg. What is most disruptive?
- Break the issue up into different MANAGEABLE PARTS until each will give you the experience of it being EASY TO DO.
- CELEBRATING EVERY SMALL SUCCESS will greatly serve you in making easier to forgive yourself for any inconsistency.
- Once this one routine/structure is established, get on to the NEXT ONE important thing.