ADHD in Adults: How Stepping Back and Pausing Gets More Done

ADHD in Adults: How Stepping Back and Pausing Gets More Done
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Do you have ADHD with a brain that is busy, creative, and full of random thoughts? Do you often feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and worried? And does being stressed out make you feel even more scattered and forgetful which, of course, leads to feeling more overwhelmed? At this point, pausing is a great strategy to help you get off the merry go round.

When you are in a state of go, go, go, the idea of pausing probably feels counter-intuitive, even you’re on automatic pilot and not so aware of what you’re actually doing. I can’t pause, I have too much to do! I have to get this done! But maybe, you’ve been reading the same paragraph over and over again because you’re too distracted to comprehend it.

Or you’ve spent hours on a website that has absolutely nothing to do with what you meant to be doing. Or you feel foggy and unable to think clearly no matter how hard you try, but you keep trying.

Remember that the word pause means to briefly interrupt action or speech – it does not mean stopping or giving up. Pausing can take the form of stepping back for a short period of time so you start again with more energy, awareness, and direction. Here are some ways to use the strategy of pausing to get more done:

  1. Set a timer as a reminder a few times a day to pause and ask yourself, “Is what I am doing right now serving me?” That question can help you realize that you are caught up in researching something like where to get the least expensive chicken thighs when there are so many more important things that need your attention.
  1. Take a short pause to care for your body. Do you need to eat or drink something? Are you stiff, uncomfortable, or restless? Maybe it’s time to take a walk around the block or do some yoga or stretching. If you’re frustrated, running up and down some stairs or doing jumping jacks can help dispel some of that energy. Everyone is different. This is a time to step back and ask what your body needs from you.
  1. If you are feeling foggy or mentally exhausted, maybe your brain needs a break. Short mindfulness exercises that focus on your senses can let your brain refresh itself. If meditation is challenging for you, here are three relatively short exercises that can be a gift for your brain.
  • Pick a color and spend a few minutes looking for it around you. You may be amazed at all the things you find inside or in nature that include the color you picked.
  • Listen to sounds. Get out of thinking for a while and pay attention to the sounds you hear. You can try to identify them (truck, dog barking, heater, etc.) or you can listen to them as if you are hearing them for the first time. What are the qualities of the sounds? Rumbling? Loud? Jarring? Soft?
  • Relax your body and consciously breathe. Close your eyes and take a few minutes to notice where in your body you hold tension. Common areas are the jaw, neck, or shoulders. See if you can consciously relax those parts of the body. Then take 5 or 6 slow deep breaths. And when you’re ready, you can move back to what you want or need to do in a more relaxed state.
  1. Take the time to plan your day, either in the morning or the evening before. Set a timer to pause a few times during the day to look at what you planned. Those moments of checking in with yourself help you reassess your priorities and make sure you’re on track. It’s so easy to just jump into whatever calls to you, stay with it even though it’s not a priority, and then the whole day is gone. (We’ve all done it!)

If you would like to explore whether ADHD coaching can be helpful for you, please contact me for a free consultation. I’d love to talk with you!

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