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February 17, 2023
5 Tips And Strategies To Manage ADHD Without Medication

Robert Simms

A page in a notebook is entitled “What ADHD can look like” and lists symptoms of ADHD.

5 Practical Strategies To Live A Full Life With ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically treated with stimulants and other medications. But many people with ADHD find that medication isn't the only solution. There are many strategies that can help you manage ADHD without medication.

Understand your ADHD

The first step in managing ADHD is to understand it and how it affects you. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD — or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause problems with focus, impulse control and overactivity. Other common ADHD symptoms include trouble paying attention, forgetfulness, restlessness, and fidgeting. However, since ADHD affects executive functioning skills — like emotional regulation and time management — people can experience a wide range of symptoms.

Another potential step in managing ADHD is getting a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Although ADHD can be correctly self-diagnosed, getting a formal diagnosis can be an important step toward treatment. It can confirm your thoughts or fears and help you understand how your symptoms affect you and your loved ones. It can also affirm that there's nothing wrong with you — ADHD affects many people!

Here are five tips that can help you manage your ADHD and live a full life.

1. Practice organizational skills

If you have ADHD organization can be a challenge. For example, you might be easily distracted by a conversation or TV show that pops up on your screen. Getting distracted can leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. People with ADHD also struggle to prioritize tasks. It's easy to get wrapped up in checking Facebook or taking a "quick" break before finishing something important.

Scheduling your day will help you set goals and stay on track. Set deadlines for each task and decide what needs to be done first. I recommend writing down your tasks and putting the list where you can see it. Writing tasks down can help you see what you’ve accomplished and stay organized throughout the week. 

Another organizational tip is to place things at the “point of performance”. For example, keep a laundry basket in your bedroom instead of in the laundry room. Or put your wallet in the same place all the time so you don’t forget where you set it down. 

Most importantly, find an organizational system that works for you. 

2. Practice time management

Time management goes hand in hand with organization. Time management skills help you stay focused and achieve your goals. 

Write down your daily tasks and make them specific. For example,  instead of "clean room," set a goal to "clean the closet" or "sweep the floor". Include only the most important tasks in your schedule. Then break each task into smaller chunks. For example, if you have five big tasks on your list, break them into smaller chunks so they feel more manageable.

3. Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is a great time management method. You set a timer for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After you repeat this cycle several times, you can take a 15-30-minute break if needed. These are guidelines for the Pomodoro technique, but you can change the length of time and number of cycles to fit your needs.  

4. Exercise regularly

As you know, exercise is good for your health. It can help you sleep better, manage stress, and maintain a healthy weight. But it can also help with more serious issues like depression and anxiety.

Exercise releases endorphins — the happy neurotransmitters in our brains that make us feel good — and increases blood flow to your brain. This is especially important for managing ADHD. High levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are released during exercise, which helps improve concentration and focus.

Most people with ADHD have low dopamine levels, which is why they tend to get distracted. Anything that boosts these levels naturally may alleviate some of your ADHD symptoms.

Research has shown that exercise is almost as effective as medication to manage ADHD symptoms.

5. Get enough sleep

To get the most out of your day, you need to be rested. Sleep is when your brain consolidates memories, processes information, and releases hormones that help you feel good. While it’s true that many people with ADHD have trouble sleeping, you can take steps to ensure you get enough rest.

First, make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your room dark and cool
  • Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed
  • Keep pets out of the room if they are restless sleepers 
  • Turn off all lights except one small lamp near the bed
  • Don’t eat too much before going to bed
  • Remove items that remind you of work
  • Avoid clutter
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive.

Next, try to get up at the same time every day. This will help your body’s internal clock function properly and make it easier to fall asleep at night. If you have trouble sleeping because you worry about things, write down your concerns and take action on them as soon as possible.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different. Some people require medication to manage ADHD, while others can manage it without. If you feel like you’re struggling with ADHD, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You can also consider working with a therapist or trying some of these strategies.

Shift has qualified therapists that specialize in ADHD. We invite you to take our free questionnaire to find the right match, or browse our experienced therapists yourself! 

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