Applying Mindfulness Strategies to Manage ADHD
Even at the best of times, our mind naturally tends to wander, browsing for something more immediately pleasurable to settle on. For those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), staying focused on one thing is a daunting challenge unless the activity is inherently rewarding.
However, in contrast to the inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that characterize ADHD, individuals with ADHD also have the unique capacity for superfocus on what they love. Unable to control their impulses, they move from one thing to another, until they find something that captivates attention.
Then they dive in, with no fear of getting lost in time. That’s in fact a good thing. For some however that’s not a good thing. They forget everything else, often missing deadlines at work or school. Then the last-minute frenzy required to get back on track exacerbates their already high anxiety.
How Mindfulness Can Help
Many people find that applying strategies from mindfulness practice can help to reduce the inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity characteristics of ADHD.
Mindfulness can also help when it comes to putting the strengths of ADHD to work.
Recognizing and working with the two contrasting characteristics of inattention and superfocus can be a powerful way to positively manage ADHD symptoms.
Inattention, one of the core traits of ADHD, is a deficit in holding attention on a task. It diminishes our ability to put things together cohesively, to plan and to organize our behavior.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is simply paying attention to what you do. Being mindful can help to guide your attention to a specific activity, thought or feeling.
It begins with recognizing what is happening inside and around you, with openness and curiosity, but without judgement. It is the ground zero, so to speak, from which your honest awareness builds.
Ideally, in that neutral state of mind, you can reflect on and discern habitual thought patterns and reactions, and choose alternatives to change impulsive behavior. You have a choice.
However, for individuals with ADHD, reaching this neutral state is not an easy task.
“Being mindful” is a simple but effective strategy to reduce distractions and improve focus, and reduce anxiety but improve self awareness. It helps to sort out and focus on what is real and ignore what is not.
To be continued in Part 2
About Sang H. Kim
Sang H. Kim, PhD is a lifetime martial artist and author of books on mindfulness, motivation, fitness and martial arts. His most recent book is Mindful Movement, and other books are also available at Amazon website. He blogs at MBX12.org.