If you’re an adult with ADHD you’re probably no stranger to experiencing deeply negative thoughts. It can be difficult to pull yourself out of a state of melancholy, but if you can learn to recognise when this is happening, there are a few techniques you can use to bring yourself back to a point of optimism. You might want to try one or two of these ideas as we move into the New Year to help you to have the best possible 2022!
Talk It Out
It’s really beneficial to be able to talk to someone who will listen to you when you’re feeling low. This needs to be someone who won’t try to fix you but who can provide you with some reassurance. This could be a trusted friend or family member. If you’re struggling to find a person to offload to, even talking to a dog can help; it’s hard to feel down for long around a super enthusiastic canine companion!
Writing down your thoughts can be a really powerful way to dump all the negativity out of your brain and onto paper. It’s generally thought to be better to write by hand as the connection to your brain is stronger, but you can of course type if this is what you prefer. Journalling is a great way to lift your mood and is an effective outlet for your emotions. In Writing My Way To A Happier Me, the writer describes how journaling has a healing effect on her and helps her to manage symptoms of ADHD.
Seek Out Optimists
Have you ever noticed that being around certain people can affect your mood? Some people can make you feel really down while others seem to be skilled at lifting you up. We can’t always choose the people we spend time with, but it’s worth seeking out people who naturally spread optimism and prioritising spending time with them. You may already do this subconsciously.
There are probably times when you struggle to think positive thoughts, but it is possible with just a little amount of brain training. Positive thinking is extremely powerful and surprisingly easy once you realise that the positives are usually right there next to the negatives. Did you know that your brain is not capable of thinking both positively and negatively at the same time? Looking for and finding the positives is a great way to keep negativity at bay. The article ADHD and the Power of Positive Thinking has more information on this subject.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015)
By comparison, someone with a fixed mindset believes they won’t improve at something no matter how hard they try, so there’s no point in trying.
A growth mindset helps people to be optimistic and feel good about what they’re doing. Adopting a growth mindset can be amazing for someone with ADHD as they will feel encouraged and motivated to complete tasks, even when they’re challenging. What is Growth Mindset? has some great ideas about this subject including how to turn negative thoughts into positive self-talk e.g. ‘I’ll try a new strategy’ instead of ‘I give up.’ You might also like to try using positive affirmations; they are a kind of self-talk, that can be used as part of developing a growth mindset.
Start Something New
There’s no time like the new year to start something new. This could be a DIY project you’ve been thinking about for ages, taking up a new hobby or joining a gym. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you will look forward to and enjoy doing. If you’re anticipating enjoyment, you’ll feel happier.
Mindful meditation is used as an ADHD treatment to help to reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is a way to focus the mind on the present moment and not worry so much about past and future events that you can’t control. If you are interested in learning about mindfulness, we offer a six-part mindfulness course. Follow the link below to find out more and take the first lesson for free. Essential Mindfulness Course
This might be a challenge when you’re feeling down, but getting up and moving your body really does help. Even just a walk to blow away the cobwebs can work wonders for the mind. Regular exercise is a natural way to treat ADHD symptoms. Exercise helps to increase the release of dopamine, which is underactive in the ADHD brain. It improves the ability to focus and increases attention span. One way to motivate yourself to exercise is to join a class or a club that you pay for in advance. You’re more likely to take part if you have already committed to it. Another tactic is to tell someone that you’re going to do it, and ask them to check later on that you actually did it.
Stress exacerbates ADHD symptoms and often leads to negative thoughts as the mind becomes overwhelmed and can’t see a way out. Identifying the root cause of your stress will enable you to manage it more effectively. If it’s work-related, see if there is any available support you can use. If it’s home or health-related, what can you do to ease your burden? You may need to modify your lifestyle, and while certain changes might seem unachievable at first, people rarely regret making adjustments that reduce their stress levels.
Of course, these ideas are not all quick fixes; some will take time to perfect and some just won’t be suitable for you at all. Remember too that everyone has their off days and they do pass. If, however, you find you can’t get out of a state of melancholy, consider that you might be suffering from depression and please seek out professional help.
At the ADHD Centre, we offer a range of ADHD treatments and therapies that use positive psychology to help build self-esteem and increase motivation. Please contact us to find out more about our ADHD Assessments and bespoke evidence-based treatments. You can reach us on 0800 061 4276 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org