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3 Steps for Managing ADHD Emotions During Lockdown


A common symptom of ADHD is to experience deep emotional reactions that can be difficult to handle such as frustration, impatience and excitability. An ADHD brain can find itself reacting to every negative situation as if it is of grave concern even when in fact, it can be resolved relatively easily and quickly. This is why people with ADHD have a tendency to exaggerate and catastrophize situations.

The brain can get flooded by one single emotion which makes it hard to see reason or to concentrate on anything else. Understandably, the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting periods of lockdown have led to a rise in anxiety among those with ADHD.

If you have ADHD and find yourself struggling to handle emotionally upsetting issues, there is a three-step process that we recommend to help you deal with it.

1. Learn to identify your feelings

When something happens that causes a deep emotional reaction, someone with ADHD will often experience a physical trigger. An example of this could be a tightening of the chest, you might ‘freeze’ and feel unable to move or notice a flooding feeling of overwhelm. It varies from person to person but once you have identified emotions such as fear, anxiety or frustration, you can learn what to do next to deal with this kind of situation effectively before it escalates.

2. Take a Mindful Pause

When you are overcome with emotion, it’s difficult to focus on anything else and you can make bad decisions. Taking some time can be helpful regardless of whether the issue is upset, anger or another emotion. If you can, try to do something to distance yourself from the situation. This gives you time to settle the mind, bring you back to a state of calm and stops you from acting in the moment. The best distraction is usually a practical or physical activity that stimulates the senses. It may take time to find out what suits you best as it varies from person to person. Some people find meditation particularly helpful and it’s certainly worth trying if you haven’t considered it before.  This short meditation is a great way to overcome stress when you can feel it overwhelming your body Five Minute Mindful Pause.

3. Return to the situation

You need to return to the situation with a clearer head and possibly a new perspective. Only do this when you are ready. Here are some tips for handling challenging issues:

  • Don’t respond when you are at your most emotional
  • If you can, wait 24 hours before responding to upsetting emails, voice messages or other emotionally upsetting events.
  • Put off big decisions until you allow yourself more time to process things more fully.
  • Try to gather more information on the issue.
  • Talk to other people about it and ask for their objective opinions.

Learning to manage emotions is not easy to do for people with ADHD and it will take time and practice. The first step of identifying your emotions is the most crucial in being able to deal with them. This is especially challenging for children and they will need a lot of support to be able to learn to recognise and deal with deep emotional reactions.

One last thing

The process described works for different emotional reactions but a key point to remember is that difficult situations don’t last. In the case of the current global pandemic, although it seems pretty bad right now,  we know that it will end. Scientists have done an amazing job of producing vaccines in record time and for many people, there is an end in sight. While we need to live in the present moment, it’s important we look forward to a more positive future.

At The ADHD Centre, we offer an ADHD Test Online for you to know or confirm if you or a loved one happens to have ADHD. If you would also like further advice about managing emotions or any other aspects of ADHD assessment and treatment, please contact us on 0800 061 4276 or by email at [email protected]

Further information

This conversation has some great tips for taking control of emotional intelligence in order to live a happier life.

Emotional Intelligence with Dan Goleman

Click on the link to listen to one of our ADHD coaches giving advice about how to manage during lockdown.

6 Tips To Keep On An Even Keel During Lockdown

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We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.

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