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Top tips for students with ADHD to get ready for the term ahead

31/08/2020
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Returning to college or university after the summer is always a challenge. With the last two academic years being so interrupted due to the pandemic, this year comes with a whole new set of challenges. Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may require extra support due to the uncertainty and additional anxiety caused by the unique time we are living through.

Here are some top tips to help get this term off to a flying start:

Keep up to date with COVID-19 updates

Guidance about what we can or can’t do is regularly updated and so it’s important that you know what is expected in your place of study. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, you may be taking classes online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two. Make sure you know what to do if you or someone near you gets infected with Coronavirus. As we know, the pandemic can cause things to change very quickly, so check you know where to go for the most up-to-date information so you can keep on top of the latest developments.

Plan ahead & get organised

Being organised and planning ahead can be difficult for someone with ADHD, yet it can make a huge difference. If you have a lot to organise, dedicate some time specifically for doing this, and ask someone to help you with it, to guarantee you are prepared. Make sure you know which courses you are taking, when the term starts, and if there are any resources you need. If you need to visit different campuses or need to travel to college, then plan your route out, giving yourself lots of time, so as not to put yourself under pressure.

Keep your resources in an organised manner, make sure you have easy access to what you need, and it is easy to find. If organisation is not your strong point, here are some ideas to help you out:

  • Create a designated study space with minimal distractions, with everything you need. Tidy it regularly, ideally every day!
  • Not only is stationery great fun to buy and collect, but it can be really useful too! Some examples include planners, post-it notes, to-do lists, and notice boards. 
  • Technology can also be a great resource to stay organised. There are lots of productivity apps available and even something as simple as setting a reminder on your phone calendar can help you stay organised. It is important to note that whilst technology is great it can also be a hindrance at times too, and too many notifications can be a distraction. It is all about getting the balance right. You might find Singlecare’s article on 7 ADHD apps to stay organised a useful read.
  • Keep track of classes, meetings, appointments and your social life using a diary, Google calendar or an academic planner. Try not to use more than one of these or you’re likely to miss things and double-book yourself. You’re best to find the one method that works for you and stick to it.

Set realistic expectations

It is important to be realistic with any goals or expectations that you are setting yourself. The last thing you want to be doing is setting yourself up to fail by putting too much pressure on yourself. By planning ahead and utilising your timetable, you will be able to make educated decisions, and hopefully, keep your expectations realistic and achievable.

It is important to note that no matter how much planning we do, there are always going to be days that don’t go to plan. That’s why you should always build some flexibility into your timetable and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Stick to your routine

You’ve probably heard this a lot, but a consistent routine is really important for an ADHD brain. Try to wake up and go to bed at around the same time every night, and if you do have a late night, allow for how this will affect you the following day.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Another one you probably know, but certain food types can affect symptoms of ADHD. Going to university or college often means leaving home and it can be the first time someone takes charge of what they eat. Try to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid too much sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

Monitor ADHD symptoms

When it comes to ADHD, it’s important to listen to your body. A change in circumstances can affect symptoms of ADHD and if you notice any significant changes, you need to see a medical professional. This is particularly important if you take ADHD medication, as this may need to be adjusted.

Get vaccinated

Whether or not you get vaccinated against Covid-19 is of course a personal choice. However, the virus has been known to spread very quickly among students, so it’s wise to get as much protection as you can.  Students should also make sure they’ve had the MenACWY vaccine to prevent meningitis and septicaemia, which can be deadly.

Know where to get help

It’s not uncommon for adults with ADHD to experience anxiety and depression alongside their other symptoms. Colleges and universities will each have their own support network for students with mental health conditions. If you are struggling, then please reach out to someone who knows how to help you. If you have mental health concerns and don’t want to use the services provided by your college or university, here is a list of available Mental Health Charity Helplines that offer support.

Further help and guidance

Please contact us if you would like to find out more about the ADHD assessments and evidence-based treatments available at The ADHD Centre. You can reach us on 0800 061 4276   or by email at connect@adhdcentre.co.uk

Free resources

Our FREE E-Book Practical tips and techniques for students with ADHD is full of advice about studying with ADHD.

If you struggle to focus you might find this blog useful Seven ways for Students with ADHD to maintain focus

Updated August 2021

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