ADHD and Anxiety Tips
Telling Them Apart – Which Comes First?
ADHD and Anxiety often have such close similarities that it can sometimes feel impossible to sort out one from the other. Many symptoms overlap making it tough to figure out if that symptom is related to your ADHD, your anxiety, or both.
Check out this blog entry I wrote talking about tricks to telling ADHD and anxiety symptoms apart – you can find it HERE.
I have been diagnosed with both since I was a teenager. However, in my adult life I am finding that my anxiety is really often related to things I’m anxious about relating to my ADHD. For example, I have realized that some of my social anxieties are because I am worried about what people will think of me based on ADHD symptoms.
I struggle with oversharing, keeping in touch with my friends, not remembering things I feel like I “should”, and losing things. I find that ADHD symptoms and being embarrassed by them has created a lifelong cloud of anxiety. People visiting my messy house, talking to groups of people, and going new places are all things that I have anxiety about.
Anxiety isn’t often one of the symptoms mentioned when you read about ADHD. My anxiety was treated for years and years before my ADHD was treated, even though I had both diagnosis. I have to wonder if my ADHD had been treated earlier if my anxiety would be less severe. Which came first? I don’t have the answer to that.
ADHD and Anxiety Management Tips
In my work with my therapist and coach, as well as working with my clients, I have found that many of us ADHD folks experience significant anxiety over our ADHD symptoms. In my experience so far this seems especially true for girls and women.
Here are some tips that I, or someone I know, have found helpful in managing both ADHD and Anxiety. As always, take what works and leave the rest!
Name it to tame it. This sounds simple but try it. There is great power in acknowledging your feeling out loud. Practice identifying when you are feeling anxious. Really – not just in your head, say them out loud.
Develop your own routines. Routines are difficult for many of us with ADHD. However, studies have shown that when we do find routines that work for us, they are one of the most beneficial tools for managing anxiety. We are all different, and therefore no specific routine will work for everyone – or even the majority of everyone. I don’t do well with rigorous schedules, but I have a “morning routine” and a “bedtime routine” that help keep me on track and quell anxieties. That’s what works for me, find what works for you. If you do enjoy more structured routines, make sure you leave time that is NOT structured. We all need down time!
Create your optimum environment. Creating your optimum environment can soothe both ADHD symptoms and anxiety. Set up your home or work office in ways that work for you whenever possible. Create several spaces if possible – I find it helpful to have a work area, a craft area, and a chill out area – that are all set up for what will work for me. You can pay attention to things like lighting, color schemes, decor, sensory objects, sound, etc. And having all the things you need easily reachable makes getting things done less anxiety-inducing.
Move your body. Most people will say exercise, I say move your body. When you feel anxious, try stretching, try a 2 minute dance party, take a short walk, change your position or whatever you want to do. Getting your blood flowing and focusing on that for just a moment can help tame the anxiety and allow us to focus again.
Be healthy-ish. Do what you can to be healthier. Nourish your body, provide it with ample rest, stay hydrated. Take your medications if that’s part of your health plan. Even small changes can have a significant impact on your ADHD and on your anxiety.
Lower your mask. If you find that you are anxious because you are worried how someone will perceive you due to your symptoms, try pushing past that fear when you can. Lowering the mask and raising our expectations of the people we interact with can help end the stigmas of both ADHD and anxiety. Masking is exhausting and for me it created way more anxiety than it was worth. Try lowering your mask a little when you can.
Mindfulness and grounding techniques. I have found that trying mindfulness and grounding techniques during the times when my anxiety feels heightened is a great way to lower the anxiety. There are a million different mindfulness techniques. Try a few different ones out until you land on one (or more) that work for you. For me these tend to be the best things to do when I’m in the moment of anxiety to soothe myself.
Don’t do it alone. There is never a need to do things alone. Confide in your friends. Seek support from your loved ones. Join a support group for ADHD folks. Engage in therapy. Hire a coach (like me!). Reach out when you are feeling anxious. Talk to other people with ADHD and ask for their advice and tips. Trying to manage on your own can be lonely, exhausting, and can create another slew of mental health issues. Reach out for support.
I hope that these tips help you out. I love to learn more options, so please feel free to send me an email at Kat@AllBelong.com and tell me your favorite trick!
If you would like to discuss with me how we could partner together to manage your ADHD and anxiety, please email me or book a free discovery session below. I hope you have a wonderful day!
Don’t Delay Joy