Stress & Anxiety

ADHD Life Rules: 15 Tips to Stress Less and Live Better

Here are some rules for families with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that will hopefully reduce stress and make your life a bit easier.

A woman with analysis paralysis staring out the window
Woman with curly hair staring out the window

We all live by rules to keep us organized and focused. Some rules help us navigate the daily challenges of life while others are restrictive, keeping us in a boring and unproductive orbit. Here are some rules for families with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that will hopefully reduce stress and make your life a bit easier.

1. Do a flip. Instead of castigating yourself over the 20 percent of things you did wrong, think about the 80 percent you did right.

2. Show the love. When your ADHD teen walks in, make sure your eyes fill with light and your words express love. Yes, he may have screwed up — a lot — but he needs your love and your discipline.

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3. Clutter, schmutter. Don’t fret over how clean your home is before having company over. Friends come to see you, not your house.

4. When you blow it … make amends. An apologetic e-mail or phone call after a missed dinner date goes a long way toward maintaining a friendship.

5. Make it a rule: Only one crazy person in the house at a time. If your ADHD partner is freaking out, you must stay cool and collected.

6. Enjoy a computer holiday. Yes, the web is stimulating — and habit forming — but spending too much time on it can add to cognitive deficits. Really. Taking a day off will recharge your batteries.

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7. Med moments. Before tackling clutter or having an important conversation with your partner, take your ADHD medication first. Enough said.

8. Find another doctor to treat ADHD if he brushes off your child’s medication side effects as unimportant or says you ask too many questions.

9. Laugh at the ADHD gremlins. Did you burn dinner or forget to pick up the car at the repair shop? Instead of beating yourself up, say to yourself (and others), “Guess my ADHD is kicking in again!”

10. Partner with your partner. Get away with your significant other for a couple of hours for dinner or a movie once a week. It will reduce stress and will make all the difference in your attitude toward your spouse or child with ADHD.

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11. Pleasure first, duty second. Before you tackle your to-do list, walk through your garden, listen to relaxing music, do yoga, or say a prayer. Starting each day with calm will help you stay on top of things.

12. Learn how and when to say “No.” Say, “I’ll get back to you on that” before volunteering for another activity or committing to something else you don’t have time for.

13. Go paperless. Sign up for automatic online bill paying at your bank — today. You won’t be late paying your credit card ever again, and you’ll reduce your flow of incoming paper a lot.

14. Look for new friends if old ones criticize you and make you feel bad, despite your best efforts at managing your symptoms.

15. Reach for your stars. Are you putting your life on hold — until your piles of clutter are gone or the laundry is folded? Don’t. Figure out what you want to achieve and move toward it.

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