Emotions & Shame

When Counting to 10 Doesn’t Work

When our emotions get away from us, it’s critical that we have strategies in place to reel them back in before we explode. Readers share how they put the brakes on strong ADHD emotions like anger or shame.

A person sitting near a body of water to learn how to control emotions
Sitting near water pink jacket

I make sure I stay on top of my self-care: eating right, taking my vitamins, exercising, getting enough sleep. It usually takes the angry, jittery edge off of my emotions.
-Sharon S., Pennsylvania

I am a different person when I eat right and exercise regularly. My emotional threshold is much higher.
-An ADDitude Reader

I remove myself from the situation and return when I know my ADHD brain and mouth will not make the situation worse.
-Amara T., Indiana

When the family is angry with each other, I ask everyone to take a 10-minute break in separate rooms or outside. We resume talking about things in a calmer manner. If we can’t, we take another break.
-An ADDitude Reader

I think the golden rule works when trying to tamp down strong emotions: Ask yourself how you would want to be treated. I don’t always remember this in the heat of the moment, but I am learning to ask myself that question more.
-An ADDitude Reader

[Free Handout: Get a Grip on Tough Emotions]

Working with a psychologist, individually and as a family, has helped us manage strong emotions. We remember to breathe when we get upset. My therapist also taught me that I can recognize someone else’s emotion and choose to not let it affect me.
-An ADDitude Reader

When I get angry at my kids, I go to my bedroom for a while or take the dog for a walk. Exercise helps, too. Not spouting off has saved my friendships. Two other tips: get enough sleep and avoid alcohol.
-An ADDitude Reader

I verbalize a lot. My mother, two sisters, best friend, and boyfriend often listen to me rant about the thing that’s frustrating me. Then I turn to household pets. I also pace alone in a room or yell when I’m alone in the car. This burns off a lot of extra angry energy.
-An ADDitude Reader

Counting to 10 hasn’t worked for me in 34 years. Deep breaths can help, but cognitive behavioral therapy has helped the most, by making me aware of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When I am aware of them, I can change them.
-Jess, Los Angeles, California

[Free Webinar: How ADHD Shapes Your Perceptions, Emotions & Motivation]

I try not to exacerbate an angry situation with knee-jerk reactions.
-An ADDitude Reader

When my husband gets angry for no reason, I wait for him to finish expressing himself and calmly ask him to tell me why he is so angry. After he tells me, we discuss how the same thing can be said without raised voices and angry tones.
-An ADDitude Reader

I stop, take a breath, and find out where the emotions are coming from.
-An ADDitude Reader

When I get mad, I blow up for a second, calm down even faster, and apologize for my outburst.
-An ADDitude Reader

I am learning to pray and ask for patience. It really helps.
-Michelle, Florida

Changing your scenery — a walk outside, a shower, going to another room — can act as a reset button.
-An ADDitude Reader

When I blow up, I leave the situation behind quickly, spend several minutes doing a breathing exercise, and replay the situation. I take responsibility for my part.
-An ADDitude Reader

Taking care of myself helps me control my anger.
-An ADDitude Reader

I write down what triggers my anger and take steps to address those issues. It also helps to let go of perfectionist habits and to love myself the way I am.
-Wendy, Minnesota

[Free Download: Rein In Intense ADHD Emotions]