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When ADHD Symptoms Are Out of Control: A Cure

An ADHD coach explains how exercises can improve symptoms and boost motivation.

It was dark and rainy outside. I was cranky. Almost 10 a.m. and I hadn’t gotten anything done yet. The CD I play to help me focus better (Bach’s “Lute Suites”) was on its second time through but wasn’t helping any. I was starting to feel guilty for being so unproductive. It was shaping up to be an ADHD kind of day.

Exercise would help, but I didn’t feel like it. What do you do when you know what you should do, but you just don’t wanna? It’s sooooo hard to get started.

I went over to the spot where I usually stretch and apathetically did a half sun salutation, my favorite yoga movement. I stopped and looked out the window. Still raining. Then I looked back at my computer, thinking about all the things that had to be done.

The phone rang. It was a client, checking in. She says she’s accomplished most of what she committed to and feels on track. Then she commented offhandedly, “I went for a walk yesterday. I think that’s a big part of why I did so well.” I expressed full agreement, being a huge proponent of exercise, nutrition and sleep to manage ADHD symptoms.

She went on to say, “It’s always hard for me to exercise. I feel like I’m wasting time. There are so many things I should be doing instead.”

[Free Download: Make Mindfulness Work for You]

I asked her about her productivity before and after the walk. “Oh, I got a lot more done after the walk. It totally rejuvenated me.”

“Mmm hmm,” I replied. “I’m not surprised. Exercise is like that. It’s like medicine. It helps you focus and stay on task.” I went on to help her reframe it as an investment.

As I made the connection between exercise and productivity for my client, I immediately felt more motivated myself. Sometimes the best way to get motivated is to resonate with how great you will feel when it’s done. Don’t just think “I should” — actually recall the clearheadedness, the limberness, the energy.

Although I still wasn’t completely ready to exercise (did I mention it was dark and rainy out?), I was ready to take the next step. I pulled out the yoga mat. This is one of my favorite anti-procrastination strategies: literally, physically touch the thing you are avoiding.

[Build Your Muscles, Build Your Brain]

I was in the right state of mind, the mat was out, and I got moving. And sure enough, I was soon feeling better. By 10:30 I was thinking, this is shaping up to be quite a productive day.

Has yoga or another form of exercise helped you overcome your worst ADHD symptom days? Share your ADHD home cures in a comment below.

[Exercise for ADHD]