Women with ADHD often experience a variety of symptoms that can impact their daily routine, such as forgetfulness, disorganization, and distractibility. While there are many ways to manage these symptoms, some common everyday activities can actually make things worse. In this blog post, we’ll explore six activities and choices that can exacerbate your ADHD symptoms, as well as some alternative options that are more ADHD-friendly.
Recognizing these ADHD triggers and making alternative choices can help women improve focus & concentration, productivity, and happiness throughout the day.
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Skipping breakfast might save you a few minutes in the morning, but it can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, causing irritability, impulsivity, and difficulty concentrating (1). This is true even for those who don’t normally experience ADHD symptoms!
A balanced breakfast can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and provide your brain with the energy it needs to start the day. An ADHD brain typically needs a steady, stable source of fuel to perform its best.
- ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Opt for a protein-rich meal such as eggs or Greek yogurt, and pair it with a low-sugar granola or fruit.
Women are often praised for their ability to multitask, but when you have ADHD, it can actually be counterproductive (2). Trying to juggle too many tasks at once can make it difficult to focus on any one thing. This can lead to forgetfulness, errors, and burnout.
- ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Use techniques like time blocking or the Pomodoro method that involves splitting work tasks into 25-minute intervals, known as pomodoros (3). Breaks are scheduled in between each interval to allow for better concentration and improved task completion.
As a woman with ADHD, you might feel the urge to say ‘yes’ to everything, and fit as much as possible into your calendar in order to prove yourself. Overcommitting isn’t uncommon among those with ADHD. However, taking on too much increases stress levels, feelings of overwhelm, and ultimately worsens cognitive performance and mental health.
Not to mention that under all this pressure, your body pumps out more of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can have many detrimental effects over time.
ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Learn to say no when necessary, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Prioritizing your time and energy can help you stay focused on your goals and manage your ADHD symptoms more effectively.
Too Much Screen Time
In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get glued to our screens for hours on end. And often it’s unavoidable due to work or other online obligations. But prolonged screen time, whether from endless scrolling through social media or binge-watching TV shows, can overstimulate the brain and impair focus. In fact, excessive screen time is known to trigger ADHD symptoms, and also negatively impacts emotional regulation (4).
- ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Limit screen time, schedule designated breaks, and use apps or tools designed for time management. Mindful use of technology can enhance rather than disrupt focus.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is essential for overall mental health and wellbeing, but it can be especially important for women with ADHD. Not getting enough sleep can trigger symptoms related to executive dysfunction such as impulse control and distractibility, making it even harder to stay focused during the day. Adequate sleep is paramount to managing ADHD triggers throughout the day.
Studies suggest that up to 75% of women with ADHD are more likely to experience delayed sleep phase disorder (5). This means instead of naturally craving sleep during the hours from 11 pm to 7 am, someone with ADHD may feel the natural urge to sleep from about 2 am to 10 am.
- ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Sleep problems are common with ADHD and make it much harder to stick with healthy habits. Try to establish a regular sleep routine to help enhance your quality of sleep. This could include winding down with a bath or book before bed, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, a magnesium supplement, and limiting screen time before bed.
Clutter & Disorganization
A cluttered and disorganized environment can be overwhelming for someone with ADHD. It makes it harder to locate items, stay on task, and maintain a sense of order.
- ADHD-Friendly Alternative: Regularly declutter and organize your space. Use calendars, to-do lists, or apps to keep track of tasks and deadlines. A tidy environment can promote focus and reduce distractions.
Empowering ADHD-Friendly Choices
ADHD can present challenges, but with awareness and strategic choices, it is possible to mitigate the impact of these challenges. By recognizing everyday activities that may worsen ADHD symptoms and embracing ADHD-friendly alternatives, women with ADHD can enhance their ability to focus, manage their time effectively, and navigate daily life with greater ease. Remember that every individual’s experience with ADHD is unique, and finding what works best for you is key to living a fulfilling and productive life.
Living with ADHD can be challenging, but making small changes to your daily routine can help improve your symptoms and enhance your overall quality of life. By avoiding skipping breakfast, multitasking, overcommitting, excessive screen time, and lack of sleep, women with ADHD can more effectively manage their symptoms and stay focused on their goals. Remember that it takes time, patience, and effort to create lasting change, so be kind to yourself and celebrate even the smallest successes.