Ways to Manage ADHD Without Medication
If you have ADHD, you know life can be an adventure. The journey from getting the diagnosis to trying to manage it every day is unique to each person. Prescription medication is a common part of a treatment plan, but it's not the only answer to your condition.
"There are several alternative methods that dramatically help people thrive with ADHD, whether they were diagnosed as a child or are managing their condition as an adult" says Robin Livingston-Richter, a licensed psychotherapist for more than 25 years and an ADHD Life Coach.
Livingston-Richter knows the struggle people with ADHD face, as she was diagnosed as an adult at age 34. She also has two children and a husband with ADHD, so she understands the concerns of parents and partners, too.
"Some people prefer to avoid medication altogether, while others want alternatives that can be useful in addition to prescriptions," Livingston-Richter says. "No matter your personal beliefs, I recommend considering these all-natural ways to help manage ADHD."
Exercise releases endorphins, the "feeling good" chemicals needed to regulate mood and pleasure. Endorphins also increase attention and focus, which benefits the ADHD brain. What's more, exercise impacts the executive functioning system which can decrease impulsivity.
How can someone with ADHD develop an exercise plan and stay committed to it? Try taking a 20-minute walk after work or school. Sign up for an exercise class, or a team activity that you are passionate about. Any muscle movement counts, but consistency is key.
Nature has a restorative effect on busy brains, so spend time outdoors. Set up a quiet space where you and/or your family member with ADHD can be alone. The fresh air, green surroundings and sunshine can make a big impact. If you live in a climate where, during parts of the year, sunshine and/or the ability to go outside is limited, consider purchasing a therapy light that mimics natural daylight to impact mood and energy levels.
When outside or with your therapy light, try this: Sit, pause, take a deep breath, and slowly release it. Continue this while going through each of the five senses – taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch – noticing how you experience each sense. This instantly calms the body and mind while helping you focus.
Music can provide a dopamine boost that the busy ADHD brain craves. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that helps with focus, so turn up those tunes and take in the rhythm.
While cooking dinner, turn on some music. Put together an upbeat playlist of your favorite songs and play them while you get ready for work or school. In the evening, play some instrumental music to calm your brain and create inner-peace.
People with ADHD often experience high levels of self-doubt and a negative inner-dialogue. To help you better believe in yourself, shift your perspective by implementing an "attitude of gratitude."
For example, start your day by talking about what you "get to do" instead of what you "have to do." This changes the conversation positively. Before heading out the door, pause, then think about or even write down three things you are grateful for. When problems arise, instead of thinking, "Why is this happening to me?" think, "What can I learn from this?"
A healthy diet of whole foods packed with nutrients is beneficial for people with ADHD because what you eat can impact how your mind functions. Sugars, additives and colorings, for example, can trigger hyperactivity, mind-racing thoughts, and agitation.
To encourage wholesome eating, stock your kitchen with foods that are low in artificial sugars and colors. If you have a sweet tooth, fresh fruit is a wonderful way to satisfy cravings while getting a natural sugar boost. Plus, those red berries, purple grapes, and green apples have zero artificial colors.
Mindfulness helps improve self-control, impulsivity and attention. Plus, it's something that can be done anywhere at any time, making it accessible to anyone. Mindfulness is all about "paying attention with intention – in the moment."
Practice mindfulness by pausing and increasing awareness in the present moment. Pay attention by calming the mind's thoughts and focusing on breathing slowly in and out. Notice how your body and mind feels, without judgment.
An ADHD Life Coach provides the necessary support to make a positive difference in ADHD management. By improving understanding of how your ADHD mind works and providing effective strategies and tactics, an ADHD Life Coach will set you up for success, and help you shift your mindset from "what is wrong with me?" to "what is right about me?"