ADHD and Anxiety
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Adults with both ADHD and anxiety are not hard to find. Half of the adult ADHD population actually deals with anxiety. If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, you’re going to find that these habits can really help you kick both. In my experience, a lot of this is the chicken and the egg. Sometimes you don’t really know is it generalized anxiety disorder or is it your ADHD causing anxiety in your life. According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders occur in as many as 50% of ADHD adults. Not only can these conditions coexist, but there are challenges that ADHD poses that just worsen anxiety by its very nature.
If you think you may be struggling from more anxiety than is healthy, I highly recommend discussing this with your therapist. If you’re short on time or struggling to find a local provider, online therapy services such as BetterHelp may help you find relief sooner. In the meantime, here are some things that have gotten me through some anxious times.
It’s really stressful, you know. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has this to say: If ADHD is the cause of anxiety, treating the ADHD may reduce the anxiety. If anxiety is independent of ADHD however, a doctor will determine the proper medication. One health professional may decide to treat anxiety first, the other may treat both conditions simultaneously. As you can see, there’s a lot of ways to go about this.
Journaling has this amazing way of just letting your brain dump and get all your crap out and move on with your life with a little more clarity and focus. I used to do something called 750words.com. I’m actually going there right now to see if it’s still. Yeah, it’s still there. This is one thing you could do and it’s super cool. 750words.com and it’s completely confidential, hard to get into, and you just go in there and you do your brain dump and there’s all these …
You can set goals or you can just make it a habit to do every morning and there’s some things in there that will help encourage you and motivate you to do this. I used to do it to kind of like, it was like self-therapy. If I was in between therapy appointments and I had something really getting to me, I would just do the 750 word brain dump. It was kind of an as needed thing. I didn’t do it every day, but I found it super helpful. Then the other thing I did for a while was the SELF Journal, which is also really awesome. I’ll include a link in the show notes. The SELF Journal really makes you break things down. It organizes your life in quarters and so you’re thinking on a quarterly basis and then it breaks it down and it really helps you figure out one day at a time what you need to do to achieve the bigger picture. This is really great with alleviating anxiety because anxiety is essentially worrying about the future.
By writing all this stuff down, you can get some peace back in your life. I’m trying something right now called Morning Pages and full disclosure, I haven’t even looked into what Morning Pages really are supposed to be, but Amy Landino talks about them, but she got the idea from someone else and I don’t even know what it really is. I gather like you’re writing three pages in the morning and it’s a brain dump and that’s all I know. I’m sure there’s like a whole thing with it but I started this morning doing that and it was amazing. It was like, I just dumped all this crap on my brain before my day even started so that I could just move on with my day with purpose and clarity. Journaling, there’s a lot of great ways to do it. I know people with insomnia, it helps them get to sleep if they could just write all this stuff out and get it out of their system. The other thing is physical activity and that’s one of those things.
Obvious Stuff Like Walking
I made a joke on one of my previous episodes, when you go to Additude Magazine, they have all these great practical tips and advice. I don’t know about you, but I always think I’m the special snowflake and that probably helps those people. That’s not going to help me, you know, whatever. I always used to be that way about physical activity. I think I knew on some level like it’s good for anxiety, but I just never really wanted to admit it probably because I didn’t want to do it. Long story short, you do this stuff and it’s like taking a pill like immediately you feel better, you’re more centered. The endorphins are released. I’m not going to lie, you’re going to get sweaty and it might start out unpleasant, but it just feels really good. I live in Texas and I had gotten into a great walking routine which goes so well with podcasts and audiobooks by the way. I could even go longer when I have something good to listen to.
Long story short, I had this really great thing going where I was walking outside with my podcast and it felt so good. Then it got super, super hot because I live in Texas, but the summer is winding down to a close, allegedly. We still had like 100 degree temps last week and it’s September, but, I’m hoping it’ll get to be where it’s tolerable where in the morning I can get out and just take a 15 minute walk every day. Seriously, keep it simple. The Mayo Clinic, they recommend adults receive at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day. If you need to start out with just a 10 or 15 minute daily walk, start that and then build it up and then we all know about the 10,000 case step role, which I’ve never been able to reach 10k, but 5k super respectable. You know how I know that? My insurance company gives me rewards points on days that I hit 5k. Hey, if 10k sounds too much for you, start with 5k. Move it up from there. You know about all the wearable technology.
I was a huge, huge Fitbit person for a few years, but I recently just don’t like having it on my wrist. I get this weird thing where it makes me feel like I’m being trapped or something. It’s a mixture of big brother and feeling like I’m under house arrest. I just didn’t like it anymore so I stopped wearing it. I’m still going to have my own personal rule. Starting next week where I’m just going to take like a 15 minute morning walk every work day. All bets are off on the weekend. It’s family and toddler time and husband time. I do get in my exercise with my toddler so I’m not worried about it, but just like a morning walk. I mean, just keep it simple, stupid. I’m not calling you stupid, but the whole keep it simple, stupid kind of phrase has saved me a million times. With physical activity, that’s just something I have to do. All right. The other thing, to help your anxiety as cognitive behavioral therapy and shout out to my therapist.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
I started seeing her more than a decade ago, I want to say about a decade ago. In the state in which she found me, we were seeing each other on a weekly basis. I was like white-knuckling it week to week. Then we got to a point where it was like maintenance mode. We kind of phased it out. It started out weekly, then every other week, then once a month. I think by the time we got to once a month over the year, eventually I reached a point where it’s like, you know, I think I got this. She’s always on call if I need to set up an appointment with her. In fact, I think I saw her about two or three weeks ago. I see her occasionally, especially when you reach a major life milestones like pregnancy or illness in the family. When you hit those really big things, it’s so awesome to have a cognitive behavioral therapist on hand where you can book an appointment and just say, “Hey, you know, let’s talk this out.” It can really help you. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has this to say about CBT. I’m going to just call it CBT so I don’t have to keep saying cognitive behavioral therapy.
The core principles of CBT or identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them. Oftentimes, someone being treated for CBT will have homework in between sessions where they practice replacing negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts based on prior experiences or record their negative thoughts in a journal. We talked about the journal thing earlier. It’s all full circle.
Meditation, this is my favorite and I sit on an earlier episode. Liv Tyler meditates to help with her ADHD. Meditation also helps with anxiety. Oh my God. If you haven’t tried Headspace, try it immediately. I live and die by Headspace. I’ve want to start doing this next week every morning. We’ll see how that goes. Ideally, I would love to do it. Do look again, a quickie like every weekday morning and every weekday night and then as needed. Right now I’m just using it as needed. If I can’t get in the right frame of mind to focus on my work, I’ll go away for a few minutes and do it or if I’m just really rattled by a bunch of stuff, I’ll go away and do it.
That’s the ideal situation. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when I do do it, it’s so amazing. There’s other things you can do. I’m really into essential oils and I use eucalyptus oil a lot and there’s hypnotherapy. I have this phenomenal hypnotherapist, her name is Kim Keelan and she’s actually also a life coach and she actually is a cohost of my support group, which I’m going to be mentioning in a little bit. She really is great at anxiety issues and solving anxiety issues with hypnotherapy. I did do a lot of that and that really helped a lot with my anxiety. I had a phase where I was using a Himalayan salt lamp and I think it was just helping me get in the right frame of mind at night. I did this when I was pregnant and it helped me go to sleep. I still have it. I haven’t plugged it in in a while. Maybe I’ll start again. I mean, it was really nice having that warm glow in the room and there’s the science behind it.
I’m going to open this article, oh it’s not an article. Kim will tell you all about it. I’m going to ask her about it in the support group, but there’s a lot of medical benefits from having this in your living space. Then Additude Magazine, I’m always giving them a shout out. They have a lot of great meditation tips as well. There’s this Additude article written by a couple of ADHD coaches, Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo. What they say about this is the big secret which nobody seems to clue ADD years on, is that you don’t have to sit in a lotus position at all. They’re talking about meditating. Sorry, I changed the subject and didn’t tell you. Regarding meditating, “The big secret, which nobody seems to clue ADD years on, is that you don’t have to sit in the lotus position at all. You don’t even have to sit down to meditate or stop moving. You don’t have to stop moving to meditate.”
“You don’t need a mantra, a guru or notes from your trip to India to do the meditation thing correctly,” these coaches say. It’s so true. I’ll be at my desk. I remember one time when I still worked in an office, I was meditating at my desk using Headspace. I was just trying to sneak in a quick five minute session. It was at lunch and most of the people had cleared out, but one of my coworkers walked in and he didn’t bother me, but he was watching me like, “Are you okay?” I opened my eyes and he’s in there and he’s like, “I don’t know what’s going on. Is everything alright?” I was like, “Yeah, I’m just meditating. It’s how I deal with my anxiety,” and that’s the truth.
The last thing is herbal supplements and I’m not too knowledgeable on these. Kim definitely is in our support group. She could tell you all about this stuff, but in my history of the herbal … The herbal stuff that helped me the most was Sleepytime Tea, which contains chamomile and they actually have a medical grade, not medical grade.
It’s not prescription, but they have this wellness version which I think is like a jacked up version of Sleepytime and it has Valerian root and chamomile. That is super awesome stuff. I dabbled a little bit in supplements, it didn’t really stick, but I mean, I’m sure there’s benefits to those things. According to The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, this is a completely medically sound practice that should be occurring under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor. I’m sure this stuff works really well. I just haven’t used it personally. If you’re interested in that, I can hook you up with someone who knows a lot more about that. So with that said, if you do want to talk with other women with ADHD, feel free to join our support group. You can find it by going to adultingwithadhd.com. In the top navigation there’s a support group button you just push. Kim’s in there. She specializes in anxiety. That’s actually like her big thing is anxiety.
She’s a certified hypnotherapist and a life coach. She knows all about naturopathic stuff. I don’t even know if I’m saying that right, holistic medicine. She knows a lot about that kind of stuff. That’s one way to connect with me and other ADHD women. Another thing you can do is find me on Twitter or Instagram, handle adhdadulting, or on Facebook, handle Adulting with ADHD. As always, if you have any questions about ADHD, anxiety or anything related, feel free to email me at contact at adultingwithadhd dot com. Until next week, happy adulting.