You don't need to fully understand the complicated neuroscience behind the disorder to see the strong mind/body connection. ADHD creates differences in the brain, which then lead to people with the disorder displaying a range of different types of symptoms. And while medications can help address the effects on the brain, people with ADHD can also pursue other mind/body approaches in order to address symptoms more effectively.
In this guide, we'll dive deeper into a few mind/body strategies which may help you find a healthy balance when trying to manage your ADHD.
Meditation can be one of the most impactful ways to help with ADHD symptoms. When you feel like your ADHD symptoms are causing you to be overwhelmed with your thoughts or you are constantly distracted, meditation is one mind/body approach which can help you get to a place of feeling calmer and more centered.
Meditation has been studied extensively, including how it affects people with ADHD. In various studies and trials, meditation has been found to assist with emotional regulation, focus, and other common challenges for people who are dealing with the disorder.
Many experts recommend starting with short periods of meditation, like five minutes at a time. For those who are struggling with inattention and hyperactivity, these shorter sessions can help establish a foundation for a meditation practice without getting discouraged if you're unable to stick with it. Eventually, you can work your way up to longer meditation sessions of 15 minutes or more.
Keep in mind that the purpose of meditation isn't to completely empty your mind of all thoughts. Instead, it's to bring yourself to a calmer state of mind in which you focus on the present moment and your breathing while letting your thoughts and feelings pass by without becoming distracted by them.
This will likely be difficult at first, but the more you practice, the more you can benefit from the mind/body connection established through meditation. People with ADHD often find that regular meditation helps to relieve their symptoms on an ongoing basis — not just when they're actively meditating.
Meditation is all about stillness, but there are mind/body benefits which can be achieved through movement as well. One of the most popular options to establish a healthy mind/body connection with ADHD is yoga.
Studies have found that practicing yoga regularly, even just twice a week, can help with the management of ADHD symptoms. Because yoga also taps into the same goal of mindfulness that is associated with meditation, it can work similarly to improve attention and establish a calmer frame of mind. Some studies suggest that this may be due to the fact that yoga can help strengthen the prefrontal cortex, which manages executive function, and the amygdala, which processes emotions.
One of the great things about yoga is that it's an activity that you can do with no equipment or investment. There are many free online tutorials available on sites like YouTube which can walk you through basic and advanced routines. It's best to start with an instructional class or video for beginners if you're new to yoga.
It's also important to remember that even if you aren't able to successfully achieve every yoga position that's suggested to you right away, you can still benefit from the mindfulness aspect of this activity. Focusing on your breathing and your body position can help you to feel centered and in the moment. It can quiet the mind, lower stress levels, and make ADHD symptoms easier to manage.
While meditation and yoga are both practiced widely by those with and without ADHD, one mind/body approach that you may not have heard about before is biofeedback. Sometimes known as neurofeedback, this is a type of alternative therapy which can potentially help with ADHD symptoms.
Biofeedback is a safe, non-invasive process that involves the use of a device to read brain wave activity. The individual being monitored completes assigned tasks so that the brain waves can be analyzed in response to certain stimuli. Essentially, it's considered to be a way of training the brain to focus for longer periods of time.
Many researchers have found that biofeedback can be beneficial in improving ADHD symptoms. This is one unique option for using a mind/body approach to help combat your struggles with the disorder.
Coming up with a holistic treatment plan for ADHD isn't something you have to do on your own. At Done, our licensed clinicians can help you establish healthy and safe practices for managing your ADHD. In addition to prescribing ADHD medication through an affordable and convenient telehealth platform, they can also advise you on how to incorporate these types of non-pharmaceutical treatments into your daily life. Take our one-minute online assessment to get started.