Can Meditation help ADHD?

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Whilst medication can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s not for everyone.  Some may experience dramatic improvements in their symptoms, whereas others only see a very slight change. And, as with any medication, there can be side effects including sleep problems, decreased appetite, increased blood pressure, dizziness and headaches.

Living with ADHD is long-term.  There is no cure for ADHD or a quick fix.  To live your best life, it’s about finding acceptance and ways to cope and manage your symptoms.  

This blog isn’t about replacing your medication, and you should always seek medical advice when it comes to treatment.  But there are other methods and therapies available that could work alongside medication to help you to live a better quality of life with ADHD.  One of these being meditation.

What is meditation?

Meditation can take many forms, the most accessible for beginners is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is about becoming more aware of your experience of the present moment.

Practising mindfulness is not a quick fix, but it is easy to do, and it can be incredibly powerful.

It’s been shown to help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as a whole host of other benefits including increasing attention span, improving memory and aiding sleep.

How does meditation help with ADHD?

It’s thought that meditating helps to strengthen your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that helps you to focus, plan and controls your impulsiveness.  It can also raise your levels of dopamine, which in ADHD is normally in short supply.

How do I meditate? 

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on something simple, like your breathing.  To do this, first set a timer, find yourself a comfortable position, close your eyes, and then notice the movement in your body which happens when you breathe.  Don’t try and change anything, just notice what’s already happening. No doubt thoughts will kick in at some point, and when you notice that your mind has drifted away from your breathing, just bring it back. 

Simple, right?  That’s all you need to do, and you can choose the amount of time which works for you.  

Now I can totally relate to the fact that the idea of sitting still in quietness when your brain is full of thoughts and ideas racing round at one hundred miles an hour might feel like an impossible task.  But remember, this isn’t about stopping your thoughts at all, it’s just about becoming more aware of what your mind is doing. Even the most accomplished meditators find that their mind will wander quite a lot, so don’t expect to be able to focus the whole time. 

Equally, meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down or even being in silence.  It’s about finding a method that works for you. So, here are a few suggestions to try and make meditation a more enjoyable practice:

Use music to focus

Meditation doesn’t need to be in silence.  Having some music playing quietly in the background can help to focus the mind and help you to relax.  You may even find that you can use the beat of the song for the timing of your breathing in and out. 

Acknowledge wandering thoughts

If your focus starts to drift, that’s okay.  Acknowledge to yourself that it’s happened and return to focusing on your breath.  Some people find it helpful to say to themselves “thinking” as soon as they notice, which can help stop the thought process and avoids any sense of criticising yourself.

Move if you need to

If you feel fidgety, that’s fine, go with it.  Get up and move around if you need to but continue your focus on your breathing.  Some people find that a walking meditation is easier. This involves going for a walk (or a run!), and doing the same thing – perhaps not focusing so much on breathing, but sounds, smells, sensations of your feet on the ground.  You could even look into local yoga or pilates classes where they use relaxing breathing techniques like these during movement.

Start small, and make it into a habit

Don’t think that you need to sit there for hours on end practising meditation.  Even short bursts of 5 minutes can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety levels.  Incorporate it into your daily routine and you will soon notice the impact it has on your daily life.  Maybe spend the last 5 minutes before you go to bed meditating?

Fit it into your life

I know that there have been times in my life where even setting aside 5 minutes to meditate feels too much, so in that case, I have used the things I am already doing to be mindful. 

For example, in the morning, when I have a coffee, I can take more time over the first sip.  Instead of rushing to guzzle it down whilst flying out of the door, I’ll spend 1 minute feeling the warmth of the cup, noticing the way the light hits the mug, smelling the aroma.  Then when I take my first sip, I really notice the sensation of the coffee in my mouth, where I taste it on my tongue, the sensation of swallowing it, and then maybe the taste left on my tongue afterwards. 

Whatever you are already doing you can make it mindful, and what’s great about meditation is that it’s free and can be done wherever and whenever you need it.  

If you want to get started but not sure where to start, why not join my FREE 5-day relaxation challenge where I share a number of relaxation and breathing techniques that can be used whenever you need them.  You can access the challenge here.

But if you want to take it a step further and take action today to start living your best life, why not book in for a consultation assessment with me?  I can help you to get your brain working with you, to find balance, harmony and tranquillity and start to live well with ADHD.  Click here to book your appointment now or if you have any questions, you can contact me here.