ADHD and Vulnerability: How to Reboot Under Stress

As the world’s shifted over the past month, it’s logical to tell ourselves to crank it up and knock off the projects looming on our to-do list. Even if we’re giving up commuting time for time at home, we put an enormous amount of stress on ourselves and our kids to be and stay productive, especially during this chaotic time.

Vulnerability, Stress and ADHD Sad Young Man

When our brains sense danger or stress, we want to protect ourselves. Under stressful conditions, the ADHD control center or executive functions are prone to powering down to survival mode. This makes the ability to think and problem-solve more difficult and less effective. 

As a result, there's a tendency to have an intensified vulnerability to perceived failure. To protect themselves from shame, individuals with ADHD can be on guard for tasks that provoke them to feel foolish or look bad. By steering clear of these tasks, they shield themselves from the risk of being exposed and vulnerable to humiliation.  

Here are three ways to reboot the ADHD brain with resilience.  

Make it Fun 

We know all too well that humor can make it easier to cope with difficult situations and help us improve our mood. This is even more true for people with ADHD, where a fun game or creative activity can fire up momentum. 

Quick Tips: Women's Legs walking

• What small step can you put into place today to add some fun into your or your family’s day or week?

• Prioritize and block time for your "me-time," such as time for a walk or to read your favorite book. What are you noticing?

• Make a game out of the task or activity. The task itself doesn’t have to be fun, but the idea of a game can be; for example, “Beat the Clock” can spark activation for an otherwise not-so-fun task.  

Focus on Process Over Results 

For individuals with ADHD, there’s an idea that they have to do everything in sight and they have to do everything well. This brings on enormous pressure to succeed, with avoidance of tasks and activities that tend to be associated with humiliation or perceived failure. 

Quick Tips: Father and Son High Fiving

• Approach the task as an experiment. This takes away the pressure of needing to succeed and sends a message to the brain that you’re stepping back and investigating what works best for you or your child.

• Rate the difficulty of the task beforehand and assess the task afterwards. For example, if the task is related to your child, you can have your child rate the task in terms of difficulty, perceived ability to do the task, and your child’s willingness to do the task. Then have your child assess the task afterward to compare initial predictions.  

• Give yourself or your child credit for effort rather than end result. Use individual interests for rewards

Connect Man talking with Woman on IPad

Connecting with and supporting others helps us get through tough times. For folks with ADHD, connection activates motivation and inspires resilience.  

Quick Tips:

• Engage with an accountability partner who can help you build structure for initiating and following through with tasks.

• Connect with meaningful groups in your community (which are also available virtually these days).

• Consider volunteering in some way which can give you the drive to press on. This can be grocery shopping for someone, giving to a charity or sending someone much needed items.

 To sum up, when the brain senses danger or stress, dialing down to survival mode is the brain’s way of protecting itself.  

To reboot the ADHD brain with resilience:

• Make it Fun

• Focus on Process Over Results

• Connect

Experiment with some of these and let me know how it goes for you!




 PS. Need some assistance overcoming stress and vulnerability living with ADHD so you have more calm and confidence? 

Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment and we can talk about some solutions you can put into place now!


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