When you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, transitions can be a big challenge.
For example, it could be the shift from work mode to home and family mode.
Even bigger ones are seasonal, like when students and parents start school again after the laid-back summer days. These giant changes can throw us off balance and wreak havoc on our lives.
Our ADHD brains need time to adapt. Significant changes in our lives can leave us feeling fatigued or scattered. Summer was about leisure and fun, but now we're shifting gears. We're waking up early, juggling new responsibilities, and dealing with unfamiliar routines.
It’s like we have to leave behind the details of what we were doing, reconfigure how we thought our lives worked, and wrap our heads around what comes next!
Why are Transitions Such a Challenge for Individuals With ADHD?
• It's an executive function.
Executive functions are skills that those with ADHD struggle with. Transitioning requires much energy and effort to disengage from one activity and move attention to the next. Moving into the fall, we need to pay attention to many new things – it's exhausting.
• We can be pretty hard on ourselves.
We believe we should excel at everything and place a laundry list of expectations on ourselves. When we are beating ourselves up for not doing enough, we cannot problem-solve.
• Self-regulation is challenging.
This executive function is a struggle for us. Not only does our physical body have to transition, but we also need to shift into the season emotionally.
• We are not always self-aware.
Our brains are moving fast and reacting. It's not in our nature to slow down to pause and self-assess. As a result, we are not always aware that we need support here, so don’t plan or prepare for transitions.
Tips for Those With ADHD Facing Transitions
Step 1: Build Awareness
Recognize when you're in a transition. Identify what affects you most and how it makes you feel. Ask yourself how long they last and how they impact your actions. Keep track of your discoveries in a transition journal.
Step 2: Acceptance
Be realistic about what you can and can't do during a transition. Offer yourself compassion instead of beating yourself up. Understand that you have ADHD, and struggling during a time of change is okay. They're temporary, and you'll regain your balance.
Step 3: Seek support
Emotional support might help manage the stress that comes with all the newness. If you're a student or a parent, working with an ADHD coach can help you create a plan of attack to help ease the transition.
Step 4: Self-care
Find the elements that help you navigate transitions with greater ease and peace; this will vary for each of us. Maybe it's making exercise a priority in your schedule, time for being social, or starting your day with things you enjoy.
Step 5: Pause and Plan
An easy hack called the “Pause and Plan” (adapted from Alan P. Brown’s 4-video series, The Productivity Accelerator: Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Time, Energy, and Sanity) enables our brains to start the day by thinking clearly and calmly. It's when you keep a post-it note that says “Pause and Plan" where you can see it in the morning. Then, decide on one impactful thing to focus on for the day. Zeroing in on the 1% we need to do helps us avoid fatigue and stress and use our energy for things that matter.
Step 6: Plan for Next Year
Use everything you learned about yourself as an opportunity to plan for next year. Keep a reminder on your calendar before next fall to revisit your journal. Proper planning will enable you to prepare for support and enter the season more calmly and confidently!
Remember, giving yourself self-care during significant changes starts with recognizing what you need to stay centered and in control and knowing when to reach out for support. It's okay to seek help, even in those areas you thought you should master. You're not alone in this. Transitions may be challenging, but you have the power to navigate them successfully!
You've got this!
P.S. To learn how to achieve more success with your brain wiring, click here for a FREE 30-minute coaching chat with Julie.
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