These two practices allow you to explore how you respond to anxious thoughts and other ADHD symptoms, cultivating openness and kindness instead of self-criticism.
Navigating ADHD and anxiety can feel overwhelming at times. However, even your most restless or anxious thoughts don’t have to be a barrier to mindfulness. Instead, you can use the challenges you face as opportunities to practice self-acceptance along with self-compassion. Breathe deep, create some space around your worries or self-judgments, and explore the two practices below to nurture your well-being and your neurodiverse brain.
You can use the challenges you face as opportunities to practice self-acceptance along with self-compassion.
Notice Your Need to Fidget
Stimming, short for self-stimulation, is a common behavior for most folks but a more frequent habit for people with ADHD. This might look like chronic hair twisting, finger drumming, or knee bouncing, among other things. For most, it happens in a state of hyperfocus or boredom. Some people stim to manage anxiety or sensory overwhelm. There’s nothing wrong with the need to stim, but bringing mindfulness to the habit can be a stress management exercise that also helps you understand why you stim, and if there’s something else going on that needs addressing.
A Mindfulness Practice for Working with ADHD and Anxiety
Try this 10-minute practice to explore any anxiety you may be feeling and how you tend to react to it.
- Take a few deep breaths and think about any chronic habits you have.
- With your eyes closed, in a comfortable position, start the habitual behavior while moving through breath cycles.
- Note any sensations that arise physically, mentally, or emotionally. Feelings that arise might be pleasurable or uncomfortable. Try not to judge either way.
- Take a few more breaths, then open your eyes.
- During your day, try to note when you stim. What was happening just before you began? Who were you with?
- How does the stim make you feel in your body and mind?
- Breathe through the feeling, positive or negative.
- The goal is not to stop stimming or to judge the behavior, but simply to bring mindfulness to it to allow you to set intentionality.
What’s Your Name?
Narrative psychotherapy uses something called “externalizing” to remind us we’re not the problem—the problem is the problem. This is done by naming the problem and talking to and about the problem as if it were something external from you. Along with deep, mindful breathing, this practice can help you to regulate your emotions when you feel that big emotions and struggles with executive functioning seem to define who you are.
A Mindfulness Practice to Help Regulate Emotions
You can take about 10 minutes for this practice.
- Sit with your back straight, eyes closed, and hands folded in your lap.
- Inhale, and as you exhale, relax into your body. Notice only your breath. Repeat this three times.
- As you settle into meditation, focus on a negative feeling that has been weighing you down, such as anxiety or impulsivity.
- Identify this feeling and acknowledge its presence. For instance, you could say, “Anxiety is here right now.”
- Take three deep breaths to breathe into this acknowledgment. Visualize this named struggle as a form, like a dragon, cloud, or other thing. How does this problem get in your way?
- Take three more deep breaths. This time, as you inhale, imagine stepping away from the “thing.” As you exhale, tell the form, “You are not me.”
- Notice any feelings that arise as you separate from this problem.
- Continue breathing mindfully until you’re ready to open your eyes.