You’re not wrong. If you’re an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you probably do feel emotions more intensely than others. Managing emotions with adult ADHD can be messy. And it’s not only anger that seems unmanageable. For adults with ADHD, all emotions are fair game to take over. Fear, overwhelm, and shame might feel so big that you’re quick to react to any of them. You long for that tiny second of self-reflection. That one moment could have stopped your “oops” response. Why? ADHD takes away the pause button. But don’t worry. That pause button still exists and learning how and when to press it is a skill you can harness.
The Wiring of the ADHD Brain
The wiring of the ADHD brain makes processing emotions a struggle. The line between the emotional brain and the rational brain is crisscrossed. An adult with ADHD might get into an emotional rollercoaster daily: “I can’t find my keys” soon becomes “I’m so mad!” “This ALWAYS happens to me!!” Sound familiar? Unfortunately, forgetfulness leads to anger. Anger leads to shame…and shame leads to…more forgetfulness…and so on.
Learning to press pause takes practice. Luckily, the brain has something called neuroplasticity. This means it can change based on its experience. That means the more you try something, the more your brain learns. So, practicing improves your ability to perform a new skill over time. For example, a kid learning to brush their teeth might start throwing tantrums. Yet, adults have already made teeth brushing a habit, so there is a little struggle. The same goes with learning to press pause.
Three Tips to Finding Your Pause Button with Emotional Regulation
1. Emotional Regulation Tip 1: Schedule a pause with daily meditation.
Meditation can be a loaded term. You might have even heard about the benefits already, but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it. Expecting to find your pause without practice is like running a 5K after being in lockdown for a year. It might happen, but not without a broken or pulled something or other. Studies show meditation and mindfulness for ADHD is a natural remedy for emotional dysregulation.
Like any other habit, practicing meditation is important. The first step is finding a minute to two minutes every day to devote to it. Two minutes. It’s not about how long you do it; it’s about getting started.
Work-life balance is tough these days, but holding to this scheduled time is critical. So, find a time that works where you can be alone. Try to be free from distraction and interruption, for only a few minutes. Notice the five senses. What do you hear, see, and feel? The important part is being still and getting in touch with the world around you. Take this moment to press pause on the worries of daily life.
2. Emotional Regulation Tip 2:Walk it out.
ADHD impacts the regulation of energy. Hyperactivity triggers excessive energy that needs an outlet, like daily walks. Finding ways to expel energy will have a calming effect. Putting a daily walk into your life can brighten your mood and regulate your nervous system.
Also, “walking it out” also can mean walking away. When upset, the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) shuts down. Then, the amygdala (the emotional part of the brain) ramps up. This is why walking away is helpful. It gives the brain time to recalibrate so you regain control.
3. Emotional Regulation Tip 3: Practice deep breathing.
Research shows calming your nervous system with deep breathing can improve emotional regulation. By taking deep breaths, you send a calming signal to your entire body. Thus, resulting in reduced emotional reactivity. The key is knowing when to use deep breathing.
Get familiar with your triggers and “big emotion warning signs.” For example, if anger makes you react, does your body send a cue? Do you get overheated? Tense? What comes before the reaction. It can also help to have actual reminders to breathe in your environment. This may look like notes on your computer home screen…or a compassionate spouse.
One Small Step Daily
No need to binge on emotional regulation training. Taking one small action every day to meditate, walk, or breathe can help with emotional regulation. And remember, the more you do it, the easier it will be. So those single small steps each day will turn into big changes over time.
Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, OH
You deserve to have a caring therapist that understands the wiring of the ADHD brain. Our Columbus, OH-based counseling practice would be happy to help you find your pause button through emotional regulation. To start your therapy journey, follow these steps:
- Fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Slow busy mind. Live life to the fullest
Other Adult ADHD Services Offered with Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
If you’d like more personalized help managing emotions, a Columbus ADHD specialist can help. ADHD impacts people in different ways. So, our Columbus, OH-based therapy practice offers a variety of services including adult ADHD treatment, counseling for men with ADHD, depression counseling for ADHD, and anxiety treatment for ADHD, as well as ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbus therapists.