ADHD overwhelm: What it is and how to manage

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I’ve been quiet of late and it’s been almost 3 months since I was able to write a blog. I am completely overwhelmed at the moment with everything and struggling to do more than the bare minimum.

A new job, Sam’s move to secondary school, F going off to Army College and being part of the S.E.N.D. Reform England Leeds team are taking all my energy. I am definitely out of my comfort zone, but pushing myself in ways I never thought possible. Luckily, now I know my overwhelm is down to my ADHD and differences in my brain function, I can go easy on myself. I can explain to family and friends where I’m at and just generally take it easy till this period of overwhelm passes.

ADHD Overwhelm

ADHD overwhelm comes from issues with emotional regulation, sensitivity and imposter syndrome. This means that an ADHD brain doesn’t feel something just a bit, but instead feels flooded and this can create a state of emotional overwhelm. Life can feel very intense for someone with ADHD; your mind can quickly become full of too many thoughts and ideas. The effect of this overstimulation on ADHD can make someone feel incredibly overwhelmed. This is exactly where I am at right now.

There are lots of different situations that can lead to overwhelm for someone with ADHD, specifically:

  • Juggling workload
  • Household management
  • Being in a stimulating environment
  • Feeling tired or hungry
  • Organising events
  • Unexpected events
  • Checking email inbox
  • Changes in routine
  • Paying bills
  • Shopping

Overwhelm Symptoms

When someone with ADHD is overwhelmed, they may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Feeling anxious, stressed or helpless
  • Feeling irritable or frustrated
  • Shutting down or withdrawing
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Procrastinating or avoiding tasks

How to manage your ADHD overwhelm

If you experience ADHD overwhelm, there are a number of things you can do to manage it.

Here are some tips:
  • Identify your triggers. Once you know what triggers your overwhelm, you can develop strategies for avoiding them or coping with them when they occur.
  • Break down large tasks into smaller steps. This will make them seem less daunting and more manageable.
  • Set realistic deadlines for yourself. Don’t try to do too much at once, or you’ll just feel overwhelmed.
  • Take breaks. Get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to avoid getting too bogged down in your work.
  • Create a calming environment. Find a place where you can work or relax without distractions.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others or ask for help from a friend, family member, or therapist.
More useful tips…
  • Create a to-do list and prioritize your tasks. This will help you to stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all of the things you have to do.
  • Use a timer to stay on track. This can be especially helpful if you tend to get distracted easily.
  • Take advantage of your strengths. For example, if you’re good at brainstorming, use that to your advantage when you’re working on a project.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important to learn from them and move on.
  • Be patient with yourself. Managing ADHD overwhelm takes time and practice. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.

The main thing that helps me is to be honest and open with myself and others. I recognise the symptoms now and know to take it a little easier. Moreover, I am happy to tell friends and family that I need to take a step back and that I may be a little quiet for a while.

However, if it feels unmanageable and you are struggling to manage ADHD overwhelm on your own, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you coping skills and strategies for managing your symptoms.

Fay x

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ADHD Foundation

ADHD adult UK

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