Ways to cope with add
Tips for Adults with ADHD
May 11, 2021
If you’re one of the 11 million adults in the United States with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you understand how hard it can be to avoid distractions, stay organized and work efficiently. With treatment and behavioral changes, you can learn how to handle ADHD to increase productivity and fulfillment. These simple, effective strategies can help you manage symptoms to focus and thrive.
How to Deal With Adult ADHD
Inattention, impulsivity, disorganization, restlessness, overactivity, lack of focus, behavioral control difficulty and other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder typically emerge early in life — often before age 12 — and evolve as time goes on.
If you’re older than 18 and experience these symptoms, you’re not alone. ADHD is one of the most prevalent childhood disorders, which continues beyond adolescence for many adults. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates ADHD’s lifetime prevalence in U.S. adults between 18 and 44 is just over 8%. While children with ADHD are more likely to struggle with impulsivity and hyperactivity, adults with ADHD are more likely to experience memory problems, restlessness and lack of mental focus.
Even though you may find that evidence-based treatments like medication and psychotherapy go a long way to help you manage your condition, learning effective behavioral strategies can give you the power to control your ADHD symptoms in the moment. Here are five tactics you can use daily.
1. Get Organized
If you often spend your day trying to figure out where to start but wind up getting very little done by dinnertime, a new organizational approach might be in order. Organization helps you manage activities and time efficiently, removing distractions and potential frustration from your day.
One strategy for a more organized lifestyle is to start writing down a schedule for yourself every night for the following day. Beginning each morning knowing what to expect gives you control over your responsibilities and activities. The act of crossing out completed tasks boosts a positive sense of accomplishment.
Whether you have to go to work, run errands or tackle household chores, it’s helpful to write down your top priorities so you can start your day strong and refocus when you lose momentum. Create a habit of checking your schedule at consistent times throughout each day — first thing in the morning, a second time at midday and once more in the early evening to see if you need to complete any lingering items before bedtime.
To maximize your chances of success, cluster similar tasks together under the same time umbrella. For example, answer emails and return phone calls once in the morning and once in the afternoon, instead of throughout the day. Also, make sure you create a bit of space in your day to allow for unexpected obstacles.
How to Create an Organized Home for Adults With ADHD
Home organization and tackling clutter can feel intimidating for most people, particularly those with ADHD. Due to distractibility, decision-making and difficulty with categorizing, adult organizers with ADHD benefit from a targeted approach:
- Focus on only one area or room at a time.
- Schedule specific cleaning and organizing times in your planner — plan to spend only 30 minutes to an hour on each task.
- Categorize boxes for items as you organize — toss, donate and keep.
- When you fill a donation box, make an appointment for that action. Schedule a day and time to take those items to the donation drop-off point.
- If distraction continues to interfere with your goals, hire a sympathetic professional organizer for extra help.
How to Stay Organized With ADHD
To maintain the progress of added structure and your newly decluttered space, follow these tips to make organization a habitual ADHD management tool.
- Use a planner: Use a calendar, planner notebook or smart device to record all activities and appointments every day.
- Schedule your organization: Add tasks to your planner as actionable appointments. For example, pencil in 15 minutes to tidy up the living room at 7 p.m. every day. Designate 30 minutes to clean up the office as part of an ongoing decluttering project.
- Create a “home” for items: Once you determine where an item belongs, consider that location to be its home. For example, place a tray near your entry to hold your keys, sunglasses and wallet — and always return those items to that spot.
- Use color coding or labels: For work or personal items, color-coded, labeled storage containers and files can prioritize items by topic or importance.
2. Follow a Routine
Once you’re comfortable organizing your daily schedule, establish an overall routine that helps your day run smoothly, no matter what may crop up. Get used to dropping your keys into your entry tray the moment you walk through the front door. Hang up your jacket in the closet before walking into the living room to sit on the couch. Evaluate your behavioral patterns to develop routines that work for you.
Build routines by developing protocols to tackle regular chores with less effort. To feel less scattered and more accomplished when you go grocery shopping, create a standing list of weekly staples and take a few minutes before you head out the door to add whatever else you may need for the current week to your list.
Routine-Building Tips for Living With ADHD
Building a pattern of repeated behavior takes time and practice. These tips help routine become second nature.
- Follow a mail routine: Make a system to check and sort mail on specific days and times of the week. Designate an area or container to hold important mail like bills, checks and insurance information.
- Create a routine for chores: Schedule regular chores like laundry and dishes at set days and times every week.
- Use electronic notifications and reminders: Use electronic devices, apps and smart technology to your advantage. Make it a habit to set reminders for appointments and meetings the moment you schedule them. Add notifications for routine responsibilities like taking medications or placing trash outside for pickup.
- Make an exercise routine: Fitness increases the availability of dopamine in the brain, which is often at lower levels than usual for people with ADHD. Exercise also reduces anxiety, improves memory, reduces compulsive behavior and improves executive function — the skills used to organize, plan and remember details.
3. Make Big Tasks More Manageable
If you have to complete a long assignment or an overwhelming project that requires multiple steps and great attention to detail, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps that are easier to accomplish.
Use a detailed checklist or write out your task’s separate components to create a step-by-step roadmap that helps you stay on course from start to finish. Initially, it’s not necessary to put these actionable items in order or even get them all down on paper. After you’ve gotten started and have some momentum, you can add items and put your list into alphabetical or chronological order.
Time Management for Adults With ADHD
Organization and routine set the foundation for better time management, but it can feel overwhelming to start a scheduled project. Sometimes you aren’t quite sure how to begin, or the full scope of the duty seems immense. Whenever you experience these mental or physical roadblocks, commit to working for short amounts of time using a timer method.
Break up large projects into smaller tasks. Instead of one big, daunting project to “clean the entire living room,” create separate tasks like this:
- Task #1: Collect dishes from the living room and place them in the kitchen sink.
- Task #2: Remove items that do not belong in the living room and place them in their homes — toys go back to kids’ rooms, shoes go into the closet.
- Task #3: Vacuum the carpet.
- Task #4: Wipe down tables and surfaces with polish or cleaning spray.
The next time you need to start a substantial project, try this exercise:
- Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes to do only one of the defined tasks.
- For those few minutes, keep your attention focused on that task alone.
- When the timer chimes, decide if you have the energy to continue on that task or, if completed, start a new one for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
- If you still feel motivated, reset the timer and continue working in short intervals for as long as you can.
- If you’d like to rest, that’s OK — stop the activity and try again later or the following day.
4. Minimize Distractions
When you have personal or professional work that requires a higher level of concentration, minimizing distractions can help you keep your focus for longer stretches of time. Declutter and simplify your surroundings at home to remove distractions and improve focus.
Simplification helps at work, too. Improve your concentration by completing existing projects before starting new ones.
Avoid overscheduling and learn to say no to new tasks or responsibilities. Saying no to unnecessary tasks gives you the time and focus to say yes to crucial ones.
How to Deal With Adult ADHD at Work
What distracts you the most at work? Social media? News alerts? Email? Texts? Your messy desk surface? Noisy co-workers?
Distractions at work are a common challenge for employees with ADHD. Be honest with yourself about what causes your primary distractions and curtail those diversions using these tips.
- Turn off notifications: Route calls to voicemail. If you can, turn off message notifications. Check your messages at set times during the day.
- Use noise-canceling headphones: Headphones are ideal for busy or loud environments.
- Choose a quiet space: Request a quiet office space or cubicle.
- Listen to music: Play music or a white noise machine. Research shows that music structure helps the ADHD brain stay on a linear path and address timing deficits. However, not all music works the same way. Loud songs with lyrics can have a distracting effect on some adults with ADHD. The best music options for the benefit of concentration are classical composers and soothing instrumentals.
- Adjust your work schedule: Start work earlier in the day or stay later than usual when it’s quieter at the office.
- Maintain a clean desk: Keep your workspace clutter-free to prevent visual distraction.
5. Respect Your Limits
If you start each morning feeling optimistic about how much work or activity you can incorporate into your day, you’re not alone. Many people overextend themselves by taking on more tasks than they can handle or underestimating the amount of time they need to get things done.
Nothing creates more pressure than committing yourself beyond your limits day after day. Failing to deliver on your promises, whether you’ve made them to your boss, family, friends or yourself, can take the wind out of your sails and leave you feeling even more scattered than usual.
Learning how to live with ADHD involves recognizing when you’ve reached your limit and need to remove tasks from your plate. When you take time to understand and respect your limits, you empower yourself to commit to less and deliver more often.
Professional Help for ADHD Management for Adults
Here at Advanced Psychiatry Associates, we know that ADHD is a complex disorder that affects each adult uniquely. If you’d like some guidance to find the strategies and solutions that fit your life, our experienced, compassionate team is ready to help.
We understand how to deal with ADHD in adults and have dedicated our time and training to providing comprehensive care for our patients. Advanced Psychiatry Associates offers the largest full-service facility in the Sacramento region and provides medication management, therapy and counseling, transcranial magnetic stimulation, ketamine treatments and lab services all in one place for your convenience. Call our office in Folsom, Calif., or schedule an appointment online today.
Tips for Managing Adult ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can create problems in all areas of your life. But these tips can help you cope with symptoms, get focused, and turn chaos into calm.
How to deal with Adult ADHD (or ADD)
If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), previously known as ADD, everything from paying the bills on time to keeping up with work, family, and social demands can seem overwhelming. ADHD can present challenges for adults across all areas of life and can be tough on your health and both your personal and on-the-job relationships. Your symptoms may lead to extreme procrastination, trouble meeting deadlines, and impulsive behavior. In addition, you may feel that friends and family don’t understand what you’re up against.
Fortunately, there are skills you can learn to help control your symptoms of ADHD. You can improve your daily habits, learn to recognize and use your strengths, and develop techniques that help you work more efficiently, maintain organization, and interact better with others. Part of helping yourself may also include educating others to help them understand what you’re going through.
Change won’t happen overnight, though. These ADHD self-help strategies require practice, patience, and, perhaps most importantly, a positive attitude. But by taking advantage of these techniques, you can become more productive, organized, and in control of your life—and improve your sense of self-worth.
|Adult ADHD self-help myths|
|Myth: Medication is the only way to solve my ADHD.|
Fact: While medication can help some people manage the symptoms of ADHD, it is not a cure, nor is it the only solution. If taken at all, it should be used in conjunction with other treatments or self-help strategies.
|Myth: Having ADHD means I'm lazy or unintelligent, so I won't be able to help myself.|
Fact: The effects of ADHD may have caused you and others to label you this way, but the truth is that you are not unmotivated or unintelligent—you have a disorder that gets in the way of certain normal functions. In fact, adults with ADHD often have to find very smart ways to compensate for their disorder.
|Myth: A health professional can solve all my ADHD problems.|
Fact: Health professionals can help you manage symptoms of ADHD, but they can only do so much. You're the one living with the problems, so you're the one who can make the most difference in overcoming them.
|Myth: ADHD is a life sentence—I'll always suffer from its symptoms.|
Fact: While it's true that there is no cure for ADHD, there is a lot you can do to reduce the problems it can cause. Once you become accustomed to using strategies to help yourself, you may find that managing your symptoms becomes second nature.
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Tips for getting organized and controlling clutter
The hallmark traits of ADHD are inattention and distractibility—making organization perhaps the biggest challenge adults with the disorder face. If you have ADHD, the prospect of getting organized, whether it be at work or home, may leave you feeling overwhelmed.
However, you can learn to break tasks down into smaller steps and follow a systematic approach to organization. By implementing various structures and routines, and taking advantage of tools such as daily planners and reminders, you can set yourself up to maintain organization and control clutter.
Develop structure and neat habits—and keep them up
To organize a room, home, or office, start by categorizing your objects, deciding which are necessary and which can be stored or discarded. To organize yourself, get in the habit of taking notes and writing lists. Maintain your newly organized structure with regular, daily routines.
Create space. Ask yourself what you need on a daily basis, and find storage bins or closets for things you don't. Designate specific areas for things like keys, bills, and other items that can be easily misplaced. Throw away things you don't need.
Use a calendar app or day planner. Effective use of a day planner or a calendar on your smartphone or computer can help you remember appointments and deadlines. With electronic calendars, you can also set up automatic reminders so scheduled events don't slip your mind.
Use lists. Make use of lists and notes to keep track of regularly scheduled tasks, projects, deadlines, and appointments. If you decide to use a daily planner, keep all lists and notes inside it. You also have many options for use on your smartphone or computer. Search for “to do” apps or task managers.
Deal with it now. You can avoid forgetfulness, clutter, and procrastination by filing papers, cleaning up messes, or returning phone calls immediately, not sometime in the future. If a task can be done in two minutes or less, do it on the spot, rather than putting it off for later.
Tame your paper trail
If you have ADHD, paperwork might make up a major part of your disorganization. But you can put a stop to the endless piles of mail and papers strewn across your kitchen, desk, or office. All it takes is some time to set up a paperwork system that works for you.
Deal with mail on a daily basis. Set aside a few minutes each day to deal with the mail, preferably as soon as you bring it inside. It helps to have a designated spot where you can sort the mail and either trash it, file it, or act on it.
Go paperless. Minimize the amount of paper you have to deal with. Request electronic statements and bills instead of paper copies. In the U.S., you can reduce junk mail by opting out of the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service.
Set up a filing system. Use dividers or separate file folders for different types of documents (such as medical records, receipts, and income statements). Label and color-code your files so that you can find what you need quickly.
Tips for managing your time and staying on schedule
Trouble with time management is a common effect of ADHD. You may frequently lose track of time, miss deadlines, procrastinate, underestimate how much time you need for tasks, or find yourself doing things in the wrong order. Many adults with ADHD spend so much time on one task—known as “hyperfocusing”—that nothing else gets done. These difficulties can leave you feeling frustrated and inept, and make others impatient. But, there are solutions to help you better manage your time.
Time management tips
Adults with attention deficit disorder often have a different perception of how time passes. To align your sense of time with everyone else, use the oldest trick in the book: a clock.
Become a clock-watcher. Use a wristwatch or highly visible wall or desk clock to help you keep track of time. When you start a task, make a note of the time by saying it out loud or writing it down.
Use timers. Allot yourself limited amounts of time for each task and use a timer or alarm to alert you when your time is up. For longer tasks, consider setting an alarm to go off at regular intervals to keep you productive and aware of how much time is going by.
Give yourself more time than you think you need. Adults with ADHD are notoriously bad at estimating how long it will take to do something. For every thirty minutes of time you think it will take you to get someplace or complete a task, give yourself a cushion by adding ten minutes.
Plan to be early and set up reminders. Write down appointments for fifteen minutes earlier than they really are. Set up reminders to ensure you leave on time and make sure you have everything you need ahead of time so you're not frantically looking for your keys or phone when it's time to go.
Because adults with ADHD often struggle with impulse control and jump from one subject to another, completing tasks can be difficult and large projects can seem overwhelming. To overcome this:
Decide what to tackle first. Ask yourself what the most important task is that you need to accomplish, and then order your other priorities after that one.
Take things one at a time. Break down large projects or jobs into smaller, manageable steps.
Stay on task. Avoid getting sidetracked by sticking to your schedule, using a timer to enforce it if necessary.
Learn to say no
Impulsiveness can lead adults with ADHD to agree to too many projects at work or make too many social engagements. But a jam-packed schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed, overtired, and affect the quality of your work. Saying no to certain commitments may improve your ability to accomplish tasks, keep social dates, and live a healthier lifestyle. Check your schedule first before agreeing to something new.
Tips for managing money and bills
Money management requires budgeting, planning, and organization, so for many adults with ADHD, it can pose a true challenge. Many common systems of money management don't tend to work for adults with ADHD because they require too much time, paper, and attention to detail. But if you create your own system that is both simple and consistent, you can get on top of your finances and put a stop to overspending, overdue bills, and penalties for missed deadlines.
Control your budget
An honest assessment of your financial situation is the first step to getting budgeting under control. Start by keeping track of every expense, no matter how small, for a month. This will allow you to effectively analyze where your money is going. You may be surprised at how much you're spending on unnecessary items and impulse purchases. You can then use this snapshot of your spending habits to create a monthly budget based on your income and needs.
Figure out how you can avoid straying from your budget. For example, if you're spending too much at restaurants, you can make an eating-in plan and factor in time for grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Set up a simple money management and bill paying system
Establish an easy, organized system that helps you save documents, receipts, and stay on top of bills. For an adult with ADHD, the opportunity to manage banking on the computer can be the gift that keeps on giving. Organizing money online means less paperwork, no messy handwriting, and no misplaced slips.
Switch to online banking. Signing up for online banking can turn the hit-or-miss process of balancing your budget into a thing of the past. Your online account will list all deposits and payments, tracking your balance automatically, to the penny, every day. You can also set up automatic payments for your regular monthly bills and log on as needed to pay irregular and occasional ones. The best part: no misplaced envelopes or late fees.
Set up bill pay reminders. If you prefer not to set up automatic payments, you can still make the process of bill paying easier with electronic reminders. You may be able to set up text or email reminders through online banking or you can schedule them in your calendar app.
Take advantage of technology. Free services can help you keep track of your finances and accounts. They typically take some time to set up, but once you've linked your accounts they automatically update. Such tools can make your financial life easier.
Tips for staying focused and productive at work
ADHD can create special challenges at work. The things you may find toughest—organization, completion of tasks, sitting still, listening quietly—are the very things you're often asked to do all day long.
Juggling ADHD and a challenging job is no easy task, but by tailoring your workplace environment you can take advantage of your strong points while minimizing the negative impact of your ADHD symptoms.
Get organized at work
Organize your office, cubicle, or desk, one manageable step at a time. Then use the following strategies to stay tidy and organized:
Set aside daily time for organization. Mess is always distracting so set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to clear your desk and organize your paperwork. Experiment with storing things inside your desk or in bins so that they don't clutter your workspace as unnecessary distractions.
Use colors and lists. Color-coding can be very useful to people with ADHD. Manage forgetfulness by writing everything down.
Prioritize. More important tasks should be placed first on your to-do list so you remember to do them before lower priority tasks. Set deadlines for everything, even if they are self-imposed.
When you have attention issues, where you work and what is around you can significantly affect how much you are able to get done. Let your workmates know you need to concentrate, and try the following techniques to minimize distractions:
Where you work matters. If you don't have your own office, you may be able to take your work to an empty office or conference room. If you are in a lecture hall or conference, try sitting close to the speaker and away from people who chat during the meeting.
Minimize external commotion. Face your desk towards a wall and keep your workplace free of clutter. To discourage interruptions, you could even hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign. If possible, let voicemail pick up your phone calls and return them later, turn off email and social media during certain times of the day, or even log off the Internet completely. If noise distracts you, consider noise-canceling headphones or a sound machine
Save big ideas for later. All those great concepts or random thoughts that keep popping into your head and distracting you? Jot them down on paper or on your smartphone for later consideration. Some people with ADHD like to schedule time at the end of the day to go through all the notes they've made.
Stretch your attention span
As an adult with ADHD, you are capable of focusing—it's just that you may have a hard time keeping that focus, especially when the activity isn't one that you find particularly engaging. Boring meetings or lectures are hard on anyone, but for adults with ADHD, they may pose a special challenge. Similarly, following multiple directions can also be difficult for those with ADHD. Use these tips to improve your focus and ability to follow instructions:
Get it in writing. If you're attending a meeting, lecture, workshop, or another gathering that requires close attention, ask for an advance copy of the relevant materials—such as a meeting agenda or lecture outline. At the meeting, use the written notes to guide your active listening and note taking. Writing as you listen will help you stay focused on the speaker's words.
Echo directions. After someone gives verbal instructions, say them aloud to make sure you got it right.
Move around. To prevent restlessness and fidgeting, go ahead and move around—at the appropriate times in the right places. As long as you are not disturbing others, try squeezing a stress ball during a meeting, for example. Or taking a walk or even jumping up and down during a meeting break can help you pay attention later on.
Tips for managing stress and boosting mood
Due to the impulsivity and disorganization that often accompany ADHD, you may struggle with erratic sleep, an unhealthy diet, or the effects of too little exercise—all issues that can lead to extra stress, bad moods, and feeling out of control. The best way to stop this cycle is to take charge of your lifestyle habits and create healthy new routines.
Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can help you stay calm, minimize mood swings, and fight any symptoms of anxiety and depression. Healthier habits can also reduce ADHD symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, and distractibility, while regular routines can help your life feel more manageable.
Exercise and spend time outdoors
Working out is perhaps the most positive and efficient way to reduce hyperactivity and inattention from ADHD. Exercise can relieve stress, boost your mood, and calm your mind, helping work off the excess energy and aggression that can get in the way of relationships and feeling stable.
Exercise on a daily basis. Choose something vigorous and fun that you can stick with, like a team sport or working out with a friend.
Increase stress relief by exercising outdoors—people with ADHD often benefit from sunshine and green surroundings.
Try relaxing forms of exercise, such as mindful walking, yoga, or tai chi. In addition to relieving stress, they can teach you to better control your attention and impulses.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep deprivation can increase symptoms of adult ADHD, reducing your ability to cope with stress and maintain focus during the day. Simple changes to daytime habits go a long way toward ensuring solid nightly sleep.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day.
- Exercise vigorously and regularly, but not within an hour of bedtime.
- Create a predictable and quiet “bedtime” routine, including taking a hot shower or bath just before bed.
- Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
While unhealthy eating habits don't cause ADHD, a poor diet can exacerbate symptoms. By making simple changes in what and how you eat, you may experience big reductions in distractibility, hyperactivity, and stress levels.
- Eat small meals throughout day.
- Avoid sugar and junk food as much as possible.
- Make sure you include healthy protein at every meal.
- Aim for several servings of fiber-rich whole grains each day.
As well as reducing stress, regular mindfulness meditation can help you to better resist distractions, lower impulsivity, improve your focus, and provide more control over your emotions. Since hyperactivity symptoms can make meditation a challenge for some adults with ADHD, starting slowly can help. Meditate for short periods and gradually increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable with the process—and are better able to maintain focus. The key is to then draw on these mindfulness techniques during your daily life to keep you on track. Experiment with free or inexpensive smartphone apps or online guided meditations.
Authors: Robert Segal, M.A. and Melinda Smith, M.A.
Neurodevelopmental Disorders. (2013). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425787.x01_Neurodevelopmental_Disorders
Canela, C., Buadze, A., Dube, A., Eich, D., & Liebrenz, M. (2017). Skills and compensation strategies in adult ADHD – A qualitative study. PLoS ONE, 12(9), e0184964. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184964
Mitchell, J. T., McIntyre, E. M., English, J. S., Dennis, M. F., Beckham, J. C., & Kollins, S. H. (2017). A Pilot Trial of Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Impact on Core Symptoms, Executive Functioning, and Emotion Dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(13), 1105–1120. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054713513328
Seven Daily Habits to Close the “Success Gap” – How to uncover your special talents and use them to achieve important goals. (ADDitude)
Adult ADHD: Free Downloads – Download free tip-filled handouts about managing adult ADHD. Includes information on getting organized, bringing bills under control, and staying focused. (ADDitude)
Relationships & Social Skills – Challenges associated with ADHD and concrete tips on implementing change (CHADD)
Managing Money and ADHD – Improve your money management skills, follow a budget, and stay on top of bills. (CHADD)
Top Ten ADHD Traps in the Workplace – Covers the top workplace stumbling blocks for people with ADHD, and strategies for avoiding them. (Healthy Place)
Workplace Accommodations Can Make You and Your Employer Successful – How to adapt your work environment to the challenges of ADHD. (CHADD)
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Last updated: October 14, 2022
How to cope with anxiety: 7 ways to help ‹ GO Blog
Anxiety is an emotional state caused by the expectation of danger or threat. While fear is a basic human emotion associated with the instinct of self-preservation, and appears directly at the moment of danger.
The terms "fear" and "anxiety" are not synonymous, but they can be used interchangeably when it comes to situational anxiety (state at a given moment in time).
In the normal state, the self-preservation function encourages action, but there are also moments of apathy when anxiety intensifies.
We will tell you how to cope with anxiety on your own and determine its level in yourself.
Read more: "9 Proven Ways to Beat Procrastination"
How to Measure Anxiety
American psychologist Charles Spielberger studied more than 117 signs of human anxiety and created a scale to determine its level. His "assessment of the level of anxiety" is divided into situational and personal. Situational is responsible for the state at a given moment in time and the influence of external circumstances - for example, self-isolation. Personal - character of a person.
To determine “your level” of anxiety, you can take a test of 40 short questions.
What causes anxiety
The main factors that provoke increased anxiety in us are loneliness, problems at work, problems in relationships, health, environment and all sorts of conflicts.
Our way of life also has a great influence. For example, we are more likely to experience anxiety states if we are constantly on the phone or watching the news on TV. Digital progress has certainly made our life faster and better, but we pay for this comfort with an additional level of stress, new fears and complexes due to the large flow of news.
Try to minimize the number of hours spent on the Internet. Go outdoors, read, do yoga, cook, cross-stitch, build LEGOs – there are so many more options than you might think.
Stages of anxiety
– Waiting alarm. People who foresee the most unfavorable of all possible situations suffer. Such anxiety can appear at certain moments or haunt a person constantly.
– Anxiety in the form of phobias is associated with certain situations and objects. For example, fear of loneliness, spiders or darkness. May be a clinical case if expressed in the form of panic attacks.
- Neurotic anxiety. This form of anxiety is the most serious and is found in many psychological diseases: hysterical, schizoid. There is a pathological level of fear here that destroys a person's mental health.
The whole planet is now in fear of waiting due to the incessant flow of news and uncertainty. "Fear of waiting" or "free fear" is formed due to the information flow in which we are constantly immersed. The tools that help to cope with situational anxiety, which has no connection with clinical cases, will be described below.
Feelings of fear are easily confused, so before we talk about how to get rid of anxiety, we will learn how to identify it.
There are situations when we do not distinguish between emotions, so the so-called "false alarm" is formed. In this case, the first thing psychologists can advise is to learn how to isolate anxiety from a large stream of other emotions. Observe for yourself - in what situations you are overcome by anxiety. Divide these situations into those in which anxiety is justified and those where it is not.
For example, you are on a bus and as you approach the bus stop, you are overtaken by a feeling of anxiety. On the one hand, this may be due to fear that you will miss your stop, or a sense of shame, as it is embarrassing to ask the driver to stop the car.
Another example is when you want to ask the teacher in class, but you are afraid to raise your hand. This fear may arise from self-doubt and the expectation that classmates will laugh at you.
Sometimes anxiety is born from some other feelings, such as shame or insecurity. Realizing this and overcoming it, you no longer have a reason for concern, and with it the state of anxiety disappears.
Read more: “How to stop being shy and get rid of the language barrier”
How to cope with anxiety
Alarm often occurs due to uncertainty in actions and feelings. First, try to find out what causes anxiety. For example, you are worried about being fired from your job. Before you panic, look at the facts: look at the state of the market and the area in which your company operates, evaluate the workload at work now and predict the task plan for the next month. And this applies not only to work, but to any area in which you feel anxiety.
Usually such an exercise helps to see the true picture. If you understand that while everything is under control, you can exhale, if not, proceed to your detailing. Write out a detailed plan of action that will help you avoid uncertainty and tell you how to act in any situation:
Write down what skills you have and where they can be useful. For example, being an illustrator or photoshop, having a driver's license and owning a car, copywriting skills, etc.
Edit your resume and prepare some cover letters to the employer about yourself.
Build your own range of services, from the most preferred activities to the least interesting.
Leave a list of potential employers to whom you can offer your services. The bigger, the better.
Write to them!
The work done will help you feel more confident and have a plan to get out of a crisis situation.
Sometimes anxiety arises from the conviction that we will not cope with this or that action. A visual picture of your skills will always help to believe in yourself. When you read your list, you will realize that you can achieve a lot, despite the circumstances.
Read more: “4 things on your resume that will help the employer to choose you”
Use exposure therapy
A complex combination of words with a simple meaning - a meeting with your problem "on the forehead." It is important to understand that this is NOT a fight against a problem. The point is to acknowledge the existence of anxiety, not to get rid of it completely.
Don't ignore things that make you feel anxious. For example, to move up the career ladder, you need to learn English, but you haven’t opened your textbook for three days and you constantly scold yourself for it. This lowers your self-esteem and increases your anxiety about your success at work and in life.
Give yourself a full day of rest without worries or self-criticism. Imagine that this is an official vacation or vacation. And then gradually get down to business: you can start with one page of English text per day or a five-minute video. Gradually, you will accustom your body to the load and develop a habit.
Keep a sleep schedule
It is during sleep that growth hormone is produced, which is responsible for the restoration of our body, including the nervous system. Especially if we go to bed before 12 o'clock at night.
The BBC TV show Trust Me I'm a Doctor, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, did a little experiment on how sleep affects our psychological state. The study involved people who are distinguished by "strong sleep". During the experiment, the participants were given conditions: in the first three nights they had to sleep for 8 hours, which is the norm, and the next three nights - for 4 hours. Every day, the subjects answered questions that helped determine changes in their psychological state, behavior and emotions. The results showed that after two nights of sleep deprivation, negative emotions began to predominate in the subjects, as well as an increase in distrust of others and aggression.
The study also shows that insomnia is not always the result of mental disorders, sometimes it is lack of sleep that provokes the appearance of psychological problems.
It is important to periodically switch from one activity to another - for example, from physical activity to mental activity. So, when you go in for sports, there is a restoration of brain functions due to the supply of oxygen. And with mental stress, the muscular system is restored by improving blood flow in the muscles.
A simple alternation of work and study with a little physical activity will improve the functioning of the body's metabolic processes, and at the same time speed up the restoration of the nervous system, contributing to its strengthening.
Meditate and breathe
Meditation and breathing are sure helpers in overcoming psychological instability. A Johns Hopkins University study found a relationship between meditation practice and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The team of researchers found that the effect of meditation is comparable to the effect of depressants - in this case, being a more useful solution to the problem, as it does not cause side effects. Meditation also helps to switch the work of the brain and focus on yourself, and not on the "noise" around.
Breathing techniques are equally beneficial: they improve blood circulation and help to speed up the overall metabolism. Also, the deep breathing technique, combined with relaxation exercises, reduces nervous tension well.
Routine helps reduce anxiety. Engage in hobbies, watch movies, clean up, play sports - try to periodically disconnect from the news flow and take time for yourself and your body.
Read more: "What to do with a child at home at any age"
If your anxiety does not go away, consult a doctor - this way, you can quickly understand yourself and solve internal problems! Do not forget that your health is the most valuable thing and going to a specialist is an act that you do primarily for yourself.
How to calm down: 10 ways to quickly pull yourself together
When terrible events happen in the world, it is common for a person to experience stress, shock and panic from receiving bad news. Now we all constantly read and listen to the news, trying not to miss a single detail of what is happening. The information field inflames the nervous system, therefore, together with psychologists, RBC Style prepared instructions on how to calm down when a feeling of anxiety appears.
If we receive a lot of negative information at once, panic and terror can set in. They are easily identified by a rapid pulse, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness in the chest . Often, along with anxiety come sweating, chills and tremors inside. The symptoms are somewhat similar to a panic attack, but are not as pronounced. The hormone cortisol is responsible for this response. The task of this steroid is to give us strength in case of severe danger. It increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels  and also helps to survive pain.
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Experts in the article:
Anastasia Afanasyeva, psychotherapist, clinical director of the online platform for the selection of psychologists and psychotherapists Alter;
Olya Osokina, founder of AIBY health-tech company;
Sofya Khasieva, therapist, leading specialist of the Semeynaya clinic network
The release of cortisol in itself is not harmful, but on a “regular basis” it can lead to various psychological disorders. Therefore, it is very important to be able to cope with anxiety attacks. But what methods really work?
The body copes with muscle spasm due to the release of hormones through rapid breathing. Our body at this moment is ready for decisive action. There is no need to run headlong, you need to concentrate and restore your breath. Scientists have described effective techniques :
- inhale slowly and for a long time through the nose;
- exhale even more slowly and deeply through your mouth;
- close your eyes and focus on your breath;
- you can start counting your exhalations.
This technique will help you switch your attention to your own body, which means you can relax a little. Moreover, self-regulation of breathing is recognized by scientists as the primary treatment for anxiety disorders .
Olya Osokina, founder of health-tech company AIBY:
“It's better to breathe this way: the exhalation is longer than the inhalation. For example, for four counts - inhale, for eight counts - exhale. Gradually increase the number of exhalation counts, bringing their number to 16. In a minute, you need to take 12 breaths and exhalations. There is another useful exercise. When you are calm, not anxious or afraid, try to get scared. You will feel surprised and maybe even laugh. With the help of this exercise, you will train yourself and at the moment of fear you will perceive it differently and it will be easier to live.
Anastasia Afanasyeva, psychotherapist, clinical director of the online platform for the selection of psychologists and psychotherapists Alter:
“In fact, there is no right and wrong method of breathing to cope with panic. Moreover, it is important to understand that breathing practices should not become "protective" behavior, that is, a way to avoid anxiety. We use breathing practices to allow us to "ground ourselves" and return from anxiety to the present moment. To do this, you should pay attention to breathing, without changing it in any way, just noticing the inhalation, exhalation, the way the air passes through the respiratory tract.
Sofya Khasieva, therapist, leading specialist of the Semeynaya clinic network:
“Proper breathing plays a great role in reducing anxiety levels. Being in a state of panic and fear, we may not notice how our breathing has become frequent and shallow - chest. Here the technique of diaphragmatic, abdominal breathing with a long exhalation will come to the rescue. It is the most physiological for a person, as it provides optimal gas exchange in the lungs, and also stimulates the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing the body, including slowing down the pulse, normalizing intestinal motility, and improving blood supply.
Breathing practices are the basis of meditation. Her task is to build relationships with her body. There are many meditation techniques, and they will be useful to any person: the main thing is to find the right one for yourself. You can start just with conscious breathing.
Breathe Properly: How Mindful Breathing Can Improve Your Health
2. Stop Doomscrolling
The term doomscrolling is relatively recent, and refers to the continuous browsing of feeds in search of bad news. Surely, you forced yourself to do this. Unfortunately, it can only increase anxiety and cause negative consequences . Psychologists recommend limiting the consumption of news content to individual hours, if you can’t refuse it altogether.
“Make time for yourself during the day when you read the news: for example, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. The rest of the time, turn off notifications from news channels, remove them from the visibility zone. In Telegram, these channels can be archived,” advises Anastasia Afanasyeva .
“Consuming news is the most popular activity for everyone these days, whether it's watching TV, reading news feeds, or surfing social media. I recommend prioritizing and choosing yourself over the news. It's important to set boundaries. For example, today I will watch the news for 2 hours, but the rest of the time I will devote to myself and pressing issues,” says Olya Osokina, founder of AIBY’s health-tech company.
3. Use fragrances
Known fact: the smell of lavender has a positive effect on the body and promotes relaxation. Some studies have shown that inhaling the aroma of this plant helps with anxiety disorders . You can light candles, buy a diffuser, or take a warm bath with lavender salt.
4. Write down your feelings
Doctors recommend using the expressive writing technique for prolonged stress. Dr. Pennebaker found that journaling can help relieve stress and combat the effects of mental trauma . But even with sudden attacks of anxiety, this technique can help relieve tension. In fact, this is the same as speaking out - voicing your fears and leaving it on paper. You don't have to think about what you are writing about. Just set a timer for 20 minutes and start writing down everything that bothers you, regardless of mistakes and punctuation.
5. Go for a walk
In a situation where your heart rate and blood pressure are high, exercise is not a good idea. This will be an additional burden on the body. Walking, on the other hand, can help calm you down. What’s more, walking in the woods has been found to help reduce anxiety . In the conditions of the city, a park can become a substitute for a forest.
6. Drink water (but not alcohol)
Many people find that they lose their appetite when they are stressed or panicked. This is explained by the same release of hormones that prepare the body for an attack and turn off functions that are unnecessary at the time of danger, such as hunger. A glass of cool water, on the other hand, can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, especially if you're not hydrated and not drinking enough fluids. Scientists have found that there is a link between water deficiency and depressive and anxiety disorders. Dehydration can exacerbate stress symptoms .
It is important to remember that caffeinated beverages and alcohol can only worsen your condition. Try to avoid them.
“Anxiety is best dealt with by experiencing emotions, rather than trying to relieve them with drugs or food. This behavior can lead to drug abuse or compulsive overeating. Breathe, walk, talk to your loved ones. Coffee and tea, especially green tea, contain caffeine, which will only increase anxiety. Alcohol, although it can dull the condition for a while, is a depressogen. That is, after the effect of alcohol wears off, the likelihood of a decrease in mood increases greatly. If you feel that it is very difficult to cope on your own, then you can use valerian.
To get rid of the oncoming anxiety, you should try to switch to another activity, such as cleaning.
“Switching to the body is a good technique, because during a panic, as a rule, a person is “thrown” out of the body and our task is to return to it. There are people who dispose of their emotions (anxiety and fear) while cleaning or washing dishes.
“Thanks to Ivan Mikhailovich Sechenov's research in the field of physiology, we know that the best rest for the body is a change of activity. Therefore, a pleasurable physical activity or creative process will be useful, singing is especially useful for relieving anxiety (largely, again, due to the influence of respiratory movements on the nervous system).
8. Buy an anti-stress toy
These items are called that for a reason - they can really help. As a rule, such toys involve fine motor skills. You do something with your hands, it calms and distracts from bad thoughts.
“They help keep your hands occupied when you're anxious and shift your focus away from destructive behavior like trying to bite your nails, pick at sores, and so on. Of course, they will not be able to remove the main wave of anxiety and stress.”
“Toys like this work well. But you need to choose an anti-stress item that is right for you, for example, a pillow with balls, where you can use fine motor skills.”
9. Turn on the blue light
Scientists have found that blue light has a calming effect on the nervous system . It is also used to treat sleep problems. But even in the event of an attack of anxiety, it can bring relief. If there is no suitable lamp at hand, doctors recommend going outside. Daylight has a positive effect on our body, thanks to the sun, the hormone of joy, serotonin, is produced, which will definitely help in the fight against fear.
“Color has no effect on the level of anxiety that reigns in society today. Rather, it is important to go outside under natural light to promote the production of vitamin D. It has a positive effect on mood and immunity.”
“In my opinion, color and light should be considered individually for each person. Generally speaking, a soft, unsharp light that doesn't dazzle your eyes works best. People often talk about the color blue because it is associated with calmness and peace and evokes positive emotions.”
10. Seek help
If you experience uncontrollable panic attacks that recur constantly, you should seek help from a therapist or psychologist.
“The ability to feel fears and doubts about future events, based on previous experience, helps to avoid perceived dangers and, ultimately, to survive. However, in today's busy world, the ability to worry can be very maladaptive. Our task is to learn how to regulate anxious reactions and support ourselves in difficult times.
When acute or chronic anxiety prevents you from adapting to the situation and life in general, communicating with people, building relationships, achieving goals, you need to see a doctor. If your anxiety is so strong that it affects sleep and appetite, you find it difficult to perform routine activities or try new things, and panic attacks make you unable to leave the house, then it may not just be anxiety, but about anxiety disorder.
The spectrum of anxiety disorders is diverse. They are treated by psychotherapists and psychiatrists. They use a combination of non-drug and drug therapies. Choose psychotherapists and psychologists who work in well-researched areas (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR) that are highly effective.”
“You should go to the doctor if you have panic attacks almost every day, you can’t sleep and/or eat, your mood has steadily decreased, and thoughts of a suicidal nature have appeared. In this case, you should consult a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.
If you feel a surge of panic, remember that panic is a manifestation of intense anxiety and an adrenaline rush. The best thing you can do is get over this anxiety. To do this, you can imagine the rolling of this sensation as a wave that rises and falls, and gradually fades. After all, if we do not reinforce anxiety, then adrenaline stops being thrown out and it recedes.
“Every person tends to experience fear and anxiety. Panic occurs when several exciting events occur at one moment and the psyche cannot cope.