Free Self-Help Video Course for Adult ADHD and ADD

Welcome to this free self-help course for adult ADHD and ADHD. Learn how ADHD affects the brain, and effective strategies to manage the challenges that can arise from adult ADHD.

Understanding and Managing Adult ADHD

ADHD can come with a number of positive personality traits like creativity, energy, and enthusiasm, and spontaneity, it can make us outgoing, charismatic, and fun to be around. But ADHD also presents difficulties related to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

We might struggle to sustain attention, getting easily distracted or sidetracked, and avoid tasks that require prolonged mental effort or have trouble planning and organizing, managing time, or finishing things we’ve started. We might frequently lose things or be forgetful in daily activities. We can feel restless, fidgety, impatient, or feel like we need to be constantly on the go, as if driven by a motor. We can act impulsively, making decisions and taking risks without considering all the consequences, doing or saying things we later regret, or interrupting people or talking excessively.

These challenges with maintaining attention and impulse control aren’t due to lack of effort, intelligence, or willpower but are the result of how ADHD affects the brain.

ADHD is linked to difficulties in certain executive functions. Executive functions are complex cognitive skills that manage various brain processes and help us be more efficient in our daily lives.

but even when ADHD is affecting certain executive functions there are lots of things we can do to compensate so let’s take a look at these executive functions and how they relate to ADHD and then learn strategies to manage any challenges that result.

  • Inhibitory control: Resisting distractions. “Cool, a new video.” “Nope, back to work.” Refraining from impulsive behaviors. “I have to buy these right now.” “Hmm, let’s just see if I still want them tomorrow.”
  • Self-awareness:
    • Of our thoughts: “I just want to watch TikTok all night.” “Ugh, a work email, I’ve got to go home to take care of this.” Being more aware of our thoughts helps us notice when we’re getting distracted or about to do something impulsive, giving us the chance to direct our attention where we want it. “But I’m here to hang out with my friends and to choose what we want to do,” rather than acting impulsively. “I’ll deal with it later.”
    • Of our feelings and emotions: “I feel too depressed, I’m just going to leave.” Which also reduces impulsivity and helps us regulate our emotions. “If I just talk to my friends, I’ll start feeling better.”
    • Of our actions and behavior: “I’m talking a lot.” Which allows us to recognize how others are reacting to our behavior. “I think I’m boring people, I need to stop talking so much.”
  • Working memory: The ability to hold and manipulate information in our minds. Crucial for performing cognitive tasks like problem-solving and following instructions.
  • Planning, problem-solving, and organization: Setting goals, creating efficient plans, organizing tasks, managing time.
  • Self-motivation: Initiating and sustaining effort towards a goal, even when there aren’t any immediate rewards.
  • Emotion regulation: Recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions without becoming distracted by them or overwhelmed or acting on them impulsively.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness are the most effective psychological tools to manage inattention and impulsivity and enhance executive functions.

CBT emphasizes improving organization, planning, and problem-solving skills to help us better manage our daily lives. We learn to create structured routines using tools like calendars, to-do lists, notifications, timers, and alarms, prioritizing tasks that are most essential.

This allows us to manage time better and be less forgetful and impulsive, since things are planned out, written down, and tracked. And we break tasks down into a series of small steps, each of which can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, reducing distractibility, inattention, and the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed. If we find it difficult to pay attention for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time, then each step should only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

So instead of trying to do it all at once, we can do it in small chunks throughout the day. And check the link in the description for a more detailed video about organizing and problem-solving.

We minimize distractions in our environments by keeping clean, uncluttered spaces, putting our phones in our pockets or in a drawer on do not disturb, and only checking them at scheduled times.

And we avoid multitasking, focusing on just one thing at a time. We can also reduce distractibility and impulsiveness with a technique called distractibility delay. When something captures our attention, instead of immediately following it, we simply write down the distraction so we don’t need to worry about forgetting it in case it’s important.

And then we set it aside until the current task is complete or our next break, and then refocus our attention back to the current task. Once we finish this task or during a break, we review our list of distractions and evaluate their significance.

Often, they turn out to have been just fleeting thoughts or urges that are no longer relevant. But if they are important, we can attend to them now. We can also use this strategy in settings like meetings where if ideas keep popping into our heads that we want to share right away, rather than interrupting anyone, we just write the ideas down so we don’t forget them, and then bring them up at an appropriate time.

CBT also involves reframing negative or counterproductive thoughts to improve daily functioning. If we have a thought like “I’ll never be able to do this, I just can’t stay focused,” we might modify this to something like, “I get easily distracted, but I can stay focused for short periods of time if I break things down into small enough parts.” Or instead of, “I’m just not in the mood to do this right now,” something like, “I might never be in the mood, I can just get started with a small step and see how it goes.”

Reframing thoughts also regulates emotions. A thought like, “These things are so easy for everyone else, I should be able to do this without all of these lists and reminders,” can leave us feeling sad or angry or frustrated. Reframing it as, “It would be nice if I could accomplish things easier without all of these lists and reminders, but at least I have some strategies that can help me stay on track,” can improve our moods and make our emotions less intense.

Or a thought like, “I’ll never get all of this done and just finishing a small part doesn’t count for anything,” can leave us stressed or anxious or overwhelmed. If we reframe this to something like ,“accomplishing tasks usually involves completing a series of smaller steps so I’m glad I got at least one of them out of the way can help calm our emotions.”

Reframing our thoughts can be challenging, but I have a number of videos with strategies that can help.

Mindfulness is also an effective way to manage ADHD, and it doesn’t even need to involve meditation there’s some simple mindfulness techniques that anyone can learn that improve focus and reduce distractibility and impulsivity increase self-awareness and help regulate emotions so please check out my video on mindfulness and ADHD

In the lessons that follow we’ll start by looking at tips to improve planning and organizing skills, and CBT techniques to modify counterproductive thoughts related to ADHD. Then we’ll learn simple mindfulness exercises to reduce distractibility and impulsivity, and the last section covers emotion regulation strategies to manage emotions better.

If you’re looking for a self-help book, I recommend, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD: Proven Strategies to Succeed at Work, at Home, and in Relationships (2nd ed.), by Russell A. Barkley. And if you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.