How to Prioritize Self-Care When You Have ADHD

How to Prioritize Self-Care When You Have ADHDThe term self-care can conjure up images of luxury spa treatments and exotic island retreats. In reality though, self-care is about practical day to day actions that make sure you are well looked after.

Self-Care is care for you by you. 

It is knowing what your needs are, then making sure those needs are met.  Those needs range from eating food regularly, taking a shower,  developing communication skills and doing activities that make you happy.

If you don’t look after yourself, it is easy to become physically depleted, emotionally exhausted, resentful, depressed or angry, which in turn can mean your ADHD symptoms get  worse, relationships suffer and performance at work  suffers.

Adults with ADHD are often good at looking after other people but not so good at treating themselves with the same care and attention.

 2 common reasons for not putting yourself at the top of your priority list are:

  • Feeling undeserving
  • Feeling overwhelmed and that there is no time.

It can be tempting to think you will start looking after yourself when everything else in your life is more organized and well managed.  However, it is  helpful to start practicing self care right now. When you look after yourself first, everything else in your life seems to fall into place – including feeling more organized and in control.

Self-Care Can Feel Very Uncomfortable

Just thinking about self care can feel very uncomfortable. In fact, reading this article  might have made you feel annoyed or that it’s not for you. Sit with the discomfort, and start with very small yet regular self care actions.

Self-care means different things for different people. However, here is a list of the basic self-care categories that you can use as a guide and for inspiration.

7 Basic Self-Care Categories

1) Health

  • Visit doctor(s), dentist for regular check-ups
  • Book an appointment with a psychologist to address emotional upsets
  • Do your favorite type of exercise every day
  • Eat regularly throughout the day
  • Take supplements, including an omega-3.
  • Put yourself to bed before midnight

2) People

  • Spend time with people who respect and appreciate you
  • Hang out with people who you genuinely enjoy being with
  • Create healthy and respectful boundaries…so you don’t feel resentful or deplete yourself

3) Communication

  • Feel comfortable saying no to things
  • Get good at delegating

4) Transport

  • Keep your car maintained so you can travel safely • Follow the speed limit
  • Always have gas in your car so you aren’t worrying if you have enough to get you to your destination

5) Time Management

  • • Have a realistic schedule rather than trying to pack lots in and feel frazzled, late and disappointed in yourself.

6) Finances

  • Pay bills on time
  • File your Taxes every year

7) Happiness

  • Spend time doing things that are fun for you: hobbies, etc.
  • Develop a gratitude habit and pick 3 things each day you are grateful for

8) Personal Grooming

  • Book regular hair dresser appointments
  •  Look neat and tidy Ex. nails, shave
  • Have clean and presentable clothes (zero holes, wrinkles) to wear

Making self-care a priority runs much deeper than picking up the phone to book a hair dresser’s appointment, although that is a good first step.

It also involves an awareness of what makes you tick and knowing that you are an important person who deserve these things.

You might need to:

• Learn new skills like budgeting or time-keeping, which could help you improve your self-care.

• Begin to treat and manage your ADHD.

• Work with a therapist or coach to help improve your self-esteem or improve your assertiveness in order to say no to people.

• Or do a mixture of all 3!

Rather than doing a complete overhaul now,  or waiting for a ‘perfect’ time in the future (which never comes), make upgrades in small increments.

1.Sit down and  brainstorm all the ways you could improve your self care.

2.Look at the list and see what you could do that is easy. Maybe take an omega-3 supplement, or get your haircut every 2 months rather than every 3 months.

3.Then, gradually do more and more of the things on your list until you are practicing extreme self care!

Are you good at practicing self care? leave a message in the comments section below.

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  1. Kathleen says:

    Thank you Jacqui, you have described me perfectly! I am feeling particularly overwhelmed in the last year or 2 as my kids get older and show signs of Add as well and I’m in a scary place trying to teach them good habits and get
    Organized while working full time and having many after school activities! it’s overwhelming at times but I’m thankful for this insight to help propel me forward. Keep them coming 😊

  2. Colleen says:

    Thank-you Jacqueline! A Awesome list! It was just what I needed today! I have been travelling with the wrong company. I need to change that. I need to get together with people who respect and appreciate me! I was seriously getting Burnt out. I needed that list today to see where I was in trouble.
    Thanks again!

  3. I had a massive insight about self care recently. I habitually look at my life as a pot with only so much space to put in all the things I want to achieve. Of course being ADHD there are always more things than there is room and self care falls lower and lower on the list. the whole thing makes me feel more stressed. The the other day I got an insight to look at my life like an ecological habitat: i.e. it isn’t about the number of things you put in, it’s more about what I give out to the world and what I get back, from each activity. E.g. looking after my daughter a gift to the world and what I get back is a big pile of love and joy. Looking at my life this way, is it in balance? What do I need to get more of, in order to put more out? Oh yes, more self care. In other words the more self care I do, the more I can in turn put into all my projects. Yay! I tried this and it worked -I discovered that the more self care I do, the more I am able to put back into the world. Wow! Hope this makes sense to others. It feels massive to me!

  4. Christine Stockelman says:

    This article describes me very well. I only feel worthwhile when I am helping someone else. I struggle with basic self-care especially since I got laid off and am not working and therefore don’t have a schedule.

    • Hi Christine…Remember the oxygen mask theory Christine! when you look after you are in a healthier position to look after other people.

  5. Hi Ed!
    That’s great you ordered Untapped Brilliance! hope you are enjoying it.
    Dr Amen’s book ‘Healing ADD’ is fascinating isn’t it?
    You are right you don’t need to be ‘perfect’ in fact I find that perfection is a bit boring and definitely over rated!!!

  6. Ed says:

    My conviction is that the portal to ADD healing is awareness. I look forward to getting Jacqui’s paperback just ordered. It will be second book on the subject I (will have) read. The first…to date the most important and life changing…was “Healing ADD” by Daniel Amen. The correlation of ADD response to psychotropic drugs is controversial…I would not do that myself. But the connection between activity/over activity of well- defined parts of the brain (prefrontal cortex for example) is compelling and fascinating. The miracle of the human mind is that part that oversees the rest and says without judgement “hmmm there’s a problem here let’s fix that.” Awareness is the catalyst of plasticity.
    The battle is never over but it gets much better. The negative self image and ugly memories remain in their storage place and still surface on occasion with the old destructive force…I want to die, if only I had a suspension bridge in the backyard. But when I wake up, everything is in perspective again. My many responsibilities are my safe haven and I can only carry them out if I am well. I learned that the love I feel deprived of certainly in part because I have been a little weird all my life…how costly ADD has been…is vey much made up for by knowing that there are children who count on me and that a good outcome for them is important to me at a visceral level. My motto for many years was this ” if I were organized I would be dangerous.” Well, baby, there has been a partial fulfillment of that promise to myself and it feels good. You don’t have to perfect. A little goes a long way. Good luck and best regards to all and many thanks to Jacqui for her weekly newsletter.

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