Odds are that you know someone affected by ADHD since, according to the CDC, it affects more than six million American children and approximately 4% of the adult population, as reported by The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine.
When it comes to managing this condition, medication may be the norm, but there are other options. Whether you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with ADHD or has had the diagnosis for some time, there is hope for a medication-free life.
In this article, we’ll explore all the options, including medication, behavioral therapy, and meditation for ADHD.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is the acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is an increasingly common behavioral diagnosis for both children and adults. Characteristics include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and an inability to focus.
While ADHD affects mostly children, it can carry over into adulthood and negatively impact work, school, and relationships. Early intervention is key to learning to manage symptoms for long-term success.
Medication and Behavioral Therapy for ADHD
For children over six years old, a prescription to help manage impulsivity and increase focus is common. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are common prescriptions used to treat the symptoms of ADHD.
Behavioral therapy is commonly prescribed alone for children under six years old, but it is often used in conjunction with medication for those over six. This therapy helps a child practice proper social responses and manage their emotions.
While moderately successful, medication combined with behavioral therapy has its shortcomings. For instance, these medications have known short-term side effects such as insomnia, stomach problems, irritability, and headaches, with very little known about the possible long-term effects.
Behavioral therapy is inconvenient as therapy sessions take time away from schoolwork and family time. Both can be expensive.
Meditation for ADHD
Another option for your ADHD management toolbox is meditation. The great news is that if you already see results with medication and behavioral therapy, you don’t have to drop those. However, the positive results associated with ADHD meditation indicate that medications and other therapies, with the approval of your doctor or therapist, may be able to be reduced or eliminated over time.
What Is ADHD Meditation?
Meditation of any kind is simply the practice of learning to become aware of your thoughts and feelings. In doing so, you can learn self-awareness and self-control, which are areas that those with ADHD typically struggle with.
The human brain is an amazing organ that can continue to change throughout a person’s lifetime. Meditation can purposefully and positively change your brain, as meditating for ADHD management thickens the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain involved in planning, focus, and impulse control, which are things an ADHD brain needs more of.
How to Meditate
Meditation doesn’t have to be a complicated activity. Many people have wondered how a person with attention deficit issues could successfully practice meditation since most consider this a sedentary activity. The great news is that ADHD meditation can be practiced sitting, standing, lying down, or even walking—whatever position is comfortable is acceptable.
The goal of meditation for those who struggle with attention deficit is to develop the skills of self-awareness and self-control. Begin by practicing for five minutes a day, and follow these steps:
- Get comfortable: Stand, sit, lie down, do yoga, whatever works for you
- Take slow, even breaths: You may have to train yourself to do this; be patient with yourself, and focus on how breathing in and out feels
- Play music if you choose: Soothing, instrumental is best to help you slow down and focus
- Choose a focus: a picture, a word, something positive
- Move if you must: The goal is to calm your mind, so if your body must be moving, walking is a good choice
- Be kind to yourself: This is a practice, and progress is the goal, not perfection
- Make it a routine: Just five minutes a day
Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation for the management of ADHD symptoms is incredible. Besides the fact that no prescriptions are required, no therapy appointments are necessary, and meditation is free. Here are a few more benefits.
Meditation increases dopamine levels. This neurotransmitter is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward and is usually lacking in the ADHD brain, hence why many are thrill-seekers.
Stress levels are lowered by meditation. Learning to slow down and focus are good habits for everyone, but they’re especially good for those with attention deficit issues since they usually report high levels of stress. Lowering stress levels through meditation can overflow into other areas of life as well.
Those who practice meditation often lose weight. What does meditation have to do with weight loss? It’s believed that meditation empowers a person to practice self-control and self-awareness, thereby empowering a person to control his eating habits.
Meditation can boost self-esteem. Many people who struggle with ADHD tend to be critical of themselves. Learning to meditate can help to control the “noise” and negative voices they allow in their minds.
Another benefit of meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere. A child in a classroom or an adult in a boardroom can take a few deep breaths to refocus their minds on the task at hand.
ADHD Meditation Tips
Start small. As unbelievable as it may seem, five minutes a day is a good starting point. It’s fine to work towards 20-minute meditation sessions but work up to it slowly.
Practice visualization. It can be difficult to stay focused for those new to meditation, and that’s okay. Many suggest visualizing a blue sky filled with clouds. Your goal is to focus on the blue space between the clouds. Each time your mind wanders onto a cloud, refocus on the blue sky.
Consider taking a class. Just like learning any new skill, it can be helpful to get professional training. By joining a class, you’ll experience the support of a group and the positive peer pressure to show up.
Drug-Free Treatment Is Possible
We hope this article has encouraged you that a holistic approach to ADHD is possible. Meditation for ADHD symptoms has shown positive results for many and is another management tool worth considering.
Southern California Sunrise specializes in individualized holistic treatment for ADHD. For more information, contact us through our website or call (866) 523-2250.