ADD and Self Care

Taking Care of Ourselves

Self care is an important part of staying healthy. Photo © Microsoft

ADD and Tips for Good Self Care

Taking care of ourselves: This sounds so basic, so simple, but many of us neglect this important notion. Our days are busy. Responsibilities are pulling us in so many different directions. If something has to give, our self care is usually the first to go...but it really shouldn’t be.

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD, psychotherapist, ADHD coach, and author of "10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction & Accomplish Your Goals" and "Making the Grade with ADD: A Student's Guide to Succeeding in College with Attention Deficit Disorder," notes that self care is important for everyone, but it is especially important for those with ADHD.

When we have ADHD, “we tend to overlook what our bodies and minds need due to distraction and hyperfocusing,” says Dr. Sarkis. “Your health and self-care come first -- without those, other aspects of life are even more of a challenge.”

Dr. Sarkis uses a simple analogy to explain. “Flight attendants instruct you that in the event of an emergency, you need to put on your oxygen mask before you put on your child's mask -- therefore, you need to take care of yourself before you can effectively take care of anyone else.”

Simple Tips for Practicing Good Self Care:

Dr. Sarkis offers some easy ways to take care of yourself.
  • Eat at Regular Intervals, and Always Carry Snacks with You. When people with ADHD are hyperfocused on something, they can forget to eat. Not having enough fuel in your system can lead to low blood sugar levels.
  • Get at Least 7 to 8 hours of Quality Sleep Every Night. Sleep difficulties can be quite common in people with ADHD, and chronic sleep deprivation can make it even more difficult for you to focus. See your doctor if you are experiencing chronic sleep difficulties.
  • Cut Refined Sugars Out of Your Diet. Consuming sugar can lead to a rapid depletion of energy, or "crashing."
  • Exercise for at Least 30 Minutes Every Morning. People with ADHD have a low level of a brain chemical called dopamine, and exercise increases dopamine. Exercise also helps you get a good night's rest. Consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
  • Practice Optimism. Studies have shown that people who practice positive thinking are happier overall and tend to have better health.

Sarkis, Stephanie Moulton. Email correspondence. 03, Jan. 2008.

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