“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

I use these stress-relieving strategies – from breathwork and EFT tapping to mindfulness exercises and laughter – to quickly reduce anxiety and improve my emotional regulation.

ADHD emotions are not only unstable and mercurial; they overlap, butt heads, and fight for our attention. Those of us with ADHD can feel a dozen emotions in an afternoon. We can also feel immature, out of control, and ashamed at the same time. The fight to rein in our emotions is emotionally and physically exhausting; it also chips away at our self-worth and overall well-being.

Over time, I have developed several tools to address this by reducing my restlessness, agitation, impatience, and explosive anger (to name a few emotional challenges). Along the way, my relationships, career, and friendships have benefited as well.

The next time your blood boils or your tears flow, try one (or all) of the following micro-techniques – which take just a few minutes — to calm down.

How to Calm Down: ADHD Emotional Dysregulation Strategies

1. Breathwork. A few moments of focused, deep breathing each day will calm the mind and body. Here are my favorite breathwork exercises, visualizations, and prompts.

  • Breathe in like you are smelling a bouquet of fresh flowers and release as if you are blowing out candles.
  • Imagine your breaths are like waves in the sea, ebbing and flowing.
  • Picture yourself breathing in healing light and then blowing out that same light. Imagine that healing light overflowing past your lungs and through your whole body.
  • Set a timer for four minutes. In that time, breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breath out through the nose for four counts, then repeat.

When we focus on our breathing, it shifts our train of thought, which may be feeding into a negative emotion. If you struggle to stay present and quiet your mind, try repeating simple phrases in your head while you are breathing, like “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.”

Breathwork exercises work best when they’re practiced every hour. Set alerts on your phone or clock to remind you.

2. Perform this five senses mindfulness exercise by naming…

  • Five things you can see
  • The farthest and closest sounds you can hear
  • Something you can smell (A candle? Your deodorant? Clothes?)
  • The taste in your mouth
  • How your body feels

3. EFT tapping is the practice of using your fingers to tap across points of the body to decrease stress and negative emotions. (I find tapping easier than meditating because I don’t need to focus on quieting my mind.) I tap for a few minutes in the morning while repeating positive affirmations. I also tap in the shower, on a walk, and in the car. When I feel off, I set aside about 20 minutes to tap. Here’s a video of me doing a simple tapping and breathing exercise.

4. Give yourself a quick hand massage. Research on patients undergoing medical procedures shows that hand massages may help reduce anxiety. 1 2 Try applying pressure to the Heart 7 (HT7) point, the area just below the crease of your wrist on your outer hand, for relief. 3

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