Meditation’s Impact on ADHD: How It Can Help & Tips

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) makes focusing on tasks tough. Sure, medicine can help, but it’s not the only solution. A helpful method that you might not know about is meditation. One type of meditation, called mindfulness, is especially good for ADHD.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is all about observing your thoughts and feelings in the moment. It’s a good thing to try because you don’t need a doctor’s note, and you can do it anywhere. You can meditate while sitting, walking, or even doing yoga.

Meditation is like exercise for your brain (1). Just like you can strengthen weak muscles, you can train your brain to control your focus better. This training can make you more aware of what’s going on around you and help stop you from making impulsive decisions.

Brief mindfulness meditation training for ADHD

Mindful interventions (MBIs) are frequently applied to decrease anxiety and depression and improve physical wellness (2). The most common therapies are mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness meditative techniques (3). 

Meditation can be very beneficial for overcoming anxiety and depression. It was shown that ADHD improves the mental and physical well-being of people who are prone to depression, anxiety, and depression. It increases children’s performance in executive functions like paying attention, organizing self-monitoring, and controlling emotions.

Rationale for mindfulness-based treatment for adults diagnosed with ADHD

Studies in a group of non-ADHD samples suggest the effectiveness of mindfulness training in the treatment of ADHD in a number of ways. Mindfulness meditation practices are focused on one object (like breathing) and returning to it if one becomes distracted. It is a proposed way to increase attention control ability (4).

Studies show that meditation can help with ADHD. For example, a big study at UCLA found that people with ADHD who meditated once a week and then practiced at home every day were better at focusing (5). They also felt less sad and worried.

Another type of meditation called yoga can also help, especially for kids with ADHD (6).

Meditation techniques for people with ADHD

While the symptoms of ADHD, such as restlessness, might initially make meditation seem daunting, employing certain techniques can enhance the experience.

Grounding techniques

Prior to meditating, grounding oneself helps maintain focus. This can be achieved by observing the physical environment around you—feeling the firmness of the surface you’re sitting on or the sensation of warm water when washing your hands.

Observing your thoughts

During meditation, the mind may wander. Instead of getting frustrated, understanding that wandering thoughts are an inevitable part of the process is crucial. The act of acknowledging these thoughts is an indication that you are indeed learning to meditate.

Body scan

To manage restlessness, one can conduct a ‘body scan’ to identify and concentrate on the area where the restlessness is most noticeable.

Redirecting your thoughts

When thoughts drift, gently usher your focus back to your breath, your body, or an object in your room.

Supplementary strategies

In conjunction with meditation, adopting certain practices can further aid in managing ADHD:

  • Mindful Activities: Incorporating mindfulness into everyday tasks fosters a stronger connection with the present moment.
  • Journaling: Documenting your experiences and thoughts can provide insights into your mental patterns.
  • Physical Exercise: Activities such as yoga and tai chi promote an awareness of breath and body.
  • Digital Detox: Minimizing phone use and social media exposure can reduce distractions.

Deep breathing exercises are also effective. By slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, you can mitigate the anxiety often associated with ADHD.

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An ADHD checklist

This checklist comes from Epidemic Answers, a nonprofit organization focused on reversing the childhood epidemics of autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies, and more.

  • Make sure your little one gets plenty of sleep, stays active, and drinks loads of water. It’s like charging their super batteries!
  • Aim to avoid those sneaky processed foods and think about reducing added sugars, gluten, and dairy from their meals.
  • Don’t forget to include lots of good fats. They’re like secret power-ups for their health.
  • Try to sidestep vegetable oils. We want to avoid these little health gremlins.
  • Power up their meals with high-quality protein. It’s like adding turbo boosters to their energy levels.
  • Consider using digestive aids as friendly helpers for their tummy.
  • Time for a treasure hunt! Look for and eliminate any hidden toxins in your home.
  • If in doubt, consider getting lab tests done. It’s like getting a detailed map of their health.
  • Add in some fermented food and daily probiotics. They’re like the good guys keeping their tummies happy.
  • Use herbs, essential oils, and supplements, but talk to a healthcare professional first. They’re like the expert guides on this health adventure.
  • Think about doing a detox. It’s like hitting the reset button on their health.
  • If needed, a myofunctional dentist or orthodontist can be like their health superheroes, ready to swoop in and help.
  • A team of specialists can provide additional support for your child’s health journey, like a team of sidekicks. Check out the website for a list.
  • Use sensory therapies and tools. They’re like special gadgets to help them navigate their day.

Learn more about ADHD paralysis and the best apps that can help you and your loved ones in managing ADHD.

Summary

While ADHD may pose daily challenges, mindfulness meditation provides a promising solution. This easy-to-incorporate practice can improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance emotional regulation. Taking just a few minutes each day to meditate could lead to significant improvements in managing ADHD. Why not give it a shot?

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Anthony20Cardillo MD NYU

Medical reviewed by Anthony Cardillo, MD

American Board of Pathology, Board Certified in Clinical Pathology

Anthony20Cardillo MD NYU

Medical reviewed by Anthony Cardillo, MD

American Board of Pathology, Board Certified in Clinical Pathology

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