This article by clinical psychologist Dr. Adeel Sarwar discusses the benefits of mindfulness techniques in managing ADHD symptoms.
Do you often find it hard to stay focused, concentrate on tasks, and manage your emotions effectively due to your ADHD symptoms? If so, you are not alone. However, there is a solution – mindfulness techniques. Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily life can lengthen your attention span, reduce stress levels, enhance emotional regulation skills, and boost overall well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore some helpful mindfulness techniques specifically tailored to individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Mindfulness-Based Interventions for ADHD: Evidence-Based Approach
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature, mindfulness-based interventions significantly decreased symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. (1)
These interventions typically involve instruction in mindfulness meditation, which entails focusing attention on the present moment and paying attention to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations without judgment.
One study found that a group mindfulness intervention consisting of eight weekly 2.5-hour sessions led to significant reductions in ADHD symptoms compared to a control group. (2) Participants in the study reported improvements in executive functioning (e.g., planning, organization, and time management skills), as well as reductions in stress levels and parent-reported behavioral problems.
Another study found that a briefer intervention consisting of four weekly 1.5-hour sessions was also effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. (3) This study also found that the benefits were maintained at a 3-month follow-up.
Mindfulness Techniques for ADHD: Practical Tips
To help you manage the symptoms of ADHD, try some of the mindfulness techniques listed below.
Mindful Breathing: This technique can help you focus and calm your mind. To accomplish this, locate a cozy spot to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and take a few long, deep breaths. After completing this, concentrate your attention on your breath. Pay close attention to how your body feels as you inhale and exhale. Return your attention to your breath if you find your thoughts straying.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. Start by tensing the muscles in your toes for a count of 10. Then relax the muscles for a count of 10. Continue this process, working through the different muscle groups in the body until you reach the muscles in your face.
Guided Imagery: This technique involves picturing peaceful and calming scenes in your mind. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place, such as a beach or forest. If you start to feel anxious or stressed, bring your focus back to your peaceful place.
Using mindfulness in daily life
There are many ways to engage in mindfulness, but here are a few straightforward exercises that can get you started.
- Concentrate on the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits your body.
- Observe how each breath causes your belly and chest to rise and fall and pay attention to how the hues, sounds, aromas, tastes, and textures vary from second to second.
- Keep your mind from wandering or daydreaming, and be present in the moment.
- Pay attention to the present moment and embrace reality as it is.
- Avoid attempting to overcome reality or wishing things were different from how they are.
About the Author: Dr. Adeel Sarwar is a clinical psychologist who specializes in ADHD and currently consulting for an ADHD start-up called ADHDtest.ai.
- Mitchell, J. T., & McIntyre, E. M. (2019). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mindfulness meditation: A systematic review of mindfulness meditation interventions for the treatment of ADHD. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(11), 2945-2959.
- Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D. L., Yang, M. H., Futrell, J. L., Horton, N. L., Hale, T. S., … & Smalley, S. L. (2008). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 737-746.
- Mitchell, J. T., McIntyre, E. M., English, J. S., Dennis, M. F., Beckham, J. C., & Kollins, S. H. (2019). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotion dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(1), 57-68.
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