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ADHD & The Pandemic

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Despite the many negative effects of the pandemic, there are many positive takeaways that one can learn from the “pause effect” that the whole world has been witnessing and experiencing at the moment. These strategies can help us to move forward. One could argue that the whole world is on pause right now, a pause that we have never experienced before. However, there are many things that one can learn from this state of events.

In psychology, there is a technique we call “clearing the deck.” This technique involves imagining what your life would be like if you did not have a whole schedule. What would it be like if you did not have a million things to do? What would you actually choose to put back into your life? This pandemic in many ways has given us a chance to redefine our “new normal”. What do we want to keep and what positives have come out of this that we want to continue to apply? Similar to New Year's resolutions, this pandemic has left many of us reflecting on our past, present, and planning for our futures. I would like to encourage you to think about what practices you like that you are currently doing, and what systems you have in place that have been working for you. Think about relationships that you would like to improve moving forward and which ones you might want to change.

This pandemic caused many of us to reflect on how we create our life moving forward. This is a unique opportunity that I hope many can take advantage of. Often you hear people advise you to “clear out your closet.” We can utilize the same framework in our life currently. Using the term “clearing out the closet,” we can ask ourselves what we would like to take out, as well as what we want to invite in or add. This pandemic has made us all really think about what is important to us. Some of us may have developed better ways to manage their ADHD. Working from home during this pandemic has enabled many individuals with ADHD to move around and take breaks whenever needed. It has also offered the opportunity to start work earlier or later in some cases. On the opposite side, others are struggling due to the loss of structure. If this is the case for you, please think about what it has been like for you to lose that structure. What structure have you found helpful in the past? What is working for you or is not working for you at the moment? These questions can help us draft and build an action plan for moving forward.

During this “clearing the closet” exercise, we usually take a look at what is important to us. This includes what we want to be removed and/or put back into our lives. Do we really enjoy that fitness class or spending time with a certain person? Do we want to try different activities every single night? Who has reached out to you in times of stress and who do you really enjoy talking to? Who you are less excited to speak to? What activities do you look at today that you are really not as excited about or do not want to participate in anymore. This is the time to make a choice.

Blurred image symbolizing the heightened stress and emotional impact of the pandemic on individuals with ADHD, highlighting the unique challenges faced during these uncertain times

During this opportunity to “clear the closet,” allow yourself to think about what you want your future to look like. One strategy to help us visualize this is called the wheel of life. In the wheel of life, we write down different categories to separate the things in our lives that we feel are important. Whether it’s family, faith, health, managing ADHD, or significant others; use colors to highlight how happy you are in each area. For example, if you are happy with your exercise routine you would color in the whole piece of that pie. If you have finances that you are not satisfied with you might only color in a small part of that piece specifically.

The purpose of this exercise is to give you a visual guide of how you view your life. Many people with ADHD perform better with visual cues. It can give you a snapshot of how you see your life right now and provide you with an opportunity to see which areas you want to improve or focus on. Some example categories are as follows: Family, Faith, Finances, Health, Social Relationships, Significant Others, managing ADHD, Exercise Routines, etc.


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