Facing another massive credit card bill after your enthusiasm for a new pair of shoes led to a full-on shopping spree? Trying to patch things up with your colleague after you blurted out some less-than-positive feedback on their recent contribution to a work project? Adult ADHD can make impulse control especially challenging, but there are ways to help yourself manage.
As a bright, creative adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you know that your brain works differently. Sometimes it is your superpower, allowing you to get hyper-focused on something you are interested in, or to maintain high levels of energy. In other cases, it can challenge you, like with practicing effective time management or staying engaged with one particular task.
Impulsivity, a characteristic long associated with ADHD, can be both a positive and negative trait. It factors heavily into spontaneity, and can lead to a certain fearlessness with new experiences that allows you to joyfully explore uncharted paths in life. However, it can also create difficulties when important decisions are made without enough careful thought, or professional tasks are left unfinished. Learning how to work with impulsivity allows you to maximize its positive aspects and minimise those that can make problems in your personal or professional life.
Challenges with ADHD and Impulsiveness
Impulsivity affects a person’s ability to consistently engage with something, and lowers inhibitions. The combination of these factors can lead to a variety of behaviours that may be problematic, including:
- Making snap decisions or taking action without forethought
- Being loud vocally, or in your actions
Being overly energetic, to the point of being out of control
- Demanding immediate gratification
- Walking away from work or other important projects before they are finished
- Engaging in risky actions, like overspending or gambling
When your natural urge to action leads to unintended and unfortunate consequences, it can feel frustrating, even defeating. Like other symptoms of ADHD however, with the right tools, impulsivity can be managed.
Managing ADHD Related Impulsiveness
Tip 1: Identify the Problems that Impulsivity Causes
It is understandable to feel bad when a knee-jerk reaction to something sparks a problem that you didn’t intend to cause. However, this is also a constructive moment to dig deeper into the challenging side of your impulsivity and begin to strategise on how to manage it. When a moment like this occurs, take a minute and jot down what happened. Think about what you would have preferred to do instead, and what you may need to do differently in order to achieve that. Going through this exercise can help you notice any patterns related to your impulsiveness, and give you clues on how to address it.
Tip 2: Build in a Pause Before Speaking
Stuck with another massive bill because you announced to the whole group that dinner was on you? Trying to backtrack after you told your boss that you thought their idea was “completely crazy” in a staff meeting? The ADHD brain is always primed for action, and so part of managing impulsivity is developing ways to try to slow down those rapid-fire responses that may not correspond with your longer-term aims. Not sure how? Here are a few suggestions:
- Paraphrase what someone said to you before you begin answering, like “Oh, so you would like me to share my thoughts on your latest project idea?”
- Put a finger over your lips, or deeply exhale while saying “hmmm” – these are cues that you are thinking about a response, and also allow you a few seconds to engage other parts of your brain before you answer
- If you’re in danger of blurting out, imagine sealing your lips or rub your mouth with your hand to physically remind yourself to be quiet
Building in a pause is essentially about developing a habit to help slow your response in specific situations where you have identified that impulsiveness is a challenge. With time and practice, this will feel more natural.
Tip 3: Envision the Future
The ADHD brain thrives on stimulation, and you are well aware that many ongoing projects fail to captivate your interest over the long-term. This can result in projects remaining unfinished, missed deadlines, and potential tension with colleagues.
In order to “hook” your brain, it needs the thrill of excitement or enjoyment. To cultivate this, try to focus on the positive results of finishing the project. How will it make you feel when you finish? How will others react? This is a way of working with your brain’s natural impulses to help achieve what you need to.
Tip 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Multi-Task
Wait a minute—if you are trying to stay focused on the task at hand, won’t multi-tasking make you more distracted? Not necessarily. The ADHD brain thrives on stimulation, and so engaging with multiple tasks simultaneously, or shifting quickly between them, may actually help you to stay on track with whatever you are trying to finish. While it might seem overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have ADHD, leaning into some of the impulsiveness and cleaning the house, listening to music, working on a personal project and writing up that work report may be the way for you to get everything done.
Tip 5: Remember to Allow Calmness In
For some people with ADHD, impulsivity gets more difficult to manage when they are feeling stressed or anxious about something. Taking a moment to check in with yourself and your body and helping yourself relax can positively impact your impulse control. Some commonly suggested relaxation techniques include:
- Regular exercise
- Deep breathing
- Listening to calming music
- Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Getting Additional Support for Managing ADHD Impulsivity
If you have been working on managing your impulsivity, but find yourself still struggling, you may want to consider reaching out for some extra help from a mental health professional. There are a variety of methods of treatment available to help manage symptoms, including impulsivity, and help you work with your brain to achieve what you want.
People with ADHD tend to gain benefit from a range of interventions, which may include things such as psychotherapy, medication, learning new coping mechanisms, and lifestyle changes. Connecting with a support group can also help give you the opportunity to learn and share experiences with a community of people who truly understand where you are coming from.
Gaining Understanding of Adult ADHD at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a mental health retreat in Thailand that offers a wide variety of holistic, effective treatment options all under one roof. We specialise in the treatment of a range of mental health issues, including adult ADHD, and work closely with each one of our clients to develop a personalised plan that suits their specific needs.
ADHD Treatment in Thailand
Located on a lush riverside just outside the beautiful northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, The Dawn is a perfect oasis for healing and self-discovery. Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), The Dawn offers diverse programming led by an experienced, internationally-trained staff.
We believe in comprehensive, holistic care, and so you’ll find yourself participating in various treatment methodologies. During a typical day at The Dawn, you may have both individual and group therapy sessions, a fitness training class, a mindfulness meditation class, and then cap it all off with a relaxing massage. In your downtime, our clients enjoy an array of amenities, including a swimming pool, recreational area, and gym, not to mention an incredible international buffet with foods to satisfy every palate.
Call The Dawn today and learn more about how we can help you get to where you want to be with your ADHD.