For many, life now revolves around working from home, home-schooling our children, or coping with the monotony of being at home all day and the pressures and anxiety that can bring. Read our COVID-19 Guide for ADHD Adults here.
For some of us, we also have the added challenge of being required to self-isolate within our own homes, either alone or away from our families to protect them from contracting the virus. Read the HSE guides as to when you should self-isolate here and how to self-isolate here.
So if you are waiting on a test result or if you have received that dreaded positive result but are finding it tough to stay away from everyone, here at ADHD Ireland we wanted to help adults with ADHD to cope with a few tips to help you keep safe and motivated during this difficult time.
1. Protect your mental health
The uncertainty of the situation at the moment, and the fear of what a positive test result can mean for you and your family, can cause undue anxiety and stress – particularly for adults with ADHD, 40% of whom also have comorbid anxiety disorder. It’s important to avoid getting overwhelmed by the situation and to allow yourself to keep control of what you read, hear or see, particularly on social media when you are feeling isolated. Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is the advice from the HSE. You can read up-to-date factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here .
2. Surviving Self-Isolation
According to the HSE, self-isolation – or we prefer “physical-isolation” means staying indoors and completely avoiding any physical contact with other people. You need to do this if you have symptoms of coronavirus or a confirmed diagnosis. This is to stop other people from getting it. The advice from the HSE is very clear; you need to stay physically away from others (even within your own home, where possible). It’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or supplies. Make sure you’re not in the same room as them, when they do. For more information on how to stay safe and healthy, please refer to the HSE website here.
3. Create a routine and stick with it
The key to alleviating anxiety around this new situation, is to try and structure your day. If you are feeling well:
- try to wake up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night; keeping your body in a healthy routine helps to make you feel more in control.
- Shower and dress yourself as if you are going to meet somebody, rather than lounging around in pyjamas and then feeling down and lethargic at the end of your day.
- Eat your meals at regular times and clean up after yourself so that you can feel positive and energetic about your home environment.
- Take what help you need if you are feeling unwell and you have support from family or friends. It is possible for people to drop your meals at your door or to do your shopping for you, even while keeping their distance.
4. Incorporate regular exercise
The physical benefits of daily exercise are well documented, but did you know that exercise boosts your mind and mood as well? Physical activity releases proteins that improve brain function and this is particularly good for those with ADHD. It also promotes more restful, restorative sleep. Exercise isn’t just good for your body; it alleviates anxiety and depression, too. If you are self-isolating due to the risk of exposure to Covid-19 but feeling well yourself, a brisk 15/20-minute walk or a good stretch in the back garden will help make you feel more alert and more focused. There are also lots of apps that can be downloaded free of charge and will give you simple, easy to do at home exercises or why not try the Operation Transformation basic exercises to get you started?
We are all in danger of feeling guilty for not working and studying as usual, and for allowing ourselves to sit down and watch day-time TV! Well, since we are all in this together, why not just… relax! This isn’t going to last forever, and we need to remember that our number one job is to stay safe and protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. Take a break. Particularly if you are self-isolating within a home that you share with family. Don’t worry about stepping away from the hustle and bustle of family life. This is the best choice to protect your family. Stay in a separate room, just sit back and allow yourself to indulge in your favourite TV show or a good book. Enjoy a cuppa and just relax and take care of your health. This time will pass and we will be back to our busy lives before we know it!
6. Stay connected to others
You want to be a good citizen and follow the guidelines of social distancing, especially if self-isolating, but you are starting to find the isolation really difficult? We are social beings and we need human contact to keep us going. There are so many ways with modern technology that you can reach out to friends and family and keep in touch. FaceTime, WhatsApp video calls and Skype are all really great for putting you face to face with those you love and miss, but don’t forget a simple phone call or even send a letter! We are all in this together, so let’s get each other through it, even if it is from a distance.
7. Give yourself a little calm
As adults with ADHD, it can be challenging for us to sit still, stay home and self-isolate. Instead of thinking of this as being “trapped”, why not take some time out of the day to read a book or try meditation. Allow our minds some calmness and quiet. Usually we find ourselves too busy to settle down and read or to try something new like meditation which has proven benefits for those with ADHD. Did you know that meditation actually helps with mental health and strengthening immunity? It is also ideal if you are spending time alone because it is most effective in a quiet, empty space. Download a good app, such as the Headspace app, set a time each day to do it, and get started!
8. Try a new hobby
If you are self-isolating but feeling well and finding the hours dragging while you are alone, this is the perfect time to busy yourself with something new. Is there a hobby you’ve always fancied trying but never had the time? Or do you have a stash of materials in your attic/garage that you’ve had for years and won’t throw away because you plan to get to it “someday”? Well now is your chance. Take this time to enjoy spending time doing something new or learning a new skill, which will give you a great sense of satisfaction. It is one of the upsides of this very tragic circumstance; we have been given something we all claim not to have enough of: time.
Endorsed by the ADHD in Adults National Clinical Programme.
31st March 2020