Transitions, Structure, and ADHD

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I’ve often written about how children with ADHD have a difficult time with transitions, and how they benefit from having some structure in their lives. The same is true when you are an adult with ADHD. We need structure in our lives, too, and we have a hard time making transitions. (Don’t think so? How easy is it for you to turn your brain off at night and go to sleep?)

I’m struggling with both of these issues myself right now. When my husband was laid off, the daily routine and structure in our lives changed drastically. I went to work upstairs in my office when he left for work. Now, with him at home, it’s been more difficult for me to stick to my routine.

I’ve realized, though, that without structure and a routine in place, things don’t get done the way they should. Life is more haphazard, sort of hit and miss.

Making the transition from having a husband at work to one who is laid off has been stressful, too, and not only because of the financial aspect. The fact that he is laid off opens up the possibility that he could be transferred somewhere else, and that thought is both exciting and terrifying.

Change can be hard for anyone, but I think that when you have Attention Deficit Disorder, it’s even harder. We seem to have more unpredictable things going on in our lives than most, and the last thing we need is for things we relied on to change.

I’ve learned a few things over the last months that have helped me deal with the lack of structure in my life, as well as the changes.

When you feel like your life has been put into a blender on high speed, you need some things to rely on that can comfort you. You need to find time and space to gather yourself together again. For me, I meditate, do yoga, create in my journal, and go to the gym. Sometimes I have a cup of herb tea.

You also need to put some routines in place, or pay more attention to the ones you already have. There can be great comfort in doing things as you always have done, especially in the midst of chaos. Routines can not only bring structure to your life, they can bring a sense of calm.

I know that routines and habits can be hard for those of us with ADHD to stick to. The easiest way to make something a habit is to tie it to something you already do automatically. You’re sort of building on what you already do. Start with just one thing at a time, and take baby steps if you have to.

For instance, when my husband was working, we would have lunch together. Then he would leave for work, and I would go upstairs to my office to work. He’s home now, so he doesn’t leave for work, but we still eat lunch every day. So my routine has changed a little, and is tied to something I already do – after I have lunch, I go upstairs to my office and work.

I’ve also found that planning ahead and preparing for an anticipated change can help me feel better about it. Right now, for instance, we are working on cleaning and fixing up the house, in case we have to sell it. It keeps me busy, helps me feel prepared and more in control, and I get the benefit of a beautiful, clean home, even if I don’t have to move.

Maybe your life isn’t as chaotic as mine is right now (lucky you), but we all go through transitions in our lives, big and small. Change is a part of life, and we need to learn to adapt as easily and quickly as we can. Taking good care of yourself and keeping a sense of order where you can will help.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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