Managing both ADHD and depression has made me more attentive about my own mind/body connection. My mental health is affected by the condition that I keep my physical body in, and it’s really important for me to acknowledge that.
One of the ways I try to treat my body a little better is by establishing better routines — having these structures helps me stay on task with healthier habits. For example, in the past, “bedtime” was whenever my head finally hit the pillow.
Now, it’s an actual time, and it’s the same time every night (and before you ask, yes, sometimes I stay up past my own self-appointed bedtime. I’m trying here). After a while on my new bedtime routine and going to sleep at the same time every night, I realized how much better I felt overall.
I also realized that applying a routine to other parts of my day — specifically, mornings — could make my life much, much easier. Mornings have always been a time of high anxiety for me — even with a better sleep schedule, it’s hard for me to get up and going right away.
My ADHD can make transitions challenging, so mornings are especially tricky. Part of the reason that routine is so wonderful is that it takes some of the guesswork out of each day.
Having an established routine means that I have a rhythm that will help me acclimate to the day before I have to interact with others. This can make all the difference in my mood.
I have found that for me, it’s important to start my day off peacefully, without making a bunch of huge decisions first thing in the morning. Here are a few things that have helped me create — and stick to — a healthy morning routine.
Avoid your phone for (at least) the first 30 minutes of your day
Smartphones and other electronics can be overstimulating, to say the least. We spend the majority of our days tethered to them. “Plugging in” right away after waking up can be a real time suck and can derail your entire routine.
What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for your day — I can’t stress this enough! If you find yourself checking email and other notifications first thing, your day will begin with you scrambling to meet those demands, creating unnecessary stress.
Give yourself the gift of time each morning and focus only on what you need to do in that moment. The emails, texts, and social feeds will all be there later.
Include something that makes you feel happy
Do you love snuggling with your pet? Does having something new to read make you happy? Are you a fan of meditation? We live in a super busy world. At times it can be overwhelming. Set the tone for your day by finding something that makes you feel good.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Do you know what mine is? Tea. A cup of tea makes me happy and helps me to start my day off right.
I have an electric teakettle that turns off automatically when the water is ready. This makes it easy for me to make a quick cup of tea to grab on my way out the door, without having to monitor the stovetop.
Remember to eat something
Probably anyone with ADHD can tell you it’s entirely possible to forget to eat in the morning and wonder why you feel like a zombie by late afternoon. I often don’t feel hungry in the mornings, but I make it a point to eat something even if it’s just a tiny snack.
Having something to eat in the mornings helps keep my energy levels high so I can focus on the things I need to get done.
Switch it up when you need to
The downside of routines, though, are that they can get a bit… routine.
For people with ADHD, we tend to fall out of love with things when they’re no longer stimulating and exciting to us. That’s perfectly normal, and you shouldn’t be afraid of that.
When your routine begins to feel a little mundane and stale, that’s the time that you need to begin innovating and making more variety pop into your routine.
Maybe do things in a different order if that makes sense, take a different route to work or school, or maybe add some music to the background while you get ready.
The takeaway: Routines are just one part of the equation
Is a morning routine a cure-all for your ADHD struggles? No, of course not. You still need to work with your doctors and mental health professionals to create a plan that works for you.
But a morning routine can give you something constant that you can return to each day and help you to feel grounded. It can make you feel prepared and ready to face the day, which can make all the difference in the world.
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00054 MAY 2019