ADD and Anxiety

July 11, 2014 by

I don’t have any statistics about what percentage of people with ADD experience high levels of anxiety.  I do know that, when ADD is present, other things, such as anxiety, are often present as well.  In my own coaching practice, I can say that anxiety is a problem for most of my clients a lot of the time.  In this Friday Focus, I want to provide some strategies for managing anxiety because, if anxiety rises beyond a mild level, it interferes with performance and “quality of life.”

One of the best strategies for reducing anxiety is to stop time-travelling.  Here is an example of time-travelling.  You are at work having a conversation with a colleague.  All of a sudden, your mind travels back to the argument you had with your teenager last night and you regret something you said.  Then your mind travels forward to the wallet-busting repair bill you will have to pay if the sound you noticed in your car this morning  turns out to be anything serious.  Back and forth your mind goes, past to future, future to past.  You spend the whole day regretting the past, worrying about the future, and missing the present.  The regret and the worry do not resolve any problems, but they do take a serious toll on your health, well-being, and productivity.

When you notice your mind wandering back to the past or forward to the future, pull it back gently to what you are doing in the present moment, as you would a straying child.  As you refocus completely on just the present moment, the regret and worry disappear.  Notice the relief you feel.  This requires awareness.  You have to observe and notice when your mind drifts into a different time zone, but, as with anything, you improve with practice.

Another strategy for reducing anxiety is to begin today to tackle the things you have been procrastinating.  Tasks do not disappear because you “put them on hold.”  Each one takes up space in your mind.   A large backlog of uncompleted tasks can result in a surprisingly high level of anxiety.  Make a list of items that are backlogged.  Find someone who will hold you accountable to do a little each day until you polish off the list.  How good it feels when the anxiety meter falls!

Finally, when anxiety is very high, medication is an option.  You can discuss this with a doctor who has experience treating people with moderate to severe anxiety.

There are many things you can do reduce anxiety.  Rate your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10.  Try any of the above strategies or  a combination of strategies.  Rate your anxiety again.  Notice the difference.  You are not at the mercy of your anxiety.  You have many tools at your disposal for reducing it.