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Make ADHD Behavior Worse at School and Work?  Add Stress.

25% of people with ADHD suffer from some source of anxiety disorder.  This stress manifests in oppositional behaviors, negativity and meltdowns.  It can thereby be harmful to both physical and emotional health.  Recognizing this situation is the first step in remedying its impact.

People with ADHD often have dysfunction in the right parietal lobe of the brain.  It is responsible for the ability to develop coping strategies in response to stress.  Researchers suggest that this creates greater opportunities for changes in behavior.

Stress affects the behavior of people with ADHD throughout the decision-making process.  They are often irritable and more likely to behave erratically.  Depression and anxiety can make it harder to achieve goals.

  • May be more forgetful.
  • Less inclined to exercise.
  • Take greater risks.
  • Have a hard time resisting junk food.
  • Willing to work hard, even if they don’t necessarily like it more.

School stressors exist based on perceptions.  High school students with ADHD are more likely to be affected.  Having too much homework is one of the top stressors, especially when the assigned tasks are unknown or misunderstood,  Limited social skills are also a significant challenge.  This includes hearing a mean rumor about a friend, being bullied at school, and disagreeing with parents.

Teens with ADHD often struggle in managing emotions.  Stress further aggravates the situation.  Parents and teachers should develop skills by helping them to understand their feelings.  Visual imagery often serves to support their development.

  • Incorporate simple meditation/deep breathing.
  • Encourage peer sharing (co-listening).
  • Take action when you can (empower).
  • Monitor sleep.
  • Keep a sense of humor.

The home provides another developmental resource for stress management techniques.  Keeping the environment as predictable as possible creates feelings of calm.  Slowly introduce spontaneity by them choosing their day-to-day routines.  Teens with ADHD often respond positively with creative strategies such as silent ball, movement to music, and art activities.

College and university students with ADHD encounter additional challenges compared to high school.  Lacking parental support creates greater responsibility for decisions.  More choices, often unguided ones.

  1. Recognize how stress impacts ADHD.
  2. Identify causes of stress.
  3. Practice extreme self-care.
    1. Get hours of sleep
    2. Eat 3 meals/day
    3. Drink lots of water.
  4. Plan ahead for difficult situations.
  5. Listen to your body.
  6. Use physical and emotional strength.

65% of Americans cite work as a top source of stress.  Work stressors are often more impactful for people with ADHD.  Having excessive workloads and the pressure to meet deadlines have corresponding behavioral challenges.  Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations can result in angry dialogues.  It is unclear as to how the lack of support impacts the situation.

One behavioral solution lies in the ability to manage factors that affect stress.  They should track stressors through journaling, recording thoughts/feelings, and identifying toxic people/circumstances.  Developing healthy responses are the key to empowerment.

  • Establish boundaries.
  • Make hobbies and physical activity a part of daily life.
  • Take time to relax and recharge (meditation, sleep).
  • Don’t over-commit yourself.
  • Get support from family or a trusted friend or co-worker.

ADHD, behavior, and stress can create difficult situations.  Fortunately there are stress-management strategies that can be used at home, in school, and at work.  Calmness and balance hold the answer throughout.

If you’re not sure that stress is the cause of behavioral cause, if you’ve taken steps to control, and the symptoms continue, see your doctor.

How do you control stress?

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