Getting started with ADHD & mindfulness
To learn about how mindfulness helped someone with ADHD, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach Stacey Camacho shared one of her client’s journey: a 38-year-old woman diagnosed with ADHD.
Which mindfulness exercises have been particularly beneficial for your client?
My interventions have focused on the practice of mindfulness (focusing on the present moment whilst having an attitude of openness, curiosity and acceptance aka nonjudgmental awareness). She practices formal sitting meditation with a focus on her breath at 5 am in the morning for 20 minutes (she began with one minute a day and worked herself up gradually to 20). She also practices mindfulness informally throughout her workday, for example one minute before a meeting or sending an important email. When feeling highly unfocused and overwhelmed, she practices RAIN: a practice developed by Michele McDonald which is effective when feeling challenged or overwhelmed.
In what way did she benefit from the mindfulness?
She started firstly to notice some of her ADHD symptoms, which she never noticed before, like interrupting a lot during meetings and daydreaming. Once she became more aware of her urge to interrupt, she was able to choose to take a deep breath and listen to another without thoughts, thereby controlling her impulse to interrupt. She still daydreams, but she is able to choose when, so it doesn’t disrupt her day.
Other improvements she reported were:
- Her ability to sustain her attention for longer periods of time, with the ability to tolerate distraction without getting caught up in it, like the sound of her phone
- Her ability to display a more confident and centered presence versus being all over the place and disorganized
- Her ability to follow through
- Her ability to listen better and make fewer mistakes, which improved interactions at work
What I noticed in session is the increase in her emotional intelligence and her ability to identify her emotions and regulate them. She reported this improvement out of session as well: she was getting to truly understand the inner workings of her mind and was less critical and reactive.
To inform us about the practical aspects of mindfulness and how it could help with ADHD, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach Stacey Camacho provided us with comprehensive insights as well as helpful resources.
Does mindfulness require lots of focus and practice?
I believe that mindfulness does not require lots of focus and practice. It does require discipline and consistency just like any other skill. For instance, to train the muscle of the heart medical experts usually suggest 30 minutes of cardio exercise at least 5 days a week. Well, studies have shown that to train the mind one needs 20 minutes of mindfulness practice daily. So, it’s quite similar.
Can mindfulness be fit into a daily routine?
Mindfulness can be practiced during mundane activities, for example eating (Mindfulness of eating), walking (Mindfulness of walking), or just like physical exercise, scheduling two 10-minute sessions per day am and pm. I curtail mindfulness practice to a client’s specific needs and lifestyle. Children love to go to classes and love to do it before bed. Some in the car to school, and some love family mindfulness activities.
Is there a mindfulness exercise that could be beneficial for someone with ADHD?
The Body Scan Meditation during movement (e.g. walking) or stillness (e.g. lying down) is a very effective mindfulness practice for someone struggling with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. It is a component of the successful mindfulness programs used in research. It involves paying full attention to each part of the body including bodily sensations such as the heart rate with openness, warmth, and acceptance (bare attention without judgment). The practice results in a feeling of calm and relaxation in the body, a clearer mind and increases the ability to focus.
You can find an example of a body scan meditation.
Disclaimer: the information contained on this website does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about your own health or the health of someone else, you should speak to your doctor.