Mindfulness is a hot topic everywhere … and for everyone, it seems! Mindfulness has been shown to help with pain, stress, depression, and more! And, did you know that research shows that mindfulness is also beneficial for managing ADHD?
What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of your present moment sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Mindfulness can be as simple as pausing to pay close attention for a moment to what you are sensing, thinking and feeling. People experienced with mindfulness find it can help with ADHD symptoms, emotional reactivity, and stress management. The ability to be mindful can be improved with training and practice.
Here’s a quick summary of three research studies that examined mindfulness training for ADHD – take a look to see the benefits they discovered.
The research findings are followed by some mindfulness tips and resources you can use today!
A 2008 study found teens and adults trained in mindfulness experienced decreased ADHD symptoms, anxiety and depression and improved performance on tests of attention, memory and reasoning (Zylowska et al., 2008).
A 2013 found a strong effect of mindfulness training on ADHD symptom reduction as well as improvement in functional impairment in a majority of training participants. This study also examined and found improvements in self and clinician reported EF (executive functioning) symptoms and self-reported emotional regulation (Mitchell et al., 2013).
A 2014 study found benefits for approximately 30% of mindfulness trainees. As an interesting side-note, greater improvement in symptoms occurred in individuals treated with methylphenidate (stimulant) (Edel et al., 2014).
Other research has examined mindfulness training for young people with ADHD and learning disabilities, finding benefits as well.
Research clearly demonstrates benefits of mindfulness training for management of ADHD symptoms! So what are you waiting for?
WHAT CAN I DO?
1) Here’s a quick exercise you can use any time to increase your mindful awareness in the moment. It’s called the STOP practice and is very useful whenever you might find your mind spinning or when you are feeling a bit out of control. It can also be used just to check-in to see if you are on track with your plans.
S – Stop whatever you are doing for a moment
T – Take a breath, center yourself
O – Observe yourself in the present moment: notice what you are sensing (sounds, sights, your posture), thinking, and feeling
P – Proceed with choice – either continue what you were doing, or make a decision to proceed with something else that is higher priority
Try it! Set an alarm for yourself and do the STOP practice when it rings. What is it like for you?
2) For a number of free mindfulness meditations you can try, check out the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center’s website – some meditations take as little as three minutes to listen to. Select one you like and try it daily for a week. What do you notice?
3) Interested in mindfulness training for yourself or anyone you know? Information about a nine- session tele-class I offer on mindfulness and ADHD can be found here: Mindfulness for ADHD Sign up now to be notified of the next class series and develop your own ability to use mindfulness strategies to manage your ADHD!
4) Want to learn more? Here are some other blog posts you can read on mindfulness and ADHD:
Mindfulness and ADHD: Benefits
ADHD, Mind-wandering and Meta-awareness
Meditation, Mindfulness and Managing ADHD
Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN, ACC
ADHD & Life Coach
Edel, M-A., Holter, T., Wassink, K, & Juckel, G. (10/9/14). A comparison of mindfulness-based group training and skills group training in adults with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders (published online before print).
Mitchell, J.T., McIntyre, E.M. English, J.S. et al. (12/4/13). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotional dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders (published online before print).
Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D.L., Yang, M. H., at al. (2008) Mindfulness meditation in Adults and adolescents with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 237-246.