Balancing Work Stress and Recovery with ADHD

Are you one of the women with ADHD who, despite lousy executive functions always seems to be appointed project manager at work? Do you go “all in” in anything from gardening to Excel filing or studies? Do you end up being involved in so many different projects, and spend all your energy joggling different balls that your weekends are all about lying on the sofa trying to recover some strength and sanity before it starts all over again Monday morning? Maybe you are one of many adult women with ADHD that already have suffered multiple episodes of burnout and know you are heading there again but just can’t stop yourself? You are not alone!

Stress can be a positive thing and many of our Letterlife ADHD-ers tell us that they need an element of stress to get shit done. But stress can also become an all-present, all-consuming toxic feeling leaving you paralyzed and burnt out. Obviously, we all experience stress at different levels and parts of our lives; it’s an inevitable part of being human. But maybe it has become such a huge part of your ADHD-life that it’s just not sustainable anymore?

A Neurodiverse life

Many of our Letterlife users testify that an ADHD-life can be a life full of joggling things that neurotypicals take for granted. And many say that, depending on their ADHD-profile and hormonal status it might be difficult to OVERVIEW everything that needs to be done, REGULATE emotions, appetite or energy, FILTER out sensory stimuli and SHIFT focus when getting distracted. These problems often result in an energy leakage every going on every minute of every day without anyone around them noticing it. They say that its often not until they close the door behind them at home, that their ADHD-brain can recharge and regroup. And it makes sense right? Because if you struggle structuring, organizing, and prioritizing everyday activities you may have to devote enormous amount of energy just to get through a regular day. Maybe you bring your work home to catch up and miss the opportunity to recover while your off work.

Therefore, neurodivergent ADHD-brains face an academic- and working life designed for neurotypical people. The risks? A mismatch between external demands and internal skills that trigger a downward spiral that, at worst, ends in total exhaustion and burnout. 

Importantly to remember, this typically has nothing to do with intelligence but everything to do with executive functions! This is why so many neurodivergent people can perform so fantastic while function so terrible!

But is it possible to break the viscous cycle and start living and working in harmony with your ADHD-brain? Is it possible to learn from our mistakes and embrace a growth mindset where challenges and setbacks are opportunities instead of disasters? We certainly believe so! Here are some simple lifehacks from our Letterlife-users letting us know that balance between work stress and recovery is an ongoing process!

Overview!

When you face a big and complex task try mapping out as many of the different aspects of the task as possible on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Be creative and overinclusive at this stage to make sure everything is in the picture before you attack the project.

Break it down!

Use your paper or whiteboard mind map to divide the project into different smaller entities. Make a timeline and try to group things that are associated in time, place, or activity into the same groups. Use different colors for different themes.

Prioritize!

When you look at the different categories one by one are you sure that all the different parts of this project are your primary responsibility? If yes, identify the most important tasks and put them on top of your Traffic-Light-List. Draw a list with three different columns!

Column 1: Green light – Put everything you need to do today here.

Column 2: Orange light – Put all the things that could be done tomorrow or later this week here.

Column 3: Red light – Put all the things that you don’t even know if they are your responsibility and that would do good from some more time to mature here.

Let us know what you think about this blog, keep up the good work and remember to get time to recover!

/Team Letterlife

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