Finding Your Body Balance with Mindfulness 

Living with ADHD is often living with difficulties in self-regulation. You may feel that you were born without the luxury of knowing what your gut feeling is telling you. Or having a thousand gut feelings in conflict with each other in every decision you must make. Then Mindfulness could become a good friend of yours.

In such circumstances, it’s no wonder if you struggle with reading your body’s signals and regulating your energy or activity levels. And even handling your emotions or controlling your appetite. 

Listening to and calibrating your body balance may feel like the last thing you have time and energy left for, but don’t stop reading just yet! Above all, it’s important:

Understanding the link between your ADHD and body balance may be one of the most important insights on your ADHD journey.

Because ADHD is not solely a condition that affects our minds. Rather, our bodies are also involved in profound ways even though we are not always aware of it. Indeed, research shows very clearly that ADHD if left undiagnosed or untreated can have many negative effects on our physical health and our bodies 1,2. But don’t you worry, there are ways to connect the two.

Mindfulness – what is it?

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, intentionally and without judgment. Sounds simple? Well, it’s not! 

Especially not if you have ADHD. Mindfulness involves bringing your awareness to your thoughts, feelings, the surrounding environment and bodily sensations.  Mindfulness emphasizes that we shouldn’t try to change or fix things. But rather learn to accept and be with things as they are. And it’s all about bringing a sense of curiosity and openness into the things we experience. 

ADHD and mindfulness – mutually exclusive?

The notion of just leaning into stress, frustration and hopelessness is usually nothing that comes naturally to a modern person of today. ADHD or not. 

Undoubtedly, the mere thought of accepting the chaotic situation you’re in or welcoming the pain or exhaustion you’re experiencing might feel borderline offensive. And still, through regular practice, mindfulness can help us reduce stress, enhance well-being, and cultivate contentment in our lives. 

How is this possible? 

One of the key elements of mindfulness is tuning into your body. If you are anything like me and others with ADHD that I know, you may regularly find yourselves living in your head. Completely disconnected from the physical sensations of your body in the present moment. 

Mindfulness may be a way for us to reconnect with our bodies through simple breathing exercises or check-ins throughout the day. 

ADHD and mindfulness – How do you do it?

Inviting mindfulness into your daily routines doesn’t have to be mission impossible. If you find it hard to establish and sustain new routines over time, maybe try a mindfulness class and harness the power of group support. 

It’s also perfectly allowed to integrate mindfulness into the activities you already do and enjoy. It might be jogging, swimming, taking a sauna or drinking a cup of tea. For someone, the best way of checking in with your body balance is simply pausing to notice three breaths. 

When mindfulness is woven into the fabric of your life in an accessible way. You increase the chances of it becoming something you don’t question but do effortlessly and naturally. 

Lesson number 1 – Don’t set the bar too high! 

Starting small is key. Setting aside just a few minutes each day for a simple mindfulness practice may not sound like a huge thing but it can yield profound benefits over time. If you manage to stick to it! 

Think of mindfulness like a brain muscle, that strengthens with consistent effort and training. The goal is for both body and brain to gradually become more fit and resilient. 

Lesson number 2 – Body balance equals self-compassion

The ADHD brain might be quite fast to reject mindfulness as a waste of time or another thing others tell you, you need to do, but you’ll just fail at. 

Nevertheless, and importantly, mindfulness can teach us the art of self-compassion. 

For those of us living with ADHD, years of struggling with things that others manage without effort, can take a toll on our self-esteem. 

Properly ADHD-adapted mindfulness can then teach us to embrace our strengths and weaknesses with kindness and acceptance. 

The goal is to see and accept our challenges for what they are. Meanwhile, we cultivate a sense of understanding and warmth towards ourselves.

Lesson number 3 – Learning to stay

It may be hard to believe and trust that mindfulness can offer guidance and support in finding your body balance. Especially if you previously have negative experiences of meditation, yoga or exercising being present. 

Nevertheless, by tuning into your body just at the moment when you so desperately would like to be someone or somewhere else. That is the way and time you can break the vicious cycle of being detached from life or separated from your gut feelings. By cultivating awareness of the present moment, how shitty that moment may be, you eventually will spot your body balance and can do something about it! 

Or as it most often turns out, resist doing things to distract yourself and just stay with the feelings you are trying to escape from. Difficult I know, but possible!

So, let’s start calibrating the body balance and build resilience. And create a sense of dignity and calm in the middle of the chaos you may experience.

Instead of evidence-based treatment?

Importantly to remember however, mindfulness is not a treatment for ADHD. 

A meta-analysis3 exploring how effective mindfulness-based interventions were in treating attention deficit symptoms. It suggests limited effectiveness in those only provided with mindfulness practices for ADHD compared with control subjects that were on evidence-based treatment. 

Thus, as so often in life, mindfulness should not be used instead of the well-validated, evidenced-based therapies that are available today. 

Yet many individuals with adequate ADHD treatment find great value in developing a better body balance using ADHD-adapted mindfulness. That gives a better balance in life.

Start small and stay present in the moment, whatever difficult thoughts and feelings arise. One breath at a time!

  1. Franke B, Michelini G, Asherson P, et al. Live fast, die young? A review on the developmental trajectories of ADHD across the lifespan. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018;28(10):1059-88. ↩︎
  2. Barkley RA, Fischer M. Hyperactive Child Syndrome and Estimated Life Expectancy at Young Adult Follow-Up: The Role of ADHD Persistence and Other Potential Predictors. J Atten Disord. 2018 Dec 10:1087054718816164. doi: 10.1177/1087054718816164. ↩︎
  3. Darren L. Dunning, Kirsty Griffiths, Willem Kuyken, Catherine Crane, LucyFoulkes, Jenna Parker, and Tim Dalgleish, “Research Review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2018), doi:10.1111/jcpp.12980. ↩︎
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