Climbing Out of The Rabbit Hole When You Have ADHD

A while back I posted an article on overthinking that was inspired by working with some amazing people in my ADHD Meet up Group. Join us sometime we connect, talk, and share tools and strategies for all things ADHD. (Link to meet up).  We had a very rich conversation around overthinking and rumination and the impact it has on ones life and achieving goals.  

We discovered that....

Many of us struggle with some kind of constant inner chatter or cognitive hyperactivity… 

And that ....All overthinking is not bad… sometimes we are curious, generating new thoughts or ideas, questioning, or problem-solving in creative ways.  

 

Many times overthinking or rumination is negative.... which leads us down a road we do not want to go.  It wreaks havoc on our lives and relationships....

When we are caught in this thinking trap we end up feeling more anxious and overwhelmed.  We feel angry and it steals our joy and happiness… leads to lost productivity which brings us feelings of shame and guilt.  It keeps us stuck and not moving forward towards our goals.  When this happens, we are officially in the rabbit hole!

 

My first article on overthinking (link here) talked more about what the destructive kind of overthinking looks like, strategies, and tools to prevent ourselves from going down that path.

 

But what happens when you find yourself in the hole already?  If we stumbled and fell in without quite realizing it?  What can we do to pull ourselves out of it?

 

Having some go-to tools to help pull yourself out when you find yourself in the rumination hole is a powerful self management strategy. 

 

What helps when you find yourself in the hole?  Here are some strategies that I have pulled together based on what we discussed in the Meet up (link).  Use these tools to help you take control of your thinking….  

 

Do anything to get out of your head….

  • Move the body and your mind will follow.  Get into physical action - do anything.  walk, bike, hike, get to the gym.  Go in your yard and do jumping jacks... anything to move.
  • Limit your free time. Add some structure to your day with things you can look forward to.  For me overthinking is worse when I have less stuff to do.  The brain needs to be occupied! 
  • Change your environment.  This can shift your whole attitude or perspective.  Any change in your environment or routine mixes things up a bit and forces you out of your head.  Leave your house if you are at home, head home if you are at work, or sit in a coffee shop - are just a few ideas to get you thinking on what might be right for you.

Distraction yourself from it!  

  • When you find yourself in the trap of overthinking, look for a pleasant distraction.  This could be anything that shifts your mind or focus.  

For example, I love to clean out closets!  I love the instant gratification that it gives me when it's done (dopamine hit) and it occupies my mind as I have to think about what I am doing rather than what's in my thoughts.  

Know what type of distraction you can use to shift your mind or thoughts.  This may be getting outside and gardening, it may be an adult coloring book or doing crosswords.  My new passion is Wordle (although it's a short distraction sometimes that is enough).

  • Focus on a Goal!  Get busy, make it one you are enjoying.  Plan your next vacation or new paint color for the bedroom.  Get your mind on it and it will move away from the negativity.
  • Connect with people! Being with family or friends can also help distract you and help you to focus on something else.  Focus on their struggle instead!

 

 

Allow the worry hour. Use a timer and just allow yourself this scheduled time to worry, think, overthink, or whatever it is your brain needs to focus on.  Although limiting it to less than an hour would be better, start where you need to.  Make sure you use the time and move out of it when you are done.  When we schedule it this way often we can keep boundaries around it.

 

Actively process through it.  Contact a friend or family member and process some of your thinking.  Write it down and do a brain dump with the intention of letting it go when you're done.  Add anything that helps you feel you are resolving it.. Actions steps or something else………

 

Leave a notebook by your bed and do a gratitude list.  Research shows that thinking about and connecting with the things we are truly grateful for shifts our mindset, attitudes, and brain chemistry.   Those who are engaged in grateful thinking are more likely to experience joy and happiness.

 

Breathwork and meditations (I know they are scary words!) But there are so many easy apps for both meditations and breathwork - check youtube for tons of free ones. Breathwork can change the chemistry in your brain and body.  It can literally shift your biology! This can help us to move out of whatever negative mindset has taken over just by changing our chemistry.

 

Consider needs.  If you find yourself in this place often with certain patterned thinking, consider what needs are not being met that might be contributing.  If it's a need for stimulation as can be the case with anyone with ADHD (usually a dopamine deficit) then consider how you need to support your brain.  Either through lifestyle changes like exercise, diet, being outdoors more, medication, therapy, or working with a coach to manage the ADHD traits and connect more with your strengths and values.   Let's connect and see how together we can help you move onward and upward to the life you want! (click here to schedule a consultation)

 

This Poem resonated strongly with me when I was working on my own rumination and overthinking that I wanted to share it here again.....enjoy..

 

I wish you a blessed day and life!

All the love,

Annamarie

Portia Nelson, There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.

I am lost ... I am hopeless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again.

I can't believe I'm in the same place. But it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there.

I still fall in ... it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

 

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson

 

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