by Carey Heller, PsyD
As of today, millions of people in the United States and many parts of the world are on lockdown at home. Their daily routines—work, school, recreation, afterschool activities—and their often-hectic schedules have been disrupted. An unexpected and prolonged time stuck at home can wreak havoc on finances, stress levels, and lots of other things.
You can take more control by figuring out how to get positive things out of this negative experience. Taking control of things you actually can control can help you cope, and getting something positive from this time can help make the experience a far better one.
When you or your child struggle with ADHD, changes in routine, lack of structure, increased stress, and other things common to the current circumstances can exacerbate pre-existing difficulties. Here are some suggestions for ways families affected by ADHD can make the most of this time of difficulty and disruption.
- Get things done around the house that you’ve been putting off forever. Clean out the basement or garage, organize your bedroom or study, make a list of your accounts in case of an emergency, and accomplish other similar things.
- Learn to create your own structure and help your child or teen make their own as well. Whether we have a job or attend school, our lives are often quite structured without our having to do much to create that structure. For many people, developing their own structure can be difficult. This moment presents a good opportunity to practice structuring your own time by making a daily schedule, even if it is for mostly fun things (like watching television, playing video games, or eating meals). This action may help you to feel better, be more productive, and learn how to implement your own structure in other situations (such as normal weekends, once they return). Planning ahead for work time, setting up who will watch the kids during specific time periods each day, and related items may also prove useful.
- Take advantage of the opportunity of life being slowed down. Spend more time with your kids, enjoy family meals together, and do the things as a family you would love to do if life wasn’t so hectic. Even if you are working at home, you could eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a family, and take breaks to play with your children.
- Pick up a new hobby. Learn to code, knit, build things, play an instrument, or do something else of your choice.
- Use the time to take better care of yourself and your family. Incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your day with apps such as Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace. You can find many self-care classes or programs on YouTube. Many valuable courses are currently being offered online free of charge.
- Seek professional assistance via telehealth. If you or a loved one has trouble with attentional issues, emotion regulation, anxiety, executive function limitations, or impulsivity—especially if you just haven’t had the time to get help before—this could be a good opportunity to seek support via various digital tools. For example, if your child struggles with morning routines, behavior, and related items, you can seek out a therapist who can help with these issues. If there are school issues, perhaps you’ll be able to find a tutor or executive functioning coach who can help via teleconference. Most professionals in this realm are currently offering remote sessions.
Whatever you choose to do during this time at home, finding ways to benefit from this unusual experience can have a positive and lasting effect on you and your loved ones.
Carey A. Heller, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist based in Maryland and an assistant clinical professor of clinical psychology at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and executive function issues. Learn more at hellerpsychologygroup.com. A board member for the Montgomery County chapter of CHADD, Dr. Heller also serves on the editorial advisory board for Attention magazine.