4 Ways to Cope With COVID-19 When Living With ADHD

Young man sitting at dining table doing work.

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Key Takeaways

  • Adults living with ADHD may find it difficult to cope due to stressors caused by the pandemic.
  • Some helpful exercises to soothe symptoms include reframing your thoughts, creating a sleep schedule, and maintaining a daily routine.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a significant strain on mental health globally. The stress of social distancing and economic uncertainty is leading to a mental overload for many adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during late June alone, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use. The CDC also shows 30% of U.S. adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder. These symptoms may have a bigger impact on you if you struggle with adult ADHD.

“In a pandemic where social distancing potentiates survival, the resulting physical, financial and social stress has led to a mental health crisis in both pediatrics and adult populations," Jasmyne Jackson, MD, clinical fellow in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, tells Verywell. “As we all are feeling the unrelenting strain of COVID-19, access to affordable mental health services is critical. I hope that [the] psychiatric impact of this pandemic can push us away from stigma and towards accepting mental health as fundamental to physical health."

What This Means For You

People with ADHD may be facing disruptive changes in their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes may trigger new or worsening symptoms of ADHD or other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. Creating a routine, reframing your symptoms, setting a sleep routine, and socializing digitally may help relieve these symptoms.

Ways To Cope With ADHD Symptoms

A lack of face-to-face interaction can lead to an increased lack of structure, which can make it harder to accomplish daily tasks. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to adjust your daily routine in an effort to soothe symptoms and stressors.

Try Reframing Your Symptoms

A recent study of young adults living with ADHD found some people reframe their symptoms as strengths. Adjusting the way you talk to yourself about these stressors can make a positive impact. Try telling yourself positive affirmations like:

  • My high energy level helps me to multi-task
  • I can channel my restlessness into positive activities
  • It’s normal to be concerned about the pandemic

Practice Good Sleep Habits

An established routine can help with both ADHD and depression. There's a significant prevalence of sleep disorders in ADHD and vice versa. A calming sleep schedule can help ease symptoms. Some ways to ensure a better nights sleep include: 

  • Set a "no cell phones in bed" rule
  • Move the television out of your bedroom
  • Use earplugs if ambient sounds are an issue
  • Dim the lights in your bedroom as you begin your nighttime routine in order to cue your mind to prepare for sleep
  • Make your bed extra comfortable, with soft sheets and calming music
  • Write your to-do list for the next day before bedtime

Create a Daytime Routine

Consider using a timer to help keep your day on schedule. Setting an alarm at regular intervals can help get you back on track. Planning in advance can also help manage your stress levels.

Try adding some of these steps into your daily routine:

  • Finish a task before starting another
  • Put items away when you are done with them
  • Keep your keys, wallet, and cell phone in the same place
  • Exercise at the same time (before breakfast, after dinner, etc.)
  • If possible, check your email only at certain times of day

Reach Out

Insecurity can be a symptom of adult ADHD. It’s important to remember you are not alone in your diagnosis. You can contact your healthcare provider via telephone or email. Many healthcare providers now offer telehealth services for evaluations. Your provider might also offer consultations and therapy sessions virtually.

“For too long, there’s been this stigma behind talking about mental health, but this pandemic has normalized us talking about our mental well-being, and that’s a step toward the right direction,” Yenifer Gallegos-Mejia, an associate clinical social worker in Fresno, California, tells Verywell.

Remember: your friends and family want to be there for you. You can also use conferencing platforms to spend time with family members and friends digitally. Loved ones can offer support during difficult times or offer insight into their lives, which might help take your mind away from racing thoughts. 

When To Seek Help

You should seek consultation with your healthcare provider if you're experiencing any new or worsening symptoms of ADHD that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Erica Gerald Mason
Erica Gerald Mason is an Atlanta-based writer with a focus on mental health and wellness.