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ADHD Burnout and Exhaustion

A tired doctor leans against a wall
Burned Out By ADD?

Have you experienced ADHD burnout or exhaustion?

When you think of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder do you think of things such as being impulsive, hyperactive, or getting easily distracted, or all of the above options?

Most people don’t realize that these qualities are common traits of ADHD. Or, that these qualities are just a couple symptoms of ADHD and ADD. Most people forget ADHD is complicated, and it isn’t just about getting distracted or being hyperactive. 

In my journey, one of my hardest challenges was learning to deal with ADHD exhaustion or burnout. If you live with ADHD or ADD, it’s likely you’ve experienced this as well.

ADD Symptoms and Fatigue

Why is it more challenging for someone living with ADHD or ADD to cope with burnout and fatigue? When we experience burnout, we also have to cope with some or all of the following symptoms of ADHD:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Anxiety and sensory issues
  • Low self-worth
  • Impulse control
  • Rejection sensitivity
Reading text messages on the bus

Coping with Being Burnt Out

You may be experiencing burn out, and wondering why you’re having such a difficult time. Here are a few reasons why coping with burnout and fatigue isn’t easy when you have ADHD or ADD:

  • We struggle to show ourselves self-compassion because we feel selfish for taking time for ourselves
  • The feeling of needing or wanting to do it all to prove to ourselves or other people that we can, so we take on too much responsibility
  • An inconsistent routine or no routine at all, and the guilt that comes with that
  • Our self-talk and beliefs regarding our psychological wellbeing, and how sometimes they contradict our need to feel accepted

What is Burnout?

According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is experiencing physical, emotional or mental exhaustion. Burnout additionally involves feeling things such as negative or anxious thoughts about our performance in areas on our life.

Its also important to realize that burnout can be caused by situations, people and many other things.

A women does child's pose
Click this image to read about Deep Breathing for the ADHD Mind

Tips for Dealing with ADHD Fatigue and Burnout

Those are just a few examples of why ADHD fatigue is real, and our stigmas and beliefs surrounding ADHD play a part in how we relate to aspects of our treatment. For this reason, I want you to keep the following tips in mind when you come across this in your life:

  • Focus on your needs, and listen to your mind and body if you become overly hard on yourself, or find yourself not able to sleep, or experience other signs of burnout. Take the time needed to acknowledge those symptoms through practicing skills such as self-awareness and acceptance.
  • Practice being mindful of positive and negative emotions, and remember that sometimes it’s ok to not be ok. Use tools such as healthy self-talk, and the SMART to approach to setting goals. These are great tools and helpful for creating healthy routines.
  • Take time to acknowledge your own stigmas surrounding self-care, and remember, self-compassion is way more helpful than self-loathing.
  • Learn psychological tools such as grounding techniques, and don’t make excuses for skipping doctor appointments, because your treatment is a vital part of your wellbeing.
  • Technology can help with burnout, as well there are plenty of apps out there such as Youper, that are incredibly helpful to track thoughts and feelings through journaling and CBT exercises.
  • Understand that setting healthy boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s a sign of healthy emotional regulation, especially when you’re bombarded with unsolicited advice, the internet and life. It’s hard to take a step back from those things, but doing so is therapeutic.
  • Setting a time each night (unless there’s an emergency) to disconnect – read or do whatever you find relaxing. Watch your screen time though! It affects the quality of your sleep and that’s important for everyone.
  • Plus, many people think they’re an ADHD expert. This isn’t just exhausting, it can feel belittling and frustrating, right?! I want you to remember that you shouldn’t feel bad for not taking their advice, or for not tolerating ADHD stigma or pill shaming.
  • My last piece of advice may sound weird, and it’s something that I took a long time to learn. The lesson I’m talking about is that in addition to our medication or treatment, we need to learn the importance of building a healthy relationship with ourselves. 

    We do this through learning things such as routines, coping skills and drug adherence. Also, the way we communicate with ourselves, so we foster that relationship and it grows. I won’t lie, this isn’t something you’ll learn overnight – it takes time, but eventually you’ll get to a place where you learn to work with your ADHD. And it won’t be so exhausting.

About Sandy Pace

Sandy Pace Headshot
Sandy Pace

In 2015, I came across two advocates who changed my life: Rick Green at TotallyADD, and How to ADHD’s Jessica McCabe. I honestly can say they’ve changed my life in ways I never thought possible. Through inspiring me to become an author/advocate and help others in their journey.

Since then, I’ve been featured in: Thought Catalog, Libero Magazine, Mediums Invisible Illness & Beautiful Voyager, plus SOS Safety Magazine.

In addition to writing, I’m in the process of becoming a certified peer support worker, so I can empower others living with a mental condition. I’m additionally diagnosed with ADHD, and proud to be a passionate advocate who does everything in my power to eliminate the stigma attached to ADHD and medication.

You can find more of my articles at Medium

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