Mental Health

ADHD and the Importance of Routines

ADHD healthy routines
When you create healthy routines and habits it positively reinforces your behaviour.

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As important as medication is for treating ADHD, there are many other things to take into consideration such as creating healthy routines and habits. The main area of the brain ADHD effects is the executive functions of the brain. This area is in control of things like attention, decision making, and impulse control (to name a few).

When you create healthy routines and habits, whether you live with ADHD or not, it positively reinforces your behaviour.

Routines may not seem like much, but in actuality building routines helps strengthen every aspect of your life. Routine helps in areas such as:

  • Healthy sleeping habits
  • Healthy study habits
  • Healthy self-care habits
  • Organizational skills
  • Prescription drug adherence
  • Developing life skills

These are just a few examples of the lifelong benefits that you can develop from creating healthy routines.

Here is my top ten list of things you can do to help make healthy routines stick if you live with ADHD:

1) When you build routines, make sure you factor in not only what works but also what hasn’t worked in the past. Follow this acronym KISF: Keep It Simple and Focused on what works.

2) ADHD affects many areas of a person’s life. The best way to stay organized is through exercises such as writing things down (on your phone or paper) and setting reminders.

3) Use a reward system for accomplishing certain goals. Little positive reinforcements go a long way in a world with so much negativity.

4) Keep routines realistic and focused by giving yourself the proper time to accomplish specific tasks. That way making routines and sticking to them won’t seem as overwhelming.

5) Be flexible with routines when helpful.

6) ADHD can make you feel powerless in many areas of your life. Creating routines and healthy habits helps give an individual a sense of control.

7) Routines help you to recognize when you need to take time for yourself and can help improve self-management skills.

8) Keep in mind no one is perfect; everyone struggles with creating routines sometimes. Even though you may get frustrated, remember this. Use this as an opportunity for a lesson instead of a reason to put yourself down.

9) Start with baby steps. Remember, not everyone learns at the same speed; those baby steps will turn into big improvements! Sit down and make a list and figure out what to include in your routine schedule with the help of a qualified professional such as a clinical therapist. Find what works for you.

10) Take the SMART approach to building your routines and making healthy habits. This means make your routines:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

In closing, here is a quote from the late great Bruce Lee about routines:

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.”

Remember that awareness–whether it’s about ADHD, Anxiety, or any other mental health struggle–isn’t something we should practise a few times a year; it’s something we should practice every day or our lives.


Author/Writer at Thought Catalog, Libero Magazine, Invisible illness/Beautiful Voyager, and TotallyADD. I'm also a trained peer supporter.

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