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ADHD Paralysis

What is it & What Can You Do?

By GYST Assisting Published about a year ago 4 min read

Have you ever felt like your brain is just too full? That there’s so much going on up there that you can’t possibly keep track of it all? If so, then you might be a neurodivergent.

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and it’s a neurological condition that affects approximately 5% of the population. People with ADHD often struggle with an inability to focus, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. And while those symptoms can certainly be frustrating, they don’t always paint the full picture of what it’s like to live with ADHD.

For some of us (yes, me the author, included), ADHD isn’t just about struggling to focus or being impulsively chatty. It can also cause what I like to call “ADHD paralysis.” This is when the sheer amount of information swirling around in our brains prevents us from taking any action at all.

We become frozen, unable to make even the simplest decisions because our brains are just too overwhelmed.

If you’ve ever experienced this kind of paralysis yourself, then you know how frustrating and even debilitating it can be. But the good news is that there are ways to manage it!

The feeling of being overwhelmed by everything you need to do

Everyone has experienced ADHD paralysis at least once- you know, when you open your task list only to find yourself in a state of complete overwhelm, unsure of where to even begin? Trying to manage all that needs to get done can quickly become overwhelming and paralyze us in fear of never being able to accomplish any of it. On these days, rather than going through the motions of futilely trying to check everything off your list, it may be best to take a step back and focus on just one thing.

Prioritizing small victories that chip away at that daunting list can help give you the confidence boost needed to tackle the rest.

When you can’t focus on anything because your mind is racing

When your thoughts start running wild and you can’t focus on anything, it’s like ADHD paralysis. You feel stuck in an endless cycle of randomly jumping between ideas, tasks, and plans. Many call this the ‘squirrel effect” or visualize many hampsters running in their wheels all at once. It may feel chaotic and overwhelming but the only solution is to take a deep breath, redirect your thoughts to just one activity, and start small. I like to grab one item off of my ‘to-do’ list and then close it (or turn the paper over if that’s what you’re using). I don’t look at it again until that one task is complete. Then I repeat. Sometimes all it takes is the first baby step in the direction of productivity.

Trying to do too many things at once and not being able to finish anything

Some days, we are guilty of being overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks that demand our attention. We open up browser after browser window and frantically switch between them in a desperate search for productivity — only to find ourselves with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. This ADHD-like paralysis can be incredibly frustrating and when left unaddressed, will only worsen things. So next time you find yourself trying to do too many things at once and not finishing anything — stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and break tasks into manageable pieces. See the above (one task at a time).

Procrastination because you’re afraid of failing

When it feels like the couch is too comfortable and you don’t have the willpower to move away from it….because well everything and nothing at once.

Ahhhh procrastination: it creeps in when we’re afraid of failing at something — which really is just an irrational fear taking shape because failure is not one-size-fits-all and success isn’t limited to who works hardest.

So next time procrastination sets in remember this: don’t let yourself become scared of what could be and simply take things one step at a time.

Feeling like you’re not good enough or that you’ll never be able to accomplish anything

Feeling like you’re not good enough or like you will never accomplish anything can truly leave a person stopped in their tracks. Rather than engaging with the world around you, you see yourself as inadequate and unable to make forward progress, so why bother trying? However, it’s important for those feeling this way to take comfort in the fact that every great thing starts somewhere. You can be whatever you want to be if you just get through this period of self-doubt and eventually find a way to capitalize on your strengths.

What can you do?

Having ADHD can be overwhelming but don’t let it paralyze you into inaction.

Remember to:

  1. Take small steps toward task completion
  2. Break down big goals into manageable pieces to tackle difficult tasks
  3. If feelings of debilitating anxiety or nervousness hit you unexpectedly, seek professional help to get back on your feet.

If you can relate to any of the points above, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We all struggle with different things when it comes to productivity and achieving our goals and adding a layer of neurodivergence to the mix can cause additional overwhelm. The most important thing is to identify what your main struggles are and find ways to overcome them.

Let me know in the comments which of the above do you struggle with the most and how you overcome it.

supporthow todisordercoping

About the Creator

GYST Assisting

Systems & Strategies for Online Business Owners | Mental Health | Multipassionate | I’m Your Small Business Case Study|

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