July 13, 2023

How to focus with ADHD without medication?

How Do You Improve Your Focus with ADHD Without Medication?

A neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect anyone, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD can hugely impact the daily lives of children, adolescents, and adults alike, and maintaining focus and concentration is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by those with ADHD.  

To manage ADHD symptoms, people are prescribed medications. However, alternative methods such as therapy for managing and treating ADHD symptoms are also highly sought after. There are multiple psychological strategies and techniques that can help those with ADHD enhance their focus and overcome concentration issues with time and dedication.

How Does ADHD Affect Concentration?

ADHD symptoms include persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and the difficulties in concentration are mostly because of impairments in the executive functions of the brain. Having ADHD means the organization, planning, and attention sustaining abilities of the brain are weaker.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD you should look out for are forgetfulness, impulsiveness, inattention, hyperactivity, poor organizational skills, and difficulty in completing tasks. These symptoms immensely impact a person’s ability to stay focused on specific activities, especially those that are necessary for learning, working, and doing chores.

Strategies for Improving Concentration Among Those with ADHD:

  • You must establish a structured routine: Creating a predictable schedule can help individuals with ADHD stay organized and maintain focus.
  • You can break tasks into manageable chunks: Breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can enhance focus and reduce overwhelm.
  • You may use visual aids and reminders: Utilize calendars, planners, or smartphone apps to visually represent tasks and deadlines.
  • You should minimize distractions: Create an environment with minimal visual and auditory distractions, such as quiet study areas or noise-cancelling headphones.
  • You can employ time management techniques: Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (working in short, focused bursts with regular breaks) can aid in maintaining concentration.
Focus with ADHD

Can ADHD Medications Help with Concentration Problems?

Stimulants and non-stimulants are the typically prescribed medications for the management of ADHD symptoms. Medications for ADHD work by boosting certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which would increase your focus, and reduce impulsivity. But note that medication is just one of the many methods to manage and treat ADHD, and some individuals may be more suitable for non-medical approaches.

Non-medical Treatments for ADHD-Related Concentration Problems

Some of the non-medical treatment methods for ADHD include cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness techniques and meditation, exercise and physical activity, and nutritional inventions. But note that these are to be used alongside medications, especially if prescribed by a healthcare professional.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the standard in psychological interventions for most conditions, including ADHD. As a highly effective and evidence-based non-medical treatment for ADHD, CBT techniques are performed in order to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours.  

Other strategies such as goal setting, self-monitoring, and cognitive restructuring can also sharpen your focus and prolong your attention span. But more than these, CBT helps those who have ADHD acknowledge and understand the connections between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and where they can go from there to make positive changes in their life.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are some of the mindfulness practices that those with ADHD may find useful in managing their symptoms. Mindfulness means awareness of the present moment, boosting self-regulation skills and enhancing attention.  

Other benefits of mindfulness include decreased impulsivity, as well as the reduced tendency to give in to distractions. It has been shown that mindfulness-based interventions have promising results especially for the overall well-being of those with ADHD.

3. Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular exercise helps those with ADHD by a lot: they can release excess energy, and increase their brain health by sharpening focus, increasing attention, and improving their overall cognitive function.  

Apart from what was established, exercise is also known to increase the production of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that boost our mood and decrease our stress. Incorporating exercise into daily routines can be a valuable non-medical strategy to stabilize the chemicals and hormones in the brains of those with ADHD.

4. Nutritional Interventions

Suitable dietary adjustments may complement other non-medical treatments when it comes to managing ADHD, especially a diet that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.  

Some examples of vitamins and minerals in food that help to reduce symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity include mega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Make sure that you take enough vitamins and minerals, like iron, zinc, and B vitamins so that you improve your brain function, especially your concentration.

Remember that non-medical treatments work best in conjunction with the appropriate type of therapy given by the right psychologist, as well as medications that are properly prescribed by a licensed medical professional.  Working with healthcare professionals who specialize in ADHD is important to get the best treatment plan possible.

How Can Parents and Teachers Help Children with ADHD Improve Their Concentration?

  • They must create a supportive environment: Parents and teachers must establish clear expectations for the children with ADHD, have enough patience and understanding for them, and offer positive reinforcement as well.
  • They can break tasks into smaller steps: Parents and teachers can help children with ADHD by breaking down assignments and tasks into manageable parts to help them remain focused and accomplish their tasks successfully.
  • They can utilize visual aids and cues: Parents and teachers can employ visual reminders like a calendar for daily schedules or a task checklist to promote planning ahead and organization among children with ADHD.
  • They should incorporate movement breaks: Parents and teachers should include short movement breaks to help the children release excess energy and make them concentrate better.

Overcoming ADHD-related Concentration Problems

Having ADHD doesn’t mean it’s impossible to control people’s impulses, hyperactivity, and attention maintenance, because with strategic practices, you can positively impact the lives of those with ADHD. And even if ADHD remains a neurodevelopmental condition, without any complete elimination of all symptoms, it’s a very manageable condition.

Meanwhile, untreated ADHD-related concentration problems can negatively impact people’s daily lives, including their schooling, work performance, relationships, and self-esteem. They may also bother the people around them with their constant display of uncontrolled symptoms, with both the people with ADHA and those around them experiencing heightened stress levels, decreased productivity at school or in the workplace.

And while alternative treatments and natural remedies can be used experimentally, they must be used alongside evidence-based treatment methods. You must consult with licensed healthcare professionals and be on the lookout for unsubstantiated treatments or claims.

Common Myths about Concentration Problems Related to ADHD

Myth: ADHD is just a result of laziness or lack of discipline.

Fact: ADHD isn’t caused by laziness or absence of discipline; rather, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can only be regulated with the right treatment plan. ADHD impairs executive functions of the brain, such as maintaining attention, keeping organized, and controlling impulses, which can immensely affect their ability to complete tasks, absorb information, and control particular behaviours in social settings.

Myth: Only children can have ADHD; it disappears in adulthood.

Fact: Most people believe ADHD can only happen with kids, but the truth is, it can persist beyond childhood. Those with ADHD can keep experiencing symptoms and challenges regarding concentration for the rest of their lives. But with proper treatment, the presentation of symptoms may change, and ADHD can be controlled so you can be a fully functional person.

Myth: Medication is the only effective treatment for ADHD.

Fact: Medication does work wonders for ADHD, especially in managing symptoms, but it’s not the only effective treatment available in the market. ADHD can be managed with cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness techniques, exercise, and dietary adjustments. The most effective treatment plan for ADHD is one that’s tailored to fit the needs and concerns of the client, and guided by licensed healthcare professionals.

Myth: ADHD is overdiagnosed and doesn’t exist as a genuine disorder.

Fact: Contrary to this, ADHD is actually supported by extensive studies. ADHD has been a recognized and established neurodevelopmental disorder for a long time already by both the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization. And while misdiagnosis or overdiagnosis are serious cases of medical malpractice, mental health and clinical professionals ensure proper evaluation and assessment for accurate ADHD diagnosis and treatment plans.

In Summary

Improving focus and concentration without medication is a realistic goal for those with ADHD. By implementing well-planned and healthy coping strategies, seeking therapy, and creating supportive environments, those with ADHD can enhance their focus, increase their productivity, and improve the overall quality of their life.  

Non-Medical and Evidence-Based Treatment for ADHD: Archways is Here to Help

Archways is a private psychology clinic dedicated to using evidence-based therapies grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) to help adults, adolescents, and children improve their lives. Their team of experienced professionals specializes in providing comprehensive assessments and personalized treatments for various mental health concerns, including ADHD.  

By utilizing CBT techniques, Archways aims to empower those with ADHD to develop effective strategies for improving their focus, concentration, and overall well-being. With their commitment to evidence-based practices, Archways is a valuable resource for those seeking psychological support in managing ADHD-related problems. You may reach us at (519) 472-6612.