ADHD and Running on Empty? Boost Your Energy with These Simple Tips
You know that 3 pm energy slump that seems to come everyday… does it ever feel like you hit it at 10 o’clock in the morning?
I know I’ve experienced that, and it always seems to be when I’m incredibly busy and pushing to meet some serious deadlines.
Of course, there are tons of things we can do to help us maintain a solid energy baseline. But even with all of those tricks and tools, sometimes we still just feel depleted. That’s okay. Especially for people managing ADHD, it’s completely normal to run out of energy from time to time.
Energy & ADHD
People with ADHD tend to require more brainpower to get through the day. Everything from organizing information, to managing time, to just staying focused on a single task requires more energy when we have ADHD.
When we run out of energy, it can truly feel like we’ve hit a wall. Sometimes we try to muster the energy to push through and finish the day… sometimes we just give up and call it quits. In either case, we’re definitely not producing our best work. But, what if it doesn’t have to be like that? What if instead, we choose to do something that boosts our energy and helps us finish the day strong?
This is something my clients and I discuss frequently and I’m always impressed with the creative ways they find to give themselves a little energy boost. That’s why, when I thought about writing this article, I wanted to highlight their tactics. So I did what I often do… I sent out a quick one-question quiz to my network and asked them,
“When you feel low on energy, what is your single best go-to energy booster?”
People in my network (my friends with ADHD) came up with some great suggestions, which I’m excited to share with you! Check out their tips below and try a few of them over the next few days to see how they work for you!
Eat or Drink Something
Getting some food or water into the body was one of the most common responses. Lots of people who responded said they will grab a snack, fix a meal, or even just drink a cold glass of water. These are great suggestions because oftentimes our energy slump is due to lack of fuel. Food and water both help to keep our bodies and minds moving. So when you feel that energy slump come, try treating yourself to a healthy and nutritious snack. Almonds are great, smoothies are beneficial, and even a bit of chocolate can help! Just steer clear of high sugar, low nutritional foods that might make the energy slump worse.
“I like to have a large glass of hot water with a little lemon juice to boost my energy.”
Respondents also said they like to get moving when their energy dips. Everything from taking a shower, to going for a walk, to dancing around the living room for a few minutes were recommendations that people offered. Other activities, like doing the dishes or vacuuming, can help too. Anything that gets the blood flowing to the muscles will give a boost to the brain, as well.
“Sometimes I put on a great song and sing and dance for a few minutes.Gives me just the boost I need!”
Get Some Sleep
Many people mentioned sleeping or quick naps as ways they increase their energy. Believe it or not, power naps are an incredibly effective way to boost your energy. Even just 10 minutes in your car at work can be super helpful. But be careful not to sleep too much. If you sleep too long your body will fall into its natural sleep cycle, which may leave you more tired than you were before.
“I find that a quick nap between meetings helps me feel fresh for the rest of the afternoon.”
Some people suggested a quick distraction to give your brain a break. They mentioned things like watching funny videos, listening to some music, or playing a quick game on a phone as helpful things to try. Taking a few minutes to engage in quick distracting activities can be the equivalent of hitting the pause button for your brain. It can give your brain time to replenish its energy. Just be sure to use some tools to get yourself back on track after a few minutes. I recommend using Time Timer to time your break. You can even ask a friend to text you after a certain amount of time to remind you to refocus your attention back to the task at hand.
“I take a break and do something that makes me laugh (watching a show, for example).”
Find Some Quiet Time
Several respondents said that activities like mindfulness, meditation, and reading are also very helpful. People recommended things like going outside and sitting quietly, using a short guided meditation (check out MindfullyADD for access to guided meditations specifically for people with ADHD), or reading a chapter of a book. Like the distraction tactics above, these activities are also ways to push the pause button for your brain. They might even be more helpful than distractions because they provide a quiet space for your brain to rest, rejuvenate, and decompress. Research actually shows that there are physiological reasons why these tactics are so helpful.
“Deep breaths and stretching can help me get a boost of energy.”
A few people said that just changing things up gives them the boost they need. They mentioned things like moving to a new chair, focusing on a different project, or standing up for a while. I like to call these tactics microchanges. Read more here about why microchanges are so helpful!
“When I’m low on energy and I have to push through, I’ll try moving to a new room or sitting in a different place in my office. It actually helps!”
Connect With Someone
Taking a few minutes to chat with someone is another helpful tactic that people suggested. They recommended things like connecting with someone emotionally, laughing with someone, and participating in an engaging conversation, which are all activities that can infuse us with energy when we can’t create it for ourselves. The connection we experience actually releases chemicals in our brain that help replenish the energy in our body.
“An engaging conversation always boosts my mood and my energy.”
Some people had other suggestions, like spritzing cold water on their face or standing outside in the sunshine for a few minutes. These are great ideas that can help to create a boost of energy in a pinch!
Turning to caffeine was the most popular suggestion, but I intentionally put this one last for three reasons. First, because it’s a pretty common solution and one many of us probably use already. Second, it may not be applicable because not everyone drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Third and most important, because caffeine gives us an artificial energy boost and while it may be incredibly effective, it’s not always the most healthy or organic way to boost our energy. So while I’ll never minimize the usefulness of caffeine, I will encourage you to try a couple of other tactics before going to this one. Or you could even try combining a few of them with caffeine – take a walk to the coffee shop down the street, close your eyes and meditate while the coffee is brewing, or dance your way to the kitchen to grab that tea.
“If all else fails, I’ll have coffee or 1/4 sugar-free Red Bull with cherry juice.”
Eat, Sleep, Breathe, Move
So there you have it…. a ton of tried-and-true solutions that can give your brain and your body the energy boost it needs. In fact, a lot of these strategies go right back to a concept I often talk about in ADHD coaching, which is Eat, Sleep, Breathe, Move (if you haven’t downloaded a free copy of the e-Book, click here to get it). Some of these strategies above (and in the e-Book) might be familiar and some might be new to you. In any case, they’re all helpful! So the next time you notice your energy dragging, take a few minutes and try a new energy boost tactic.