The start of the school year can cause anxiety for anyone, but it can be especially challenging if you’re a student with ADHD. Dealing with a whole new routine, not to mention new teachers, new classmates, and new subject matter, can be disorienting.
Although the academic year has already begun, it’s not too late to set some goals to ease into the school year with confidence and make the most of the next several months. Explore eight tips to beat back to school anxiety if you have ADHD.
The ability to set goals and meet deadlines without getting sidetracked is crucial to academic success. But when you have ADHD, distractions are always looming and it can be difficult to get to the finish line if you keep stopping along the way.
Here are some simple steps you can follow:
- Write down specific goals you hope to achieve, whether that’s an A in math class, getting a part in the school play, making it on the basketball team, or getting your driver’s license.
- Break down your goal into small, achievable tasks. If it’s getting an A in math class, brainstorm what you can do to secure that grade: setting aside time each day to go over your math lesson, asking for extra support, taking practice tests before actual tests, etc. If your goal is to get cast in the school play, you can look up acting videos online, sign up for an improv class, read a book about theater, and of course, audition for the part. When a goal is broken down into small chunks, you get to focus on the journey more than the destination, which is enjoyable in itself.
- Track your progress and incentivize. Every time you complete a task that works toward your goal, cross it off your list, give yourself a check mark, do whatever you need to do to acknowledge the step you’ve taken. You might find extra motivation in giving yourself a reward every time you complete a task, like only playing your favorite video game after you’ve completed the task or going out for an ice cream. You can involve your parents here as they may have other ideas for rewards.
- Let go of perfectionism. There will be times where you’ll slip up, forget to do something, or encounter an unexpected challenge. Don’t let that throw you off course. Even if you don’t get the part in the school play or make the basketball team, you can still pursue an action plan that will prepare you for future opportunities. Learning how to deal with setbacks is a life skill we all need to learn.
Here are more ADHD tips for school to make the most of the rest of the school year.
1. Get Clear on Routines & Calendars
Routines and calendars are crucial when you have ADHD. Predictability helps your brain stay on task, so if you follow the same routine every morning — wake up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, pack your lunch, grab your backpack, leave for school — you can breeze through without skipping a beat and avoid a chaotic morning. But if you don’t have a set routine, your brain gets overloaded with too much possibility and a high risk for getting distracted, the perfect recipe for a hectic morning.
On top of having set routines for mornings and evenings before bed, make the most of visual calendars and scheduled reminders. This relieves your brain of the pressure of having to remember every date and deadline. Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it every day so you always know what’s coming up.
2. Create a Set Homework Schedule
Doing homework when you have ADHD can be challenging. But just like your morning and evening routine, a homework routine helps you stay on top of tasks and avoid late assignments. Try scheduling your homework at the same time each day. This might be right after school, or maybe after you’ve had a snack and chilled out for an hour. When do you work best? It’s also likely that school events or extracurricular activities can interfere with your schedule frome to time. Having an alternate schedule for these occurrences is recommended.
3. Start Preparing for the Next Day the Night Before
Part of having a chaos-free morning is preparing the night before. This might mean laying out your clothes for the next day and having your backpack organized and waiting by the door. You can also prepare for the next day by getting a good night’s sleep. Be sure to power down screens early, avoid caffeine and sugar before bed, and get to sleep at the same time each night as part of your nighttime routine.
4. Meditate on a Regular Basis
Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your health, including your brain health. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation significantly improves symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity, increases focus, and reduces stress in both kids and adults.1 If you’re just starting out, don’t feel pressured to sit for long stretches at a time, which can feel intolerable for those not accustomed to mediation. Starting with just five minutes every day is enough to start building this healthy habit. You might even consider meditating before bed with a guided sleep meditation.
5. Try Medications that Ease ADHD Symptoms
If you’re considering trying medication to ease your ADHD symptoms, we recommend starting with a non-prescription option first and leaving prescription ADHD medication as a last resort. Prescription drugs are powerful and highly effective for many kids and adults, but they do come with a range of side effects that can be avoided if you start with a gentler route. These include upset stomach, headaches, sleep issues, and anxiety.
Brillia is a non-prescription medication that helps reduce symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, restlessness, and anxiety in kids and teens aged five to 18. Free from harsh chemicals and harmful side effects, the medication will not cause drowsiness, affect the appetite, change your personality, or cause dependency. It is extremely targeted and works only on the specific brain chemicals that cause symptoms associated with ADHD so you can have more focus and better control over how you feel. Kids who take Brillia have reported that they find it easier to pay attention, their grades have improved, they’re less anxious at school, and their emotions feel more manageable.
But it’s important to know that no medication, even Brillia, is a magic cure for ADHD. Our holistic approach asks that you do your part in making healthy lifestyle changes like following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, controlling your screen time, and practicing mindfulness to set a foundation for success. Brillia will support you as you make these changes, and over time they will become automatic, ultimately replacing medication altogether.
Find out more about the Five Pillars and why they’re a key component of the Brillia approach.
6. Stay as Physically Active as Possible
You may already know that exercise is important for your body, but it’s equally important for your brain. When you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters that are typically scarce in the ADHD brain. It also helps to increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) available, which helps you learn.2 Don’t know where to start? Try the following to get creative about getting active:
- Hit the rock climbing gym.
- Try a jiu jitsu or other martial arts class.
- Dance to your favorite tunes.
- Challenge your friends to a hula hoop battle.
- Take a nature walk.
7. Touch Base with Your Teachers
Don’t be afraid to ask for extra support from teachers. If they know you have ADHD, they may provide special accommodations like extra time on tests, a distraction-free space, scheduled breaks, and more. Instead of fearing your teacher or hating school, see them as an ally and make school a place that meets your unique needs.
8. Remember to Breathe & Be Proud of Yourself!
Don’t forget to breathe and be proud of all the progress you’ve made thus far. Simply making an action plan is a monumental step in reaching your goals and there’s no better time than the present to get started.
If you need more support, find even more tips and resources on how to manage ADHD symptoms at school and at home at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.
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