What Is ADHD Impulsivity & How To Regain Your Life

Do you ever feel like you have no control over your life, emotions, or things you say? While we all have our fair share of impulsive moments, for people with ADHD, impulsivity is a daily struggle that can significantly impact their lives. 

Understanding ADHD Impulsivity

Impulsivity is a key symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which impairs the brain’s ability to plan, make decisions, and control our actions. ADHD Impulsivity is an inability to inhibit one’s impulses. This means having trouble stopping yourself from acting on all your urges and thoughts. 

Without meaning to, people with ADHD impulsivity sometimes put themselves into risky situations or overindulge, wreaking havoc on their relationships, finances, and even jeopardizing their safety, according to expert Dr. Russell A. Barkley. But it’s not about lacking willpower or being careless — it’s how their brain is wired.

How Does Impulsivity Affect Daily Life?

Having ADHD impulsivity is like having a car with a super-sensitive gas pedal and weak brakes. Even if you want to stop or slow down, it’s hard to do it in time. Without treatment, impulsivity can lead to negative consequences and impacts on multiple aspects of your life, such as:

  • Social Skills: You’re prone to interrupting or talking over people during conversations, which can easily annoy others.
  • Relationships: Acting or speaking without thinking can lead you to hurt the feelings of friends and family members, or get you in trouble with colleagues. 
  • School or Work: You turn in assignments without double-checking or start tasks without planning. You’re also prone to missing deadlines or not finishing projects
  • Finances: People with ADHD Impulsivity have difficulty saving money and are prone to overspending and impulse buying, which can lead to debt. 
  • Safety & Well-Being: Taking risks without thinking can endanger your physical and emotional health, such as speeding, binge drinking, trying drugs, or quitting your job without a backup plan.

How to Regain Control: Expert Strategies & Techniques

The good news is that there are ways to manage ADHD impulsivity. Here are some expert-backed strategies to help you regain control and improve your daily life:

  1. Read Up on ADHD
    The first step is becoming familiar with how your brain works. The more you understand it, the more you can regain control, and turn impulsive acts into thoughtful decisions. Learn what your brain does differently, and you can learn how to do the things your brain wasn’t wired for, while keeping the strengths ADHD gives you.
  1. Spot & Remove Triggers

Where and when do you usually lose control? What are some common factors every time you become impulsive? For example, if you impulsively eat, note where it happens—at home, work, or a restaurant. What happens before you start eating? Does someone offer you food? Or do you tend to binge eat when you’re bored, lonely, or stressed? Knowing this can help you make a plan to avoid or remove such triggers.

  1. Create Obstacles

Once you’re aware of your triggers, the next step is to create obstacles for yourself, making it harder for you to act impulsively. Say for instance you’ve been binge shopping a lot lately. Next time you go out, leave your credit card or checkbook at home. Take just the right amount of cash, and then lock away the rest somewhere out of sight. You can even give the key to a trusted friend as an extra precaution.

  1. Take A Pause

Since it’s hard for people with ADHD to slow down, finding alternative activities to fill the gap between impulse and action can be helpful. For example, if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing at a meeting, psychologist Dr. Perlman recommends bringing a notepad. So instead of blurting out your comments, jot them down as soon as they come to you. You could also take a short walk to clear your mind before making a decision, or count to 10 before you do something, no matter what. These small pauses can make a big difference in how you respond to situations.

  1. Manage Your Emotions

Strong emotions make it harder to control impulses, so managing your feelings can help with ADHD impulsivity. Try self-care activities to improve your mood and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Find a strategy that works for you — whether it’s guided imagery, a walking meditation, or breathing exercises — and do it often. 

  1. Stick To A Routine

A routine provides structure and predictability, which can help you stay focused and organized. By establishing regular habits for tasks like waking up, meal times, and work schedules, you’ll reduce the likelihood of impulsive behaviors. Routines also minimize distractions and create a sense of stability, which can be comforting and reassuring.

  1. Seek Support

Remember, you don’t have to manage ADHD impulsivity alone. Support from family, friends, teachers, or colleagues can make a big difference. Have you talked to those around you about your challenges? Sometimes, just having someone who understands can be incredibly helpful. You can also reach out to a specialist or talk to a professional. Support groups or therapy sessions can also be beneficial for sharing experiences and learning coping strategies from others facing similar challenges. 

ADHD impulsivity can feel overwhelming, but with the right strategies and support, you can regain control and lead a fulfilling life. So, what steps will you take today to start managing your impulsivity? 

If you found this video valuable, please like and share to support our work and spread awareness. And subscribe to our channel for more mental health content. We also have videos on “5 Ways Undiagnosed ADHD Negatively Affects You” and “5 Signs It’s Your ADHD, Not Laziness.” Thanks for watching!

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