A coping technique I’ve occasionally mentioned is to set iron-clad rules and limits, especially regarding time usage.
I’ve found that having a preexisting limit takes some of the burden off of my executive functioning abilities in the moment, where I’m more likely to act impulsively. For example, if you know you have a sacrosanct limit of one Netflix episode per day, you don’t have to try to decide what the appropriate number of Netflix episodes to watch today is – and end up convincing yourself repeatedly that just one more episode is OK.
Personally, though, my limit is zero Netflix episodes per day. As I’ve written about before, I phased out my TV viewing altogether several years ago because I would just end up watching way more TV than I meant to. And I haven’t ever once thought, “man, I miss spending my time on watching TV.”
Recently, with the new corona-influenced lifestyle we’ve taken up in 2020, I’ve gained a newfound gratitude for having cut TV out of my life. With staying at home so much, it would be all too easy to rationalize watching an unhealthy amount of TV – by which I mean an amount of TV that ends up making me feel worse rather than making me happy.
However, I’ve also had to reevaluate some of my self-imposed rules. For example, I used to have a rule about only reading one book at a time, inspired by the ADHD-related tendency to start books and not finish them.
For the sake of variety in a time of staying at home, I’ve lifted my one-book-at-a-time limit. So far, the results have been good. Of four books I’ve been rotating between recently, only one is currently in serious danger of not being finished.
Which brings me to an important point about imposing rules on yourself as a coping strategy: from time to time, you need to reevaluate those rules. When circumstances change, sometimes your rules for coping need to change too.
And circumstances have definitely changed in the last few months. Hence why this is a good time to reevaluate and see which rules are more important than ever (like my TV rule), and which need to be adjusted (like my book rule).
Incidentally, it’s also a good time to adopt new rules – if you have other self-imposed rules that help you cope with ADHD, feel free to share them below!