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How to Keep Your ADHD Brain Happy

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Here´s the question.

Now that everyone is working and studying online due to the current Covid19 pandemic situation, how do students with ADHD adapt to 100 % online learning?

The Fall semester has now begun for college and high school students. 2020 is proving to be a massive challenge for students of all ages all over the globe who now have to cope with the challenge of studying all day online, This is particularly true for students with ADHD who need structure to their day. Normally ADHD students benefit considerably from the structured school day or the structure of college life on campus.

The reality of the situation is this - For many universities, colleges, and school districts, classes will continue online for the Fall semester if not longer.

What challenges do ADHD students have when studying online and how do they overcome these challenges?

Take the case of Marilyn, a postgraduate student with ADHD who enrolled in the Fall of 2019 for her postgraduate degree at Harvard. This gave her all the benefits of using all the facilities on campus such as all the libraries, labs, studios, and even sporting facilities. Never mind the social activities which tend to abound on campus.

People with ADHD get easily bored and often fall short in motivation. Going out to different places and enjoying the experiences on campus is exciting and motivating.

Taking advantage of all the different support systems such as the Writing Lab Center or sitting studying in the library was very stimulating and enjoyable. This is of course true for most students on either an undergrad or postgrad level.

It was such an exciting opportunity and Marilyn happily enjoyed using all these facilities until 2020 hit. In February of 2020 the university announced that all classes would go online due to the Covid19 pandemic.

Suddenly, Marilyn like many others had their routine and daily structure is taken away. They had to now work in a home environment without the regular daily routine. They had to find a way to create their own daily structure. Studying from home meant less interaction with peers, teachers, or professors and sitting in front of the laptop for hours on end trying to focus.

All of a sudden she felt overwhelmed at this drastic change in her daily routine. It was difficult enough keeping on top of everything when she was going physically to classes, how was she going to manage now?

Sound familiar? Perhaps you can relate to her story if you are a high school or college student with ADHD.

Learning online means a lack of social interaction, concentration may be more difficult than when you attend the class in person, and let’s face it, being at home in your room attending classes on Zoom can sometimes be boring especially if you have ADHD.

This is especially true if you have long classes or classes back to back. You are used to moving around between classes, and that break to move helps you to reset and refocus.

So …...

How do you stay motivated if you are only studying online?

How do you avoid boredom?

How do you organize your day?

Let's look at some coping strategies to help you manage the challenges of studying online during a pandemic.

  1. Check to see if your classes are recorded so you can watch them again for important parts you have missed if you find yourself zoning out.( especially for long classes)

  2. When choosing your classes try to pick classes that take place at the time of day when you are most receptive and “in the zone “

  3. Find an accountability partner. Choose either a classmate, friend, or family member to help you be accountable for deadlines and assignments.

  4. As always, break down your assignments into smaller chunks and try labeling or numbering each chunk and adding it to your calendar to work on them daily or on a regular basis.

  5. Set up video classmates who are taking the same course so you can support each other and review the new material. Also, find out what remote tutoring options your school or college offers and take advantage of this!

And here are 5 more.......

  1. Communicate with your teacher or professor regularly and ask for help. Even though you are not meeting them in person you need to develop a relationship with them and feel confident to ask for advice. That’s what they are there for!

  2. Your learning environment. This can be a tricky one when you are studying from home especially if you find keeping your room organized. Try organizing one small section of your room first such as your desk, so that at least when you are in your online course you will have fewer distractions.

  3. Stay at your desk or your preferred area for taking your online classes. Try to make this area your study station and when possible keep this area separate from the rest of the room/ home.

  4. Avoid distractions in your home. Let´s face it,, you are now much closer to the fridge, the TV, your family or roommates, and there are so many temptations for distraction!

  5. Do some exercise! You are now sitting for hours on end. Find a way to get moving between classes, and even trying changing your position like standing up during class. If you are allowed to turn off your video do a few stretches for a few minutes then turn your video back on.

Above all, don't despair and give in to the feelings of overwhelm. Take baby steps to create a daily structure that works for you and try out some of the strategies above!

Want to learn more? Check out the other blogs on my website!

Need to get more focus? Grab my free worksheet 7 Ways to Reset your Focus

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