June 4, 2024

Navigating ADHD Burnout

ADHD burnout is when you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, that is caused by the constant effort to manage ADHD symptoms.

how to navigate adhd burnout

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Table of Contents

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Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Kirsten Andersen

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on June 4, 2024

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Feeling completely drained-physically, mentally, and emotionally for long periods of time and don’t know why?

Like you’re moving in slow motion and everything becomes extremely overwhelming and you can’t put your finger on it. These are signs of feeling burnout, something someone living with ADHD may be all too familiar with.

When you find yourself constantly juggling responsibilities, struggling to stay focused, and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion; you can feel the toll it takes on your overall well-being.

It’s important that you understand the unique challenges you may face and the importance in seeking the right support and guidance while navigating ADHD burnout.1

What is ADHD Burnout?

ADHD burnout is when you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, that is caused by the constant effort to manage ADHD symptoms. This is very different from the term burnout you probably heard of before, but a unique type of burnout that comes from your daily challenges of living with ADHD.

You may have a hard time focusing, staying organized, and challenges with impulse control. When you ignore these things , ADHD burnout can cause you to feel hopeless with little or no motivation, and those everyday life demands can end up leaving you feeling overwhelmed.2

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How can hyperfocus contribute to ADHD burnout?

Have you ever completely focused on a task, to the point where you ignore or ‘tune out’ everything else? Have you ever found yourself concentrating on something so hard that you lose track of time?

Well these are signs of something called hyperfocus. While you might be thinking how could this be a bad thing? Although hyperfocus can be beneficial for completing tasks, it can also lead to ignoring other important parts of your life, such as self-care and relationships. A way to stop hyperfocus from turning into burnout is to set regular break times, no matter if you’re “in the zone” or not.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Being aware of what you are feeling and understanding the signs of ADHD burnout will be your first step toward learning a healthier way of living with ADHD. Some common warning signs may include :

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion, even after you getting some rest
  • Struggling to complete tasks, where it be in a timely manner or not at all
  • Getting frustrated easily , feeling irritable, and experiencing mood swings
  • Experiencing feelings like a lack of interest, detachment, or hopelessness
  • Not being able to concentrate or make a decision
  • Ignoring self-care or relationships

Identifying the Causes

There are many things to consider when trying to understand the causes of ADHD burnout, such as:

  • An overpowering feeling of anxiety at the thought of daily tasks and responsibilities
  • The double-edged sword of hyperfocus, that can lead you to overlook other important parts of your life
  • Struggling with managing time, organizing, and prioritizing; not knowing where to start or even not finishing tasks
  • Navigating social and professional pressures and expectations
  • Feeling like your misunderstood

 

By making a point to understand the causes and recognizing what ADHD burnout looks like, you are more likely to prevent it from taking over your life. By educating yourself you are taking much needed steps toward managing your ADHD and giving yourself a better chance at having a healthy and happy life.

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Tips to Managing ADHD Burnout

If you’ve ever traveled you surely remember the flight attendant saying something like,

“You are to put your own mask on before assisting others”.

In otherwards you are no help to others if you don’t care for yourself first. This pertains to so many things in life and is one of the most important things to practice when you are someone living with ADHD.

Self-care is extremely important to practice when trying to avoid ADHD burnout. Here are some ways that can help do so:

  • Getting enough restful sleep and sticking to a healthy sleep schedule
  • Making sure to maintain a balanced, healthy diet so that your body and brain have fuel
  • Make sure to move around, go hiking, go for a walk, take a zumba class,etc. When you are doing such activities you are utilizing multiple parts of the brain, which improves focus and reduces stress.
  • Remember to be kind to yourself, taking breaks throughout the day to recharge and avoid wearing yourself out
If you are finding yourself irritated more often, unable to control your emotions, and unable to pinpoint why you are feeling detached or even at times completely emotionless If you are lacking motivation to complete everyday tasks, having a hard time focusing and struggling to make decisions If you notice significant changes in your sleep or appetite Lack of self-care and neglecting loved ones You are showing signs of ADHD burnout. It’s important that you be aware of these signs and not avoid seeking support.

While both regular stress and ADHD burnout can lead to you feeling overwhelmed or experiencing feelings of exhaustion, ADHD burnout is typically characterized by a more persistent and severe set of symptoms. With ADHD burnout your feelings of exhaustion and decreased motivation may linger even after getting rest, and the impact it can have on daily functioning and overall well-being may be more significant. A key indicator that you’re experiencing ADHD burnout versus regular stress, is often tied to specific challenges of managing ADHD symptoms such as difficulties with organization , time management, and impulsivity.

If you have ADHD, you more than likely have experienced overstimulation, which often can contribute to burnout. When you experience overstimulation what it is, is your brain becoming overwhelmed by an excess of sensory input, such as loud noises, bright lights, or intense emotions. The constant effort to process and filter out this excess information, combined with the challenges of managing ADHD symptoms like difficulty focusing,being organized, and struggling with impulse control, can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. Over time, this combination of overstimulation and demands of managing ADHD can result in burnout.

Setting Realistic Goals & Expectations

It’s important as someone trying to avoid ADHD burnout to set goals that are realistic and attainable, in doing so you are more likely to have your expectations within yourself met.

 When your faced with largers goals it’s helpful to break them into smaller tasks, taking more manageable steps sets you up to celebrate your progress. Always be kind to yourself and remember that perfection isn’t the goal-what matters is that you’re doing your best.

Tools to Managing ADHD Burnout

Including things like meditation, yoga, or acquiring a hobby are powerful tools in managing ADHD burnout. Integrating these relaxation techniques into your everyday life will give you a sense of balance, something that you desperately need when struggling with ADHD burnout.

You’re probably asking yourself,

“how is taking time out of my day that I don’t have to sit around, stretch, or partake in a hobby going to help me ?”

Well by practicing techniques like these you are reducing your stress by up to a third while also increasing your serotonin, which makes you much more resilient to unnecessary future stress.

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Ways To Protect Yourself From Burnout

Creating a daily routine gives you the structure that someone struggling with ADHD desperately needs to prevent the risk of burnout. Here are some ways you could do so:

  • Setting a specific wake-up and bedtime
  • Set aside time to work or study
  • Making time for regular meals, so that you are giving yourself the fuel you need to complete daily tasks
  • Setting specific times for self-care so that you reduce stress

 

By making yourself a set schedule you are more likely not to feel overwhelmed and in doing so this will give you a sense of control over your life. Something that as someone living with ADHD desperately needs to avoid ADHD burnout.

Finding Strength in Connection

Seeking Support

As someone dealing with ADHD burnout, you probably find yourself feeling like no one understands you or what you’re going through, that’s just not the case. There are many people who struggle with if not the same but similar challenges. Reaching out for support can make a world of a difference in managing burnout and improving your overall well-being.

Whether it’s opening up to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re going through or if it’s joining a support group specifically for others living with ADHD. Remembering that at the end of the day, opening up and sharing the challenges you’ve experienced with ADHD burnout not only benefits you but also other people who may have at times felt like no one understood them as well.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Doing so shows that you are committed to taking control of your mental health and overall well-being and that you recognize the value that obtaining a support system provides you with. Know that you deserve to live a fulfilling life, and there is no shame in seeking the help you need to make it reality.3

From Burnout to Balance

Now that you have a better understanding of the causes and symptoms of ADHD burnout, it’s important for you to remember that although navigating adhd burnout can be challenging, it is possible. As long as you are sure to practice self-care, set realistic goals, and seek support to build up your chances of long-term resilience; you can take back control of your mental health and overall well-being.

Remember, you are not alone along this path towards a brighter and more balanced future. Here at Cornerstone Healing Center, we understand that navigating ADHD burnout can be challenging at times, but that with the right support, strategies, and mindset, it is possible!

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert
RECOVERY WRITER & ADVOCATE

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director
CLINICAL DIRECTOR & REVIEWER

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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