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The ADHD Energy Menu - Self-maintenance and self-care strategies for those low/no energy days

This was not the content I planned on writing today. But what am I, if not a prime example of adult ADHD?

I had an amazing session with a client that led me down the rabbit hole of how do we care for ourselves when we are having a low-energy day? How do we decide what is necessary and what can be left for another time? How do we identify if we are being "lazy" or need rest? Why is it so hard to figure out what our bodies and minds need when we hit low energy?

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I want to start this off by saying you are not lazy. It does not matter if you didn't get out of bed until noon. It doesn't matter if you have dirty dishes in your sink. It doesn't matter if you couldn't get out of your pj's today. You are not lazy. You are a human being deserving of rest.

ADHD'ers live in extremes. We hit the ground running when we have high-energy days (or even moderate-energy days). We do all of the things because these moments of motivation feel so fleeting. But we have a tendency to run ourselves too hard. The next thing we know, we are tumbling down into the pits of burnout. Again.

This is not a moral failing. This is simply how your brain works.

Now we can definitely create strategies to help prevent burnout and kick-start task initiation. But you can't out-strategize how your brain works at a foundational level. You will still have days where you just can't find the energy, and you will still have days when you feel like a million bucks.

Now what?

ADHD Energy Menu

Working with our brains - even on the hard days.

Well, let's set low-energy us up for success. This starts with reframing our attitude around low-energy days. Low energy does not have to be bad. It can be a trigger to simply rest and indulge in things that make your body feel good (and will encourage a faster recovery!)

It can be really hard to identify what we need when we hit these energetic lows. We tend to be riddled with guilt and the idea that we can shame ourselves into productivity. We become fixated on "why" we are like this and how we stop. We focus on fighting the basic biological functions of our own brains.

Rather than spiraling into this increasingly intense battle with ourselves, let's create an ADHD energy menu. Something we can look at on low-energy days and say - "ok, this is what I need right now. This is all I'm going to do. And that is ok."

Self-Maintenance and Self-Care

There is a difference.

As you fill out your menu, it's important to remember the difference between self-maintenance and self-care.

I often hear people (especially neurodivergent adults) refer to self-maintenance tasks as "self-care." I hate to break it to you, but showering is not self-care. That is a basic human need. Showering is your right as a living, breathing human being. Showering is an activity that you need to do, at least occasionally, to take care of yourself. That is what self-maintenance tasks are. Things that you need to do to take care of yourself. On a no-energy day, your self-maintenance tasks may only include; drink a glass of water or taking my meds. That is 100% ok. This is where you list what you expect yourself to do for yourself on those days when it's a struggle to get out of bed.

Self-care is where you show yourself some love. This is a list of low/no energy-required activities you can do to help you feel good. This can include sitting outside, taking a bubble bath, or even binge-watching your favorite tv show. The important thing is that you prioritize allowing yourself the rest you need to get back on your feet.

This is an al la carte list. You do not have to do all of the things. That defeats the purpose. (Though you really should drink a glass of water and take your meds). Look at it as a cheat sheet for the days when it's really hard to figure out what you need. Fill it out and let it live in the drawer of your nightstand. Pull it out as needed.

The biggest takeaway here should be -

we need to reframe how we look at our behaviors and how we treat our brains. You are a creative, amazing, whole-ass human being - even if you take a day or two (or four) to allow yourself to rest. This is one of the most effective things you can do to avoid the big burnout. You are not a machine. Listen to your body. And if your body says so, hop into some clean jammies, take your meds, grab a cup of tea, climb back into bed, and binge-watch Letterkenny. (not speaking from experience or anything).

Click the link below to grab your FREE digital download (I know it says "buy now" it's lying to you)


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