Breathing Exercises for ADHD: Breathe Your Way to Focus
As someone with ADHD, you may have noticed that your ability to focus and stay on task can be a constant struggle. The good news is that there are a variety of techniques available to help you manage your ADHD symptoms and improve your concentration! We are talking about breathwork, which involves controlled breathing exercises to promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve your focus! In this article, we will share with you how breathwork can help your ADHD symptoms and the insights we have gathered about breathing exercises for ADHD.
But first, let’s take a brief look at what both ADHD and breathwork are!
Table of Contents
- Breathing Exercises for ADHD: Breathe Your Way to Focus
What Is ADHD?
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurological condition that is common not only in children but also in adults.
This disorder is characterized by persistent and challenging symptoms, such as difficulty in maintaining attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Individuals with ADHD may struggle with tasks that require sustained focus, organization, and self-control, which can impact their daily lives, including academic or work performance and relationships.
Medication is commonly prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms, but many people are looking for alternative treatments that are more natural and less invasive. One such treatment is breathwork, which has been shown to be an effective technique for managing ADHD symptoms.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in kids and adults?
When it comes to ADHD, understanding the key symptoms is crucial for effective management and support. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, presents differently in children and adults, with specific ADHD symptoms in kids and ADHD symptoms in adults. Let’s explore these symptoms in more detail to help you recognize and address ADHD in both age groups.
1. ADHD symptoms in kids
Common ADHD symptoms in kids include:
- Frequent careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
- Difficulty maintaining attention in tasks or play.
- Appearing not to listen when spoken to directly.
- Difficulty following instructions and completing household chores.
- Forgetfulness in daily activities.
- Fidgeting, tapping hands or feet or fidgeting in a sitting position.
- Running or climbing in inappropriate situations.
- Inability to play quietly or participate in activities.
- Talking excessively, often blurting out answers or interrupting others.
- Struggling to stay seated when expected to do so.
- Impatiently waiting for their turn, often interrupting or taking over.
- Difficulty keeping emotions under control, leading to emotional outbursts.
- Acting without thinking, even in situations involving potential risk.
- Frequently interrupting others’ conversations or activities.
- Difficulty waiting for instructions or following rules.
- Emotional Dysregulation:
- Mood swings and outbursts of anger.
- Difficulty coping with disappointment and criticism.
- Low tolerance for delays or unexpected changes.
- Frequent feelings of restlessness and agitation.
2. ADHD in adults symptoms
ADHD symptoms often persist into adulthood, but they can manifest differently. Symptoms of ADHD in adults may include:
- Chronic disorganization in both personal and professional life.
- Difficulty focusing on tasks often leads to unfinished projects.
- Neglecting important details or making careless mistakes at work.
- Frequently losing or misplacing items such as keys, wallet or phone.
- Difficulty listening attentively to conversations, easily distracted.
- Relationship Difficulties:
- Difficulty maintaining long-term relationships due to forgetfulness and distraction.
- Frequent misunderstandings in communication, including interrupting others.
- Difficulty empathizing with others’ perspectives and feelings.
- Inconsistent attention and emotional availability in relationships.
- Chronic difficulties maintaining an organized living or work space.
- Struggles with prioritizing tasks and setting goals.
- Difficulty completing multi-step projects or following plans.
- Frequent procrastination and avoidance of boring tasks.
- Restlessness, often characterized by an inner feeling of restlessness.
- Difficulty relaxing or sitting still for long periods of time.
- Tendency to take on multiple tasks at the same time and often leave them unfinished.
- Frequent preoccupation with physically active hobbies or jobs.
- Racing thoughts and difficulty slowing down mentally.
- Impulsive spending leading to financial difficulties.
- Difficulty controlling anger or frustration, resulting in outbursts.
- Impulsive decisions in relationships or career changes.
- Speaking without thinking, leading to social or professional difficulties.
- Struggling with impulse control in situations involving addictive behaviors.
Understanding these ADHD symptoms in kids and ADHD in adults symptoms is the first step to effective management and support. Early identification and tailored interventions can make a significant difference in the lives of people living with ADHD, helping them succeed at school, work and in personal relationships. If you suspect that you or a loved one has ADHD, consider seeking professional evaluation and guidance for a more accurate diagnosis!
What Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is a form of therapy that involves conscious breathing techniques to improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. There are many different types of breathwork. Although they can all serve different purposes, at their core they all involve using the breath to facilitate relaxation, reduce stress and increase awareness.
Breathwork has been used for centuries in many cultures and has been proven by recent scientific studies to be an effective method for managing a range of conditions, including ADHD.
What are the benefits of breathwork for ADHD?
One of the most effective treatment methods to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which is known to exacerbate ADHD symptoms, would be breathwork. But, why?
When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol – a hormone that triggers the “fight or flight” response. In someone with ADHD, this can also cause “brain fog”, which can often make it difficult to concentrate and focus. By practicing regular breathing exercises, you can help your body relax, lower cortisol levels and reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and lack of inattention.
If you’re still not fully convinced that breathing exercises for ADHD can be incredibly beneficial, let us share some recent research with you:
- A study titled “The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Adults with ADHD” revealed that doing deep breathing exercises for only 15 minutes a day can significantly improve attention and reduce impulsivity in individuals with ADHD.
- “Impact of Yoga-Based Mindfulness Meditation on Cognitive Functions and Psychological Symptoms in ADHD: A Randomized Controlled Study” found that yoga-based breathing exercises can improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults with ADHD.
These studies prove that incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can be a simple and effective way to manage your ADHD symptoms.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some specific breathing techniques and breathing exercises for ADHD that can help you deal with your symptoms.
1. Diaphragmatic breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing exercise involves breathing into the diaphragm. This technique can help reduce your stress and anxiety. It is a fairly simple type of breathwork to practice.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Place one hand on your belly, just above your navel.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your belly expand.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth, feeling your belly deflate.
- Repeat, focusing on your breath and letting your body relax.
2. Box breathing
Box breathing technique balances the energy in your body, calms and clears your mind, regulates your blood pressure, improves your focus and emotional control.
In box breathing, one of the breathing exercises for ADHD, each step is practiced by counting to four. The most important thing to note when practicing this breathing exercise is that you repeat the same count for each step. Since breathing patterns vary from person to person, you can also try a different number that suits you best.
- To start box breathing, sit up straight or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Breathe in slowly through the nose, counting to 4.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through the nose for a count of 4.
- Count to 4 and repeat the process.
Tip: When practicing box breathing, focus on breathing from your diaphragm!
3. Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing technique involves breathing through one nostril at a time. It is very helpful for balancing the brain and reducing stress!
- Sit comfortably cross-legged with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and take a deep breath in through your left nostril.
- At the top point of your inhalation, use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril.
- Inhale deeply through your right nostril, then close it with your right thumb and exhale through your left nostril.
- You have completed one cycle of alternate nostril breathing! Now continue a few more times, alternating between the nostrils in this way every time you inhale and exhale.
- Try to maintain a steady rhythm and keep your breaths evenly timed throughout your practice.
Remember to focus on making your breathing slow, deep and smooth while practicing this breathing exercise!
Breathing exercises for better focus
If you have ADHD, we know that you may have difficulty focusing and concentrating. That’s why we have also compiled some simple breathwork techniques for you to improve your focus!
Before you check out our list below, it’s also worth taking a look at our article on how to concentrate during breathwork!
Now, let’s take a look at some breathing exercises that will help you to relax, reduce your stress and make it easier for you to focus.
1. Kapalabhati breath
Also known as Breath of Fire or Skull Shining Breath, this technique involves exhaling quickly and powerfully through your nose, followed by passive inhalation.
- Sit in a comfortable position, with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your hands on your lower abdomen and then take a slow, deep breath, filling your lungs with oxygen.
- You should feel your belly expanding as your lungs fill with air.
- After taking this breath, exhale strongly, using your diaphragm to expel the air from your lungs.
- Repeat this for several rounds, taking a deep breath between each round.
Follow our breathing coach as he explains how to do the Kapalabhati pranayama step by step!
2. Bhramari breath
The Bhramari breath exercise involves making a humming sound while breathing deeply. It’s a great breathwork technique that helps you focus by calming your mind and reducing your stress!
- Sit cross-legged with your spine straight.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth, making a soft “ahh” sound.
- Gently cover your ears with your thumbs and place the index fingers on your forehead. Your middle fingers should rest on the bridge of your nose and your ring fingers should be placed just above your nostrils.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose. As you exhale, press your ring fingers into your nostrils to partially close them. This will create a humming sound similar to a bee buzzing.
- Focus your attention on the sound of the humming and feel the vibrations in your head and face.
- When you are ready to finish the practice, release your fingers and t