The Women's Journal

Connecting ADHD & Wellness

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pip nc jas17 Liz Brown
Liz Brown, Be Well Life Coaching

When we think of treatment for ADHD, we typically think of medications. These medications are often an essential part of a treatment plan. However, there are non-medication interventions that are very helpful as well. While ADHD is not caused by a lack of exercise, or directly from stress, or by a lack of sleep, or by too much sugar, these factors contribute to increased ADHD symptoms. Adopting an overall wellness plan focusing on all four factors – exercise, stress management, sleep, and nutrition – helps manage and reduce ADHD symptoms. Here are some ways to get started..


The fact that physical exercise is good for the body is common knowledge; whether building strength, helping manage weight, lowering blood pressure, or reducing stress. What is not commonly recognized are the enormous cognitive benefits of exercise, especially for those with ADHD. Studies show that for some with ADHD, aerobic activity has provided some of the same benefits as stimulant medications. When following a consistent fitness routine, subjects have been able to work with their physician to adjust their medication intake.

Just as exercise improves circulation by increasing blood flow to our body, it also increases blood flow to the brain. Many with ADHD have less of the neurotransmitter dopamine in their brain than the neuro-typical (or non-ADHD) individual. Dopamine is one of the chemicals in the brain that controls attention and mood. The other neurotransmitter that controls attention is norepinephrine. When we exercise the levels of both chemicals rise and we not only feel better (sometimes called “runner’s high”), we also have a better ability to focus. .  


While there is a misconception that sugar causes ADHD, evidence does exist that sugar and other foods can, and often do, make ADHD symptoms worse. There is growing evidence that for all people, ADHD or otherwise, proper diet and nutrition are critical for maintaining and improving brain health.

Food is not only fuel for our body, it is fuel for our brains. The neurotransmitters which control our brain functions – dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine – all perform more efficiently and effectively with proper nutrition. Although many specialty diets promise relief from ADHD, there is strong skepticism among experts about the true benefits. It is important to discuss with your health care provider the relative benefits of any specific diet. Most experts agree that eating a diet rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and omega 3 fats, along with reducing processed foods, is a good start.  


Sleep deprivation is a problem for many and is particularly an issue for those with ADHD. As with sugar and the other exacerbators, lack of sleep does not cause ADHD, but it does make symptoms worse. People with ADHD are more likely to have problems with sleep. The reasons are many. For some, medications are the culprit. For others, their mind simply races at night. ADHD sufferers may have medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome or a problem with circadian rhythm. If the problem is medical in nature it should be evaluated by your doctor. 


While stress does not cause ADHD, it can increase its symptoms. The symptoms of ADHD are themselves stressful. It is doubly important therefore for ADHD sufferers to learn ways to relieve stress. Exercise, meditation or yoga, support and finding strategies to relieve the cause of the stress are some ways to start.  

Creating a Plan

To someone with ADHD it may seem overwhelming to try to improve in all these areas. That’s why it’s often best to work with a coach to improve one area at a time; to help break down a plan into manageable pieces. An ADHD Coach who specializes in Health and Wellness Coaching – or an ADHD Coach knowledgeable in each of these areas – can help a client create that plan and can then provide the support necessary to ensure success.


Liz Brown PCC is a Professional Certified Life Coach and Owner of Be Well Life Coaching. She is one of 1000 coaches internationally with the National Board Certification in Health and Wellness Coaching. In addition, she holds national certifications in ADHD Coaching, Recovery Coaching for Teens and Adults and is a Certified Career Direct Coach. At Be Well, Liz helps clients turn their personal and professional dreams, goals and visions into reality.  

Would you like more information?

  • Come see me present on this topic at the National ADHD Conference in Philadelphia on November 9th at 1 p.m.
  • Invite me to speak to your group or school.
  • Schedule a complimentary session.
  • Read my chapter (18) in the book “THE GUIDE TO ADHD COACHING” edited by Alan Graham, 2018 

Special Offer for New Clients

To schedule a complimentary one-hour session, please call me at (302)584-5521 or email [email protected]

Mention The Women’s Journal (offer expires 12/31/19)

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