If you have ADHD, managing “flash emotions” can be especially challenging. For example, the sudden intensity of rage can be overwhelming and hard to manage. Without tools, it is far too easy to undo a relationship or career opportunity in under a nano-second before you can filter the words coming out of your mouth or through the keyboard. Fortunately, with strategies and a humorous mindset, it is possible to handle these intense emotions in a healthy way. 

Here are some tips for managing flash emotions with ADHD:

Use hyperactivity to your advantage. Instead of letting the energy of your emotions consume you, channel them into physical activity. Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks or dance around your room. Physical activity can help you burn off excess energy and allow you to focus your mind.

STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD. This is a vital policy when it comes to sudden negative emotions. Create a “cooling off” routine. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or pissed off, step away from the situation and take a moment to do something calming. This could be listening to music, doing deep breathing exercises, or even showering. Having a go-to calming routine can help you manage the intensity of your emotions.

Practice mindfulness. Take a few minutes to focus on your breathing and observe your thoughts without judgment. This can help you develop a greater sense of awareness and control. If you don’t have a regular practice of some kind, I highly recommend it starting one! Part of my coaching modality is grounded in an emotional fitness technique called Positive Intelligence, which is about becoming aware of and separating from (not suppressing) negative emotion so that you aren’t acting out of it. Classic meditation techniques are a precursor to this more modern methodology, so try Transcendental Meditation or Vipassana if you’re so inclined. There are countless techniques out there.  I recommend picking one and just doing that for a few months.  Then seeing how the past 60-90 days have gone regarding managing flash emotions.

Seek support from others. Talking to a trusted friend, coach, or therapist can help you work through your emotions and develop coping strategies. You need to have a support system in place to manage the challenges of ADHD…especially the intense emotionality that can come with it!

Embrace your sense of humor. Laughter can be a great way to manage intense emotions. (Trust me, I wouldn’t have stayed married for over 30 years if my husband and I couldn’t crack each other up.). Humor allows you to take a step back from the drama of your emotions and regain perspective on the grand scheme of things.

Managing flash emotions with ADHD can be tough but not impossible. By using physical activity, calming routines, mindfulness, seeking support, and embracing humor, you can learn to manage your emotions in a healthy and productive way. How do you manage ‘flash emotions’? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.