ADHD: Turn Your Brain Off | Center for Growth Therapy

ADHD: Turn Your Brain Off

Emily — Intern therapist

ADHD Therapy: Turn Off Your Brain

Are you feeling easily burnt out? These days, that’s typical. Balancing the demands of everyday life probably means you're juggling numerous responsibilities and struggling to find time to turn your brain off from constant stimulation. For someone with ADHD, making it through the 8+ hour school or work day can seem like an impossible feat. Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may look and feel different for each individual, but mental fatigue is hard to remedy when ADHD makes it that much harder to turn your brain off.

During these times of ADHD burnout, you might be experiencing (and in need of ADHD Therapy):

  • Racing or jumbled thoughts

  • Day-dreaming

  • Brain fog

  • Fidgeting

  • Low motivation

  • Irritability

  • Overstimulation


Tradition says drinking large doses of caffeine and pushing through is the best solution. But if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be a sign that your brain needs a break, and begging to be turned off and in need of ADHD Therapy.

But why would you stop working if you have a long to-do list? On the surface, It seems counterproductive. The real question to consider is, “How can I best fulfill my goal when I am running on empty?”

While the default mindset might be to ‘manage’ or ‘fix’ your symptoms of ADHD by ignoring them, you’d only prolong the burnout phase where your brain doesn’t just turn off, it shuts down. All of which makes starting tasks and completing them all the more difficult.

A neurodivergent brain– a brain that works a little differently than others, takes a different type of fuel to run smoothly, or gets a different gas mileage. Meaning it is still capable and functional, but has to do things its own way in order to perform its best.

Scientifically speaking, studies show that individuals with ADHD have varying levels of dopamine; a chemical that acts as a catalyst in the brain and signals the nervous system to ignite feelings of pleasure and reward. Therefore, when dopamine levels are lower or inconsistent, feelings of motivation and attention span are proportionately affected. So if dopamine drives us to start and complete tasks of all kinds, having ADHD means yours is in short supply. To stick with the car analogy, a neurodivergent brain, like one with ADHD, might hit empty faster, but if allowed proper time at a rest stop, it can refuel and get back on the road.

So if you’re in need of help finding ways to turn your brain off, a technique commonly used in ADHD Therapy is:

Schedule intentional time to work AND rest throughout your day.

The Center for Growth adopts the popular time management system, called the Pomodoro technique in ADHD Therapy. Originally created in the late 80s by Francesco Cirillo, this system could be a great starting point. The method suggests that by working and resting in short intervals, you can maintain productivity for longer periods of time. The Pomodoro technique instructs you to cycle through working for 25 minutes and resting for 5 minutes to complete tasks.

But keep in mind, change comes about when you play to your strengths, don’t fight yourself and your ADHD tendencies. If 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off won’t work for you, follow these steps to personalize the Pomodoro technique:

Step 1: Reflect

  1. In the last week, how much time did you dedicate to a task when you were feeling your best?

  2. How much time were you productive?

  3. How much time were you distracted?

  4. Realistically, how much time can you dedicate to a task now that you need to turn your brain off?

Step 2: Explore Some Options That Could Help You Refuel

Grab a snack or non-alcoholic drink

Treating yourself to a favorite snack or drink releases dopamine, increasing drive to keep going, and at the same time, hydration and food keeps your energy up on long days.

Step outside for fresh air

When you’re feeling overwhelmed a trick to ground yourself is to engage different senses. Walking outside to experience a new temperature, smell or scenery gives you something other than your stressors to focus on and regulates your nervous system allowing you to refocus with a fresh perspective.

Take 10 deep breaths

Slow, deep breaths flood the body with oxygen and signal the nervous system to initiate rest and lower your heart rate. Purposeful breathing is another grounding technique that helps reset, stop the adrenaline spiral that accompanies overstimulation and stress.

Let yourself daze out

Don’t fight the feeling! Sometimes the most direct way to turn your brain off, is to turn your brain off. Allowing yourself to power down can be great for the mind and body. There is no objective except to let your world go quiet for a few minutes.

While these refuel options might turn your brain off in a conventional sense, they will all help to regulate and calm your brain while giving you an extra boost of dopamine to get you going again. Nothing is too simple, as long as it works!

Step 3: Set Your Task Timer For How Long You Aim to Work Towards Your Goal

Step 4: Set Your Refuel Timer For How Long You Aim to Rest

The best thing about this technique is: if something doesn’t work, it can always be adjusted.

Feel free to add or subtract a few minutes to your task timer or rest timer. You can even change up your refuel activity if you want to try a new way to turn your brain off. This remix on the Pomodoro technique works best when you abide by the timers you set. Try not to negotiate your goals OR your need for rest.

And remember, give yourself grace and trust that you can reach your goals with consistency and a little troubleshooting.

If you need additional support, The Center for Growth is here to help. We have licensed ADHD therapists available in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ocean City, New Jersey, Mechanicsville, Virginia, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Georgia and Florida. To book an ADHD Therapy appointment.



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