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Natural ADHD Alternatives To Medication

Natural ADHD Management is something of a special interest to me. After my diagnosis, I was prescribed medication, but I wasn’t able to take it, due to having a pre-existing heart condition.  I remember feeling distraught at the time, as in my head, I had thought that ADHD medication might ‘fix me’. I’d spent pretty much my whole life feeling like I was different to everyone else, that I didn’t fit in. And, as an adult, that translated to a deep feeling of shame that I was acutely rubbish at adulting. 

On reflection, I  am now grateful that I wasn’t able to take medication and natural ADHD management has become second nature to me now. 

As always, it’s important to understand that I write from my own unique perspective and experiences as an autistic ADHD woman. Whether you are both autistic and ADHD, or ADHD only, your experiences and perspective will be unique to you.

Choosing to take medication or choosing natural ADHD alternatives will be very personal to you.  This is judgement free space, where every individuals choices are respected and honoured.  

Throughout this blog, I’ll share insights, tips and tools that are natural ADHD management alternatives. Some have worked for me, others haven’t. And before we go any further, here’s something I’d like  you to remember…..

Managing ADHD: Naturally or With Medication

Before we go any further, I invite you to give this some thought…

When it comes to managing your ADHD, whether through medication or natural ADHD methods (or a combination of both), I invite you to think of each tool, tip, medication, supplement, and piece of advice like a hat. Try it out, and see if it fits and work out whether it suits you. If it does, then it’s a keeper, if it doesn’t, then leave it where it is and try another one on.  It’s also worth considering that what works for you right now, might not work for you in the future. Life is fluid, and therefore your toolkit for managing your ADHD will need to change with you.

I wish that someone had explained this to me, after my diagnosis. I consumed so much content about different tools to use, different techniques to use, and what I ‘should’ be doing. But, rather than have the approach of trying things out to see if they worked, they became my new rule and I forced myself to try and make things work that were just causing me anxiety and stress. It left me feeling hopeless and as if I was beyond any help. 

The truth is, not everything will work for everyone. Our traits, experiences, and lives are so different – it’s not a one-size-fits-all. So, take what serves you well right now, and leave the rest. 

And, whilst this blog focuses on natural ADHD management, it’s worth noting that not all medications suit everyone. There are different drugs available, and different doses. So, if you feel that your current medications aren’t working for you, talk to your GP or specialist. 

Natural ADHD management with lifestyle

Genuinely, my top natural ADHD management techniques have been based on managing my lifestyle and truly understanding my own ADHD.  We each have our own unique traits, and they will affect us in different ways. Taking the time to understand your strengths and your challenges, can help you to manage your ADHD in a way that feels right for you. 

My diagnosis gave me immediate self-compassion and empathy. All the things I had beaten myself up over for decades, fell away. I started to view those parts of me differently, and the shame was replaced with pride of what I had been able to cope with and achieve, in a world that simply was not designed to support me. 

I realised that there were a number of lifestyle factors, within my control, that affected how my ADHD affected me.  I highly recommend taking some time to reflect on where you feel that your ADHD becomes your strength, and where you feel triggered, challenged, overwhelmed, or out of control. Just identifying those factors can help you structure your life to support you. Here are some things that I find really helpful; 


Exercise:  This can really help improve concentration and mood. I vary my exercise from the  Peloton bike, yoga, and strength training. I tend to stay at moderate intensity, as above that can trigger too much cortisol and adrenaline in me, which can overstimulate my brain. 

Breathing Techniques: Box breathing is my go-to when my brain feels scrambled and I’m feeling anxious. I breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, breathe out for 4, and hold for 4. This technique has been proven to reduce cortisol levels in the brain and calm the nervous system.  

Sleep: My ADHD can be nearly impossible to manage if I haven’t slept well. This is when my brain will scramble even the simplest of tasks and information. I had to overhaul my sleep routine, post-diagnosis, and it made a significant difference in my ability to cope. There are many different tools and techniques for sleep. My personal preference has been a Lumi alarm clock that simulates sunrise and sundown, to release the right chemicals in the brain. There’s a great book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, that helped me to understand the importance of sleep.

Nutrition: As much as I hated to admit it, sugar wasn’t my friend – as much as I love it! A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support cognitive function and emotional well-being. This can be challenging if you have food sensory challenges, which I have – so I had to get a little creative to be able to get better nutrients into my body. I’m not perfect with this, but I do my best and cut myself some slack when things wobble! 

Supplements: While not a substitute for medication, some people find that certain supplements may offer some benefit in managing ADHD symptoms. Always consult with a healthcare professional regarding supplements. I have personally had great success with London Nootropics adaptogen coffees, their Flow and Zen blends have helped me with my focus and concentration. I have also taken Ayurvedic supplements, and if you are looking to go down this route, I highly recommend Dr Sam Watts at Mind Body Medical. 


Tools For Natural ADHD Management

OK, confession time – this is where I fell flat on my face when it came to natural ADHD techniques. I am absolutely useless when it comes to technology.  I can’t use most apps, or open any form of a spreadsheet, as they scramble my brain in a way that it’s difficult to articulate – but maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about?? 

But, for many of you who are ADHD, they may be your little saviours!  I forced myself to keep using these tools, ashamed of the fact I couldn’t use them, my anxiety building by the minute, and a feeling of being so hopeless that nothing was going to work for me.  Then, when I stopped forcing myself to use them, things changed. It was during my journey of deep self understanding that I started to understand that these tools are all like hats. If they don’t fit or suit you, don’t use them.  I now don’t have ANY apps for my ADHD and life is so much sweeter for it!

If, however, tools and apps are your jam, then check out some of these:

Here are 10 popular apps that you might find helpful: 

  1. Forest: This app encourages users to stay focused on tasks by growing virtual trees during periods of focused work.

  2. Microsoft To Do: It helps manage tasks, set reminders, and keep track of “to-dos” in a simple interface.

  3. Headspace: A mindfulness and meditation app that can assist with managing stress and improving focus.

  4. Trello: A project management tool that’s very visual and allows for collaboration, helping keep track of tasks and projects.

  5. Evernote: A note-taking app that helps manage and organize digital notes, making it easier to keep track of ideas and tasks.

  6. RescueTime: This app tracks time spent on different apps and websites, helping users understand their digital habits and manage digital distractions.

  7. Focus@Will: Provides music channels that are scientifically optimized to help you focus on your work.

  8. Asana: To help you stay on track with projects and deadlines. 

  9. Todoist: A task manager that’s useful for tracking daily tasks and responsibilities.

  10. Sensa: cognitive-behavioural therapy-based tool, Sensa empowers you to understand, manage, and reshape your thoughts, behaviours, and emotions more effectively.

Here’s one I am a big fan of – visual aids and vision boards.  You may find that using whiteboards, sticky notes, or other visual tools to provide constant reminders and aid task management.

Time Management: Timers, and techniques like the Pomodoro Technique are popular choices to manage focus and break tasks into manageable chunks. Time blocking is another one that many rave about. 

One thing I would say on time management is don’t try and force yourself to use a technique that doesn’t work for you. I have more planners than I care to confess to (you too?), and none of the time management apps or tools are effective for me. Please don’t force yourself to manage your time in a way that feels uncomfortable for you.  If you are autistic and/or ADHD then energy levels will fluctuate, and in my experience, it’s best to honour those flow states.  Allowing for some flexibility, whilst staying on track can be an effective strategy for managing ADHD. 

I have learned that I am most effective when I have a 90-day goal, that’s aligned with my big goal or vision.  I can then work backward and decide what I need to do each month to hit the 90-day goal. Then I work backward weekly.  From that weekly list, I pick 1-3 tasks daily, depending on how I’m feeling. I don’t try and force myself to record videos on days my energy levels are low, nor do I want to be doing more mundane tasks when my energy levels are high! 

Create a supportive environment

When it comes to natural ADHD management, it helps to understand your ADHD and how it impacts you. In particular, understanding things that trigger you, or you find challenging, can help you find ways that you can effectively support yourself. 

Supportive Environment: How do you work best? Do you need a quiet environment, with no distractions? Or perhaps you work better with background noise or music playing? I need minimal distractions and a calm environment to work from. I find it impossible to keep my desk clutter-free, which I used to beat myself up over – now I embrace it because it feels safe and I know where everything is. 

Sensory Adjustments: Do you struggle with noise, bright lights, or if there are too many people around you? You could try things like noise-cancelling headphones, or soft lighting, to enhance comfort and focus.  I find that natural daylight works best for me, so my desk is against a window, and if I am out and about for work, I wear either Flare or Loop earplugs, which help to block out a lot of the background noise. 

Impulse Control: Do you struggle with making impulsive decisions, or purchases? If so, can you put a step or block in place that holds you back? For example, I don’t have any stored credit card information on my laptop anymore, and if I have a big business decision to make, I talk it through with a coach, mentor, or accountability partner. That helps me diffuse and manage the initial excitement and stop me acting on impulse. 

Emotional Regulation: Struggling with emotional regulation can be exhausting, trust me – I’ve been there. Having a trusted friend, coach or peer can be helpful so that you have someone to talk to. You may find this blog on Rejection sensitive dysphoria helpful too. 

Healthy Boundaries: I believe this is one of the most important things to consider with natural ADHD management strategies. I’ve left it as the last one in this section, as I wanted it to be the last one you read.  Having clear boundaries in place, and confidently standing by them can be pivotal in managing overwhelm and burnout. Being clear about what you can and can’t deliver and support on, and honouring your own needs will help to relieve the pressure. You do not have to do it all! My three key words to help with this are DELEGATE, AUTOMATE, and ELIMINATE. Make life easier for yourself, you can’t be all of the things to all of the people. 

Natural ADHD Management v Medication

Only you can decide whether to opt for natural ADHD management, or whether medication is the right choice for you. In my experience of speaking with many other ADHD and autistic women, I have found that even for those who take medication, there’s a lot of value to be found in deeply understanding our own unique experiences of ADHD. 

Through focusing on your strengths and learning how to harness them to your full potential, can help you thrive and flourish, in a way that only those of us with neurodiverse minds can. 

Understanding your unique challenges and needs, and honouring them, can ensure you minimise your triggers and create a supportive environment in which you can thrive. 

If you’re struggling, then please reach out and I’d be happy to have a chat with you.  I remember feeling the panic rise when I realised that medication wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t able to make a choice of whether to medicate or take a natural ADHD management approach. But, a couple of years on and I’m thriving, and I am continually learning how to adapt and flow with my ADHD, so that I can be happy and successful, whilst looking after myself. So, if you have discovered that medication isn’t an option for you, please don’t panic. I promise you will be just fine. There are some fantastic support groups and coaches around who will be able to support you, in whichever way you need. 

I hope that you have found my blog on natural ADHD management insightful and interesting. As I mentioned at the start, I write from a place of being both autistic and ADHD, and these are just my own experiences. We all have unique and have our own lived experiences. 

Until next time, stay brilliant, stay bold, and go out and shine your incredible light in the world.

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Until next time, Nikki x