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Embracing the ADHD Rhythm: Pace and Rest for Optimal Energy Flow

Don't want to read through the long version? Scroll to the bottom for the TL;DR.

Understanding Your Energy

Hey there, fellow ADHDers! Today, we are going to delve into a practical method for managing your energy— the Pace and Rest method. I was first taught this framework in a workshop with one of my favourite authors on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Russ Harris. This method is all about finding a rhythm that works for you without the pressure to always be on. Let's explore this approach together!

Balancing Act - Unpacking "Pace"

Pace: Adjusting what you do to match your energy reserves

Have you ever felt the relentless pressure to keep up? This method can offer relief.

It's not about racing through life but rather tailoring your efforts to align with your energy levels, encouraging a more adaptable approach to your daily activities.

To figure out your pace, break tasks into manageable chunks, work for as long as your focus allows, and incorporate breaks as needed to maintain a sustainable rhythm.

Certain days may bring high energy and capacity, while others might bring low energy and reduced capacity. Both are inherent aspects of the human experience and are equally valid. It is unrealistic to expect peak performance every day at 100%.

How to pace your week:

Here are some ways to modify your pace throughout the week depending on your energy levels and capacity each day:

1. Work Tasks:

  • Vary Intensity: Schedule high-intensity tasks on high-energy days and reserve low-energy days for less demanding work.

  • Prioritize: Identify critical tasks for high-energy days and prioritize them accordingly. If this isn’t something you know how to do, ask a trusted person in your life to help you prioritize or try using AI.

2. Exercise Routine:

  • Adaptive Workouts: Adjust the intensity and duration of workouts based on your energy levels.

  • Restorative Activities: Incorporate low-impact exercises or activities like yoga, walking, or stretching on lower energy days.

3. Social Commitments:

  • Selective Events: Choose social events wisely, attending those aligning with your current energy levels.

  • Shorter Interactions: Opt for shorter social interactions on low-energy days to avoid burnout.

4. Self-Care Practices:

  • Mindful Relaxation: Practice mindfulness or meditation on days when you need mental rest.

  • Adapted Sleep Schedule: Allow yourself extra rest on low-energy days by adjusting your sleep schedule.

5. Learning and Development:

  • Segmented Study Sessions: Break down learning tasks into shorter, focused sessions.

  • Varied Learning Methods: Explore different learning approaches based on your cognitive energy.

6. Household Responsibilities:

  • Staggered Chores: Spread out household chores across the week rather than tackling them all at once.

  • Permission for Imperfection: Allow yourself to do only a part of a task if you don’t have the capacity for the entire task. Aim for 1% better even if that means the task is incomplete.

  • Delegate Tasks: If possible, delegate specific tasks to others on days when your energy is limited.

7. Creative Pursuits:

  • Inspired Moments: Embrace creativity during high-energy bursts; allow for spontaneity.

  • Low-Key Creativity: Engage in less-demanding creative activities during lower energy periods.

Remember, the key is flexibility and self-awareness. Adapt these examples to suit your individual needs and preferences, recognizing that accommodating different paces contributes to a more sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle.

Genuine Recharge - The Essence of "Rest"

Rest: “Recharge your batteries after you’ve exerted yourself” (Russ Harris)

Now, let's talk about "Rest." It's not a cure-all, but it's a crucial part of preventing burnout. Think of it as hitting pause on the chaos and giving yourself the space to recover—no glittery expectations attached.

The 7 Types of Rest:

  1. Physical Rest: Get the sleep you need.

  2. Mental Rest: Find moments of stillness without the expectation of a clear mind.

  3. Emotional Rest: Engage in activities that bring comfort, even if they're small.

  4. Sensory Rest: Diminish external stimuli when you can but don't stress about perfection. This might look like soft lighting, using ear plugs, or taking breaks in the dark. Incorporate preferred sensory input if it recharges you. This can be done through playing preferred sounds like music or nature sounds, or adding a weighted blanket if you like pressure.

  5. Creative Rest: Find simple ways to express yourself, no masterpiece required.

  6. Social Rest: Take time for yourself without the guilt of missing out.

  7. Spiritual Rest: Connect with what brings you meaning without the need for grand revelations.

Experimenting with Curiosity

Curiosity: Your Compass to a Sustainable Life

As you explore the Pace and Rest Method, know that there's no magic solution. It's about experimenting with what feels right for you. Life isn't a constant high, and that's okay. Be curious about what genuinely recharges you without the pressure to always be operating at 100%.

So, fellow ADHD-er, take a step at your own pace. The world is there to be navigated, and with the Pace and Rest method, you're equipped to navigate it authentically. Reclaim your energy in a way that works for you, and find contentment in the journey ahead.

It's not about avoiding what drains you; it's about finding what genuinely fills you up. Let the Pace and Rest Method be a guide, not a rigid rule, and see how your path unfolds.


TL;DR: Manage your energy with the Pace and Rest method; adjusting activities to your energy levels and embracing the seven types of rest. Experiment with curiosity and find what genuinely recharges you without the pressure to always be operating at 100%.

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