The Seven Big Benefits of Pausing For People with ADHD

Ultimately, the quality of life for individuals with ADHD is affected by their ability to pause and use self-restraint - essentially applying your mind’s mental brakes. Pausing is the difference between reacting with old patterns of negative behavior that result in dire consequences, versus consciously responding by discerning your optimal options -before taking action- which can lead to a better outcome.

David Giwerc, Founder/President of the ADD Coach Academy, MCAC, MCC, presents “The Seven Big Benefits of Pausing for People with ADHD”, and explains how it can significantly improve your quality of life.

The seven benefits are: 

  • Improved self-restraint 
  • Improved emotional intelligence 
  • Prompts to remember to mindfully breathe deeply 
  • Balance of the emotional and the rationale parts of your brain to reduce stress 
  • Redirection of intrusive, negative, and anxious thoughts 
  • Improved ability to discern and make optimal decisions 
  • Empowerment so you focus on what's best in you

Improved self-restraint: Learn to turn on your pause button.

The mental pause button allows you to look at the world objectively and rationally. Pause and pay attention to what you are paying attention to, so that you can respond to what the present moment is asking for. When you react impulsively, it results in the same negative patterns that have occurred in the past.

Improved emotional intelligence: Identify the specific emotion you are feeling in the moment.

Learning the discipline of pausing is a crucial skill for managing and regulating your emotions in a positive way.

  • Pausing improves your ability to identify the emotion you are feeling rather than repressing them or ignoring them 
  • Repressing them causes emotional disharmony and physical discomfort. Identifying them is the key to good emotional intelligence

Science tells us that by taking time to pause and pay attention to the thought or emotion, and then to name it, you diminish its emotional power over you. It gives you the ability to observe it rather than be consumed by it. Name it, and you tame it.

For what it’s worth, research reveals that only about one-third of the world has this ability, and it’s even less common in, and more of a challenge, for the ADHD population.

Prompts to remember to mindfully breathe deeply:

Breathing deeply means in through the nose so that your stomach enlarges, and then exhaling it all out, three to five times. When you take shallow breaths, which is any breath that fails to make your stomach protrude, you are NOT giving your body and brain the amount of oxygen it needs.

Your brain alone demands a full 20% of your body’s oxygen supply. Shallow breathing deprives your brain of the oxygen, which leads to poor concentration, forgetfulness, mood swings, restlessness, depression, anxiety, and a lack of energy. Shallow breathing handicaps your ability to self-manage.

By pausing to notice the disharmony in your body and simply taking three to five large, deep breaths, you give your brain the ability to dramatically improve self-regulation of your emotions.

This means that breathing correctly and deeply one of the simplest yet most powerful resources you can utilize to manage your emotions.

Balance of the emotional and the rationale parts of your brain to reduce stress

Many people tell me they feel a sensation of calmness and clarity when they take deep breaths. But our brains are hardwired to automatically give our emotions the upper hand.

The information from all of your senses moves through your body in the form of electrical signals. These signals pass from cell to cell, until they reach your brain. They enter your brain at the base, near your spinal cord, but eventually want to reach your frontal lobe behind your forehead, the place where rational, logical thinking occurs.

The big challenge is that they pass through your limbic system along the way—the source of your emotional responses. Unfortunately, this journey ensures you experience things emotionally before your rational reasoning can kick into gear.

The frontal lobe can't stop the emotion you feel from your limbic system. However, the two areas do influence each other and maintain constant communication.

Pausing and breathing allows the balance between the emotional and irrational parts of your brain so that you can reason and respond, rather than react. If you don’t pause and breathe deeply, the strong emotions take over.

Redirection of intrusive negative and anxious thoughts:

Engage your rational brain in the moment. In addition to engaging your rational brain on the spot, breathing right and pausing is a great tool for shifting your focus away from intrusive, uncomfortable, negative thoughts that you need to shake off.

Whether you are overcome by anxiety and stress, or fixated on negative thoughts and feelings, breathing deeply calms you down and makes you feel better by accessing the executive functions, like critical thinking and decision making. The physiological tools needed for prioritizing are located in your rational brain in the prefrontal cortex, which benefits from this breathe-and-pause procedure.

Improved ability to discern and make optimal decisions:

Improving the chaos of your mind will help you handle feelings of being overwhelmed with information overload. Pausing allows you to filter out all the extraneous information and focus on what's important, with greater clarity. It gives you the ability to get grounded so you can access and discern your best available options for a specific task, goal, or project.

Empowerment so you focus on what's best in you:

Pausing supports your ability to focus on what's important to who you are. It energizes you. Rational, emotional balance helps you fight off intrusive negative thoughts.

By using cues and prompts when you pause, you can overcome the negative bias the brain automatically focuses on in order to mindfully redirect your attention to your character strengths. When you pause to pay attention to what's best in you and align those traits, the quality and richness of your life will be enhanced. You will be creating an inner process for flourishing and living a fulfilling life.