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Mindfulness Exercises To Help Manage ADHD – Evidence-Based Approaches

Written by: Prakash Rao, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Prakash Rao

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can make it challenging for individuals to pay attention, control impulsive behaviors, or remain still and quiet for extended periods (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). However, various strategies and techniques can help manage these symptoms, and mindfulness exercises are among the most effective (Zylowska et al., 2008).

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Mindfulness, at its core, is the practice of focusing one's awareness on the present moment, acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). For people living with ADHD, mindfulness exercises have been shown to improve concentration, reduce impulsivity, and foster emotional stability (Mitchell et al., 2017).

Here are some mindfulness exercises specifically tailored to help manage ADHD, supported by empirical research:

1. Mindful Breathing

The act of focusing on one's breath can help cultivate attention and calm the mind, making it an ideal exercise for individuals with ADHD (Tang et al., 2015). Here's how you can practice mindful breathing:

  • Sit comfortably in a quiet place, close your eyes, and start to notice your breath.

  • Pay attention to the sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen.

  • When your mind wanders (and it will), gently bring your attention back to your breath without judging yourself.

  • Start with just a few minutes each day, gradually increasing the time as your concentration improves.

2. Body Scan Meditation

A body scan meditation can help enhance focus and body awareness (UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, n.d.). It involves paying attention to different parts of the body, from toes to the head, and noticing any sensations, tension, or relaxation there.

  • Lie down comfortably and close your eyes. Start focusing on your toes, noticing any sensations there.

  • Gradually move your attention up through your feet, legs, torso, arms, and head. Be aware of each part of your body as you move your focus.

  • If your attention drifts, gently bring it back to the last body part you remember focusing on.

  • The body scan can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on your comfort and available time.

3. Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a great way to transform a daily activity into a mindfulness exercise, helping those with ADHD to increase their focus on the task at hand (Bays, 2009).

  • Choose a small piece of food, like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.

  • Before eating, take a moment to look at the food, noticing its color, texture, and smell.

  • As you eat, pay attention to the taste, texture, and sensation in your mouth. Chew slowly, savoring each bite.

  • Notice any thoughts or feelings that arise, and return your focus to the experience of eating.

4. Mindful Walking

For those who find it hard to sit still for traditional mindfulness exercises, mindful walking can be a great alternative (Singh et al., 2010).

  • Choose a quiet place where you can walk without interruption.

  • As you walk, pay attention to the sensation of your feet touching and leaving the ground.

  • Notice the movement in your legs and your body's balance. Feel the air around you and notice any smells or sounds.

  • If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the experience of walking.

5. Loving-kindness Meditation

People with ADHD often struggle with self-esteem and self-compassion due to the challenges they face daily (Langer et al., 2018). Loving-Kindness meditation can help cultivate self-love and acceptance (Salzberg, 1995).

  • Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.

  • Silently repeat phrases of goodwill toward yourself like, "May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be happy. May I live with ease."

  • As you become comfortable with directing loving-kindness toward yourself, you can extend these wishes to others: loved ones

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Prakash Rao Brainz Magazine

Prakash Rao, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Prakash Rao is learning skills guru. He transforms middle school and high school students into super learners. After a career in software development and consulting, Prakash pursued his interest in self development and helping children learn to learn. In this, he is following in his mother's footsteps – Dr. Indira S. Rao developed this methodology as part of her Ph.D. program with Prakash as the subject. Prakash is now the preeminent expert in Dr. Rao's methodology and has made it his mission to unlock children's learning potential and unleash the inner genius.



  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

  2. Bays, J. C. (2009). Mindful eating: A guide to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

  3. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Delta.

  4. Langer, A. I., Schmidt, C., Aguayo, F., & Reyes, R. (2018). Mindfulness and self-compassion in ADHD: A narrative review. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1014-1022.

  5. Mitchell, J. T., McIntyre, E. M., English, J. S., Dennis, M. F., Beckham, J. C., & Kollins, S. H. (2017). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotion dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(13), 1105-1120.

  6. Salzberg, S. (1995). Loving-kindness: The revolutionary art of happiness. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

  7. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Manikam, R., Winton, A. S., Singh, A. N., Singh, J., & Singh, A. D. (2010). A mindfulness-based health wellness program for individuals with Prader–Willi syndrome. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 3(2), 90-106.

  8. Tang, Y. Y., Holzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.

  9. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. (n.d.). Free guided meditations.

  10. Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D. L., Yang, M. H., Futrell, J. L., Horton, N. L., Hale, T. S., Pataki, C., & Smalley, S. L. (2008). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 737-746.

Image Credit:

  • Photo 74149792 | Mindfulness © Inara Prusakova |



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