7 Strategies for ADHD Adults to Break Free From Overthinking

By Madeline Farquharson, CPCC

If your brain feels like a whirlwind, constantly churning out thoughts, worries, and self-criticisms faster than you can process them, you've come to the right place. That incredible, always-on brain of yours is brilliant, but it can also feel like an exhausting, out-of-control supercomputer. But here's the thing: there are ways to harness that power and find some much-needed calm within the chaos.

P.S. You may also identify with this even without an ADHD diagnosis. The Diagnosis is only if it's helpful to you. Nothing should stop you from building resonance and understanding yourself more. The examples here are simply to help this article get discovered by people who find it helpful.

Why Rumination is an ADHD Trap

We all overthink sometimes, but for those with ADHD, it can reach overwhelming levels. That constant search for mental stimulation, driven by your brain's need for dopamine, can send you down rabbit holes of analysis and worry. It's exhausting, and that well-meaning advice to "just relax" or "stop thinking about it" often makes it worse. It leaves you feeling stuck and ashamed – as if there's something wrong with the way you're wired.

  • The Dopamine Dilemma: Your ADHD brain is a bit of a dopamine fiend - always searching for something interesting to boost those feel-good chemicals. Overthinking can give a temporary hit but ultimately leaves you more anxious and unfulfilled. It's like those mental rabbit holes you dive down, expecting a reward but finding only more worry.
  • Stuck Between Thinking and Doing: You're insightful, seeing the big picture and all the possibilities. But translating that brilliance into action? That's where things get fuzzy. This "analysis paralysis" is classic ADHD – the gap between understanding and doing feels impossible to bridge. Couple that with a tendency to intellectualize emotions rather than truly feel them, and it's no wonder you feel stuck and frustrated.
  • Perfectionism: The Ultimate Procrastinator: That burning desire to get things absolutely perfect? It's often a mask for fear of failure. The pressure to do it all "right" becomes an overwhelming mountain you can't imagine climbing, so you never even lace up your boots.

Does this ring true? The trick is to break the cycle and redirect the power of your amazing brain into actions that bring you real joy and satisfaction.

Breaking the Overthinking Cycle: Tips for ADHD Adults Right Now

  1. Get Physical (in Tiny Bursts): No, we're not talking a full workout. When you're spiraling, shake your body vigorously, do a silly dance, or punch a pillow. This physical disruption helps reset your overstimulated brain.
  2. Distract with Purpose: Mindlessly scrolling social media might make it worse. Instead, try the "5-4-3-2-1" technique: Name 5 things you see, 4 you hear, 3 you feel, 2 you smell, and 1 you taste. This shifts your focus outward.
  3. Name That Thought Monster: Give your overthinking a ridiculous name ("Frantic Francine," perhaps?). This creates a bit of distance and helps you notice when that familiar voice is running the show.
  4. Find Your People: Many with ADHD feel deeply misunderstood. Seek online communities or support groups where you can process your thoughts with those who truly get it.

Long-Term Strategies for Rewiring Rumination

  1. Tiny Bits of Mindfulness: Big, formal meditation can be overwhelming. Start with 1-minute body scans: Notice any sensations in your body without judgment. Even noticing your feet on the ground helps!
  2. Challenge Your Inner Critic: Are those negative thoughts true, or just an old, worn-out record playing in your head? Write down alternative, more compassionate possibilities.
  3. Victory Log: Your brain might overlook wins in its search for problems. Keep a simple list of things you DID accomplish each day, no matter how small. Seeing it on paper builds a sense of success.

Remember: You Are Not Broken

Your sensitivity to the world, your constant questioning, your ability to see connections others miss – these are strengths in need of direction, not flaws to be fixed. This journey takes time and kindness towards yourself.

You deserve to feel calm within your own brilliant mind.

If you're ready for more support in breaking these patterns, I'd love to chat. Hop on my calendar for a free 30-min chat to see if coaching or therapy may be a good fit.