Tips and Techniques

ADHD & Impulse Mastery: Brain Training for Wise Choices

Transform impulsivity into deliberate choices with effective strategies. Ideal for individuals navigating ADHD challenges to enhance decision-making skills.

Written by

Jacqui Walker

Published On:

Jan 10, 2024

Two professionals studying ADHD and impulse mastery
Two professionals studying ADHD and impulse mastery
Two professionals studying ADHD and impulse mastery

Struggling with impulse control can feel like you're at the mercy of your own mind, especially when you're dealing with ADHD. 

But what if you could train it to make better decisions? That's not just wishful thinking; it's entirely possible.

In this article, you'll discover strategies to enhance your decision-making skills, even when ADHD is part of the equation. You'll learn how to harness the power of your brain, turning impulsiveness into a choice rather than a compulsion. 

The Impact of ADHD on Impulse Control

The Impact of ADHD on Impulse Control

With ADHD, impulse control is often a significant hurdle. You might find yourself in situations where you've made a snap decision that you regret almost immediately. 

This isn't just about lacking willpower; it's like your brain's brakes are less responsive. It takes more effort to stop or switch gears, particularly when an idea or desire catches your attention.

Common Misconceptions: One of the biggest myths about ADHD is that it's a problem of discipline and that if you just tried harder, you'd be able to control your impulses. 

In reality, ADHD is about brain chemistry, not effort. So cut yourself some slack – it's not about simply making a choice to focus or behave differently.

Practical Tips: Here's the thing: while impulse control might be tougher for you, it's not impossible to manage. 

Start by scaffolding: Set up your environment to minimise the chances of impulsive decisions. 

This could mean removing temptations or using reminders and apps to keep you on track. 

Consider the Traffic Light method: When faced with a decision, stop (red), think about the consequences (amber), and then proceed with the best action (green).

Techniques and Methods: Behavioural therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) could be useful, as they provide strategies to cope with impulsivity and train your focus. Also, educational and vocational interventions are important. 

They can help you structure your learning or work environments to play to your strengths. And don't overlook the power of physical exercise; regular movement can significantly improve concentration and impulse control.

Incorporating practices such as mindfulness meditation has been shown to enhance self-control and attention. Think of it as training your brain, just like you'd train muscles at the gym. 

By routinely practising mindfulness, you train your brain to pause before acting on impulse.

Guidance on the Best Routes: Be patient with yourself as you navigate the waters of ADHD and impulse control. It's not a straight path, and what works for others might not be your best route. 

Keep trying different strategies and tools until you find a mix that feels right. And remember, a specialist in ADHD can be a valuable guide on this journey, offering tailored strategies that fit your unique brain wiring.

The Importance of Training Your Brain

Living with ADHD often feels like you're the pilot of a super-fast jet with unpredictable controls. Training your brain can help you grip the steering tight and navigate life's skies with a bit more finesse.

1. How Impulse Control Affects Decision-Making

Imagine your brain's impulse control as a brake system in a car; when it's working well, you can pause and give yourself a moment to think before making a move. 

For those with ADHD, this system often has a few glitches. It's like you've slammed on the gas pedal before realising there was a stop sign.

  • Delayed Response: With training, you can teach your brain to delay that impulse, kind of like counting to 10 before you react.

  • Better Choices: Just like a skilled chess player, you'll learn to think a few steps ahead rather than making a move without strategy.

In day-to-day life, this means you might find yourself resisting the urge to impulsively interrupt conversations or purchase something on a whim.

2. Long-Term Consequences of Poor Impulse Control

Neglecting the development of impulse control can be likened to skipping leg day at the gym—eventually, the imbalance catches up with you. 

Poor impulse control may lead to:

 Long-Term Consequences of Poor Impulse Control

By investing time in impulse control, you're building a more secure foundation for your relationships, career, and bank balance.

3. Building Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

Self-awareness is being the author of your own story rather than a character without a script. When you understand your triggers and habits, you can start to edit your responses. 

Techniques include:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: This can help you stay present and reduce knee-jerk reactions.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It's like having a personal trainer for your brain, guiding you through exercises that strengthen your control.

Regular practice gradually shifts your automatic response from impulsive to deliberate. By building self-awareness:

  • You recognise when you're on autopilot and can switch to manual control.

  • You understand the why behind your impulses, which allows you to address the root cause.

Meanwhile, self-regulation is about maintaining balance; think of it as the thermostat in your home. 

With both awareness and regulation:

  • Stressful situations won't always lead to outbursts.

  • You'll find yourself navigating social settings with more grace.

Improving impulse control isn't about removing spontaneity from life; it's about choosing the moments to be spontaneous while steering clear of actions you'll regret later. 

Practices like CBT or mindfulness aren't magic wands, but with consistent use, they can have a transformative effect on your decision-making process. Different strategies work for different people, so it's all about trial and error to discover what clicks for you.

Strategies for Training Your Brain

When you're dealing with ADHD, training your brain can be your secret weapon for enhancing impulse control. Just like you'd train your muscles to get stronger, you can train your brain to make better decisions. 

Here's a little toolbox of strategies that might resonate with your unique needs:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Imagine you've got a personal trainer for your brain – that's kind of what CBT is like. It's not about sitting on a couch talking about your childhood; it's a hands-on approach to solving problems. 

CBT helps you identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more constructive ones.

Common misconceptions? That therapy is endless or only for those in crisis. CBT is actually time-limited and goal-oriented, so you'll have a roadmap to follow. It's practical, you know, like following a recipe. 

Tips to get the most out of CBT:

  • Be open to homework. Yes, there's a bit of work involved outside of the sessions.

  • Keep a thought diary. It's like tracking your diet when you're trying to eat healthy.

  • Practice consistently. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is impulse control.

2. Mindfulness Practices

Think of mindfulness as your brain's pause button. Mindfulness practices help you sit with your thoughts without judgment, and this can be a game-changer for impulse control. 

It's like taking a step back and watching the traffic instead of jumping straight onto the road.

People often slip up thinking mindfulness requires hours of meditation. Not true. Even small doses, like a few minutes a day, can make a significant difference. 

Here's how to weave it into your life:

  • Try smartphone apps that guide you through short meditations.

  • Introduce mindfulness bells – regular chimes to remind you to check in with the present moment.

  • Concentrate on your breathing whenever you're waiting – at the red light, in the queue, anywhere.

3. Exercise and Physical Activities

If your body's buzzing like a busy bee, channel that energy into physical activity. Think of exercise as your natural dose of dopamine, the 'feel-good' hormone. 

Regular exercise can help with mood regulation and focus, acting like a natural form of medication for ADHD.

Folks sometimes jump into high-intensity workout regimes they can't sustain. Start small – take walks, stretch, or dance to your favorite tunes in your room. 

Ways to stay on track with exercise are:

  • Choose activities you genuinely enjoy.

  • Set realistic and achievable goals.

  • Pair up with a workout buddy for accountability.

4. Developing Routines and Structures

Envision your day as a series of dominoes – one action seamlessly leading to the next. Creating routines is all about setting up those dominoes. Established routines can reduce decision fatigue and impulsivity, offering a clear structure to your day.

A common trip-up is overcomplicating your routines. Keep it simple, so you’re more likely to stick with it. 

Here are a few steps for building effective routines:

  • Begin with anchoring events, like mealtimes or bedtime, and build around those.

  • Use visual reminders, like charts or planners, to keep track of your tasks.

  • Celebrate small wins. Each day you follow through, you're one step closer to a smoother ride.

Remember, it's not one-size-fits-all. You've got to try these strategies out, tweak them, and see what resonates with you. 

And with each strategy, it's all about laying one brick at a time. Before you know it, you'll have built a solid foundation for making better decisions.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Creating a Supportive Environment

When you're managing ADHD, it can feel as if your environment is either your strongest ally or your greatest enemy. Setting up surroundings that bolster impulse control isn't just helpful; it's a game-changer. 

Below are ways you can tailor your environment to support your needs and enhance your decision-making processes:

1. Designing a Distraction-Free Workspace

Imagine you're a chef in a kitchen. If your workspace is cluttered with unnecessary gadgets and ingredients, it's harder to cook effectively, right? 

The same goes for your workspace; it should be a tailored area where everything has its purpose and nothing extra is vying for your attention.

  • Start by identifying things that frequently distract you. It might be your phone, social media, or even outside noise.

  • Create physical or digital boundaries. Use noise-cancelling headphones or set app limits to reduce digital interruptions.

  • Organize your desk so it only contains the tools you need for specific tasks. Keep it simple, and declutter regularly.

Remember, a minimalist workspace isn’t bare; it’s efficient. It’s about trimming the fat to ensure that you're not cooking up a storm in your mind.

2. Setting Clear Rules and Expectations

It's common for people to think they’ll remember every responsibility, but let's be honest: sometimes things slip through the cracks. That’s why creating clear rules and expectations for yourself is like building your own personal roadmap to success.

  • Write down your rules and place them where you can see them. This can be a whiteboard, a sticky note on your computer, or even a daily checklist.

  • Translate vague goals into actionable steps. Instead of "work more efficiently," you could set a specific rule like "check emails only twice a day."

These guidelines act as signposts that help prevent you from veering off course due to impulsive decisions.

3. Encouraging Open Communication

Picture your support network as your personal pit crew in a Formula 1 race. Each team member plays a crucial role in keeping the car (that’s you) zooming along the track. 

That’s why fostering an environment of open communication with friends, family, or co-workers is essential.

  • Share your goals and challenges. This isn't admitting defeat – it's enlisting allies.

  • Seek feedback. Sometimes others notice patterns you’re too close to see.

  • Practice active listening. It's as important to understand as it is to be understood.

By encouraging dialogue, you're not only gaining insights but also creating a shared understanding – and that's what teamwork is all about.

Mastering your environment is part and parcel of the journey to enhanced impulse control. With these strategies, you're equipping yourself with the tools needed to navigate the challenges that ADHD throws your way. 

Remember, every little tweak to your environment builds up to significant changes in your brain's training.

Working with Professionals

1. Seeking Therapy or Counselling

Discovering you've got ADHD can be likened to starting a new, intricate puzzle. Knowing where each piece fits is perplexing. 

That's where therapy or counselling steps in. It’s as if a therapist joins you at the puzzle table, guiding your hand, helping you fit the right pieces into place. Therapists are trained to help you understand your thought patterns and behaviours. 

Through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), they can teach you strategies to improve your impulse control, providing a toolbox of techniques customised for your unique mind.

Let’s bust a common myth while we’re at it: seeking therapy isn't a sign of weakness. It's a proactive step towards mastering your own life’s jigsaw.

With therapy, there's no one-size-fits-all. You may find group sessions more helpful than one-on-ones, or vice versa. And it's important that you vibe with your therapist because this relationship is super crucial to your journey.

2. Medication for ADHD Management

Medication is another significant puzzle piece for many. Picture it as a magnifying glass that helps you see the finer details on each puzzle piece, making it easier to manage them. But remember, medication doesn't "cure" ADHD; it helps manage the symptoms.

There's a variety of meds available and finding the right one can be a bit like tweaking your morning coffee – it needs to be just right. Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed and they're like a nitro-boost to your brain’s attention and focus.

Keep in mind that there might be side effects – nothing's perfect, right? And that's perfectly okay. If you experience anything that feels off, it’s important to talk to your GP about it.

Here’s a table with a basic rundown of common ADHD medications and their potential side effects:

 Medication for ADHD Management

3. Enlisting the Support of a Coach or Mentor

Imagine having someone in your corner who’s got the rulebook of the game you’re playing – that’s what a coach or mentor is like. They're not there to play the game for you, but to help you navigate the playing field better.

Coaching zeroes in on practical issues. These experts help organise your life, from decluttering your desk to mapping out goals. They're cheerleaders and accountability partners rolled into one.

Often, coaches or mentors have been where you are. They understand the quirks of an ADHD brain and have real-world, tried-and-tested advice. 

Whether it’s learning how to prioritise tasks or understanding the rhythmic flow of your workday, these pros can offer tailored guidance.

Incorporating a coach or mentor into your life might be ideal if you need help staying on track or building habits that last longer than the milk in your fridge. 

They're especially helpful for those who've got their medication and therapy dialed in but need an extra push in the day-to-day.

Remember, it's never just about suppressing impulses. It's about creating a life that accommodates your ADHD, letting you not just survive but thrive. 

Whether it’s through therapy, medication, or coaching, the essence is to find the mix that works for you – a blend of support that fits snugly into the corners of your life puzzle.


Mastering impulse control with ADHD is a journey that's both personal and achievable. You've got a toolbox brimming with options—therapy, medication, and coaching—that can pave the way for better decision-making. 

Remember, it's all about finding the right combination that works with your unique needs. With dedication and the right support, you're well on your path to training your brain and embracing the power of choice. 

The next step? Start applying these strategies and watch as you take control, one decision at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some methods to improve impulse control for individuals with ADHD?

Therapy or counselling can be effective in understanding and altering thought patterns and behaviours. Some may benefit from prescribed medication under GP supervision. Additionally, a coach or mentor can offer practical advice and assist in habit formation.

Can therapy or counselling help with ADHD?

Yes, therapy or counselling can be beneficial for people with ADHD. It provides a platform to learn and practice impulse control strategies tailored to an individual's needs.

Is medication necessary to manage ADHD symptoms?

Medication isn't always required, but it can be an essential component for many individuals. It's important to work with a GP to determine whether medication is suitable and to find the right type of medication.

What is the role of a coach or mentor in managing ADHD?

A coach or mentor can be instrumental in offering structured guidance, helping organize tasks, and supporting the development of effective habits and routines for those with ADHD.