The world is a big place and chances are a virtual assistant will work with a client that has ADHD. Dopamine deficiency in the brain is the main factor in ADHD diagnoses, and many treatments focus on giving the brain small dopamine rewards through accomplishing goals or receiving certain stimuli. The field of mental health has made leaps and bounds within the last century, but how might a personal VA help clients who struggle with this diagnosis? Here are some tips that might help, but above all else, patience and compassion wins the day.
What is ADHD overwhelm? Simply put, a client with ADHD may become overwhelmed if there are too many tasks to do at once. Their brains are unsure what to do first, and quite often, delay doing anything at all. This condition can also be referred to as ADHD paralysis and might result in the client being unable to prioritize their work. Sometimes this overwhelm comes from stimulus in their own lives that causes them to shut down and be unable to work.
For a VA with an overwhelmed client, prioritizing work is key to help them through their overwhelm. Not only does this help you sort your own work, it helps the client get it sorted as well. Suggesting stimuli might help too, such as:
- Calming music
- A light snack
- Moving their bodies
- Stepping away for a few minutes
Task paralysis is very similar to ADHD overwhelm and is often referred to in conjunction with it. For a client suffering from task paralysis, something that might seem a “normal” undertaking becomes an insurmountable task, and these clients become “paralyzed” and unable to perform it.
When a VA’s client seems paralyzed by a task, breaking that task down into bite-sized pieces is recommended to help them through their paralysis. Many tasks have several “moving parts,” and breaking these parts down into more manageable chunks, with perhaps a break in between each one, helps the client face their task little by little rather than taking in the entire mountain all at once. Even something as simple as organizing their calendar or booking travel can paralyze an ADHD client, thus their VA should be sensitive to these needs and anticipate when certain tasks need to be broken down into smaller slices. If possible, the VA can help take over the task altogether.
Self care looks different person to person, but it is very important for a VA’s ADHD client. Depending on what works for the client, self care can be:
- Grabbing a snack
- Taking frequent breaks
- Exercise or moving their body
- Rewarding themselves after every task
- Basking in the sunshine
- Getting some fresh air
- Spending time with another
Clients with ADHD can become so hyper-focused on a task, they forget to take care of themselves. A professional VA should recognize when their client needs a self care break and suggest any of the above options. By being in tune with their client, a VA looks after their wellbeing as well as their workload, which brings not only respect and dignity to the table, but also a safe place for a client with ADHD to flourish.