Dealing with Constant Change, Increased Complexity & Uncertainty

Olga Skipper
10 min readFeb 3, 2023


and why it might feel like ADHD

Photo by Uday Mittal on Unsplash

One and half years ago, after the pandemic started and the world went through a drastic change, I went on a journey to research ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) in adults. The reason for that was the growing interest my clients expressed in understanding whether or not they might have ADHD and what it would mean for them. My thinking was — well, I have ADHD. That‘s why they come to me.

Today, it is February 2023, as I am writing this. Since I wrote the first piece, lots of research started to come out on how pandemics affected us and how the always-changing world around us influences us. And through this journey, what became apparent to me is that the ADHD question is not just a question of a diagnosis. It is a function of the time we live in and the conditions we experience — Change became constant.

The majority of clients I work with don‘t have ADHD, yet more often than not I found that my knowledge about the diagnosis that I personally have and its tools helped them to embrace constant change, lower their anxiety and worry, and become more resilient. With this article, I would like to share some of these tools with you and explain to you why the world we live in might feel like an ADHD world.

Before you read any further, here is my usual disclaimer. Please remember that only certified and licensed mental health professionals can diagnose and treat ADHD. If you are not sure whether you have ADHD or need professional help in treating the symptoms, please speak to mental professionals, GPs, etc., and get their professional opinion based on your history and your condition. On top of that, some of the symptoms that you will see below ADHD shares with other conditions such as depression, autism etc. Again. Please speak to a licensed mental health professional to consult you on those conditions.

Let us first look at the reasons why it might feel like you’ve got ADHD, what constant change does to us, and what we are experiencing at the moment.

Why does it feel like ADHD?

As I told you before, since the first article came out, clients that came to me with an ADHD question didn’t really have ADHD, what they have were the following symptoms that felt like ADHD, and you might also be noticing some if not all of the following:

  • you have a feeling that the world around you pushes you to perform, yet you are not even sure how to meet “normal day demands”
  • every task seems to be huge and unmanageable; it is hard to prioritize
  • you know what to do, yet you are not doing it
  • you zone out or procrastinate on tasks that you knew how to do before
  • you stopped meeting deadlines; your focus is scattered. It is hard for you to make even simple decisions
  • you might also be angry at people more than “usual”; you might cry more often
  • you have a short attention span and are easily distracted
  • you might start making careless mistakes, appear forgetful, or lose things. etc. etc.

After experiencing those symptoms for a while, typically, we start googling those symptoms or speak to our friends. And both Doctor Google and our friends might throw it casually at us — You might have ADHD. It becomes an easy way out. Now I have a diagnosis! or at least I know what is going on with me.

And here, let me be brutally honest with you — in more cases than not — this is not ADHD. This is the structure, quality, and events of your life and our shared life that create and trigger specific symptoms. Symptoms that we all sooner or later get by living “modern life.”

Change vs. Transition

Two terms are important to separate from each other: Change and Transition. Change is an event. Transition is a process. William Bridges has an incredible book and a model on Transitions that explains this in-depth, I will summarise it for the purpose of this piece.

Previously, before the internet, we would experience a change, say, the birth of a child, a move to a new city, or even a change of a boss within your small world, and we would embark on a transition journey. That journey would take time, yet inevitably we would land in a new reality. Then at some point, we would experience another change, and the process will go on and repeat itself from one change to another change. Our brain and the nervous system know how to deal with it and what it takes to transition.

With the current way of society, connectivity, and speed of the information exchange, changes that previously wouldn’t affect us simply because they were not geographically and socially close to us now play a role in our day-to-day life. In simple words, we became truly connected to each other and truly dependent on transitions each of us initiated.

And after each change comes a transition, so all those transitions end up layering one on top of the other. We haven’t yet ended one, yet we are thrown into another one. Everything is in flux: our identity, society, ways we used to ground ourselves, you name it. We feel like we have no ground underneath our feet.

When change happens and transition starts, even if it is a positive one, to some extent, we regress. Fear, uncertainty, and the inability to predict the outcomes bring us back to our old patterns and ways of doing things. So moving forward and personal growth truly become a matter of running, not walking. With more things being in transition and changing all the time, it becomes harder for our brains to self-regulate and control our thoughts, words, actions, and emotions. We do impulsive actions — we panic. Increased fear and uncertainty make prioritizing extremely hard, and we struggle to analyze.

As you see, “modern life” is not a safe environment for our prefrontal cortex and the executive function of our brain. And this is precisely how ADHD feels.

Way out is the way through

The good news is that our brain and nervous system are highly adaptable and prepared to deal with such complexity. The second good news is that due to the history of neuro-diversity, we have ways known to us to deal with such circumstances. Here are just some of them.

  1. Take care of your body and use its wisdom first

This is not a prominent place to start talking about change and complexity, yet this might be your most effective weapon while dealing with complex life situations. We search for answers inside our logical brains. I recommend you to look at all the tools available out there, not only the “brain work” like coaching, time management, etc., and we will speak about those down the line, but to look for support within your own body. Our body is a vast source of wisdom and strength, and we can definitely access some of its powers by getting to know ourselves better with the help of a nutritionist, somatic coaches, etc. Move more, go for a walk, or a yoga class, book a massage appointment; whatever reconnects you to your body would work. And I would really encourage you to start here.

As an example, what helped me to do my blood work and talk to a nutritionist about my tendencies. I know, for example, that in winter, I get vitamin D deficiency, and because of that previously, I would get seasonal depression. Now I just take vitamin D. I also take magnesium both Citrat and Magtein, they were chosen for me by my nutritionist because I tend to think a lot and deal with complex client cases, so my body needs support. This is what I do for myself. I work with a somatic therapist, go for a walk every single day, run, and do yoga. And all of this keeps me sane in this insane world.

2. Understand how sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work and make conscious use of them

When it comes to our bodies, the second most important tool you should be using is understanding how your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work. In one of my previous articles, I described how we could use the power of recognizing stress responses (sympathetic mode — fight or flight responses) and consciously switching into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). Find healthy ways of getting dopamine, make sure you are giving yourself rest and oxytocin by connecting to loved ones, and appreciate the moment of adrenalin and cortisol runs, but make them just moments, not a lifestyle.

A good source of wisdom on this particular topic would be this book. It can help you familiarize yourself with the power of your brain, emotions, and body when it comes to dealing with complexity and self-regulation.

3. Choose one thing you CAN and want to control

Moving into your logical brain. Here we go.

In the always-changing world, you need at least something you can control. For some of my clients, these are small things: clothes you intentionally wear to get yourself into a particular state, food you eat and nourish yourself with, and people you choose to interact with or not daily. Recognize that you control so many things around you, even if it doesn’t feel this way. Work with a coach to identify those parts of your life where you ARE in control.

4. Create your daily routine that helps that ground and allows for recovery, reflection, and planning.

Complexity also means an increased need for reflection and regrouping. You also will need more time than usual to plan and prioritize. Those are not possible without resting. To read more on this, check this article. You might feel like you are slowing down by taking all this time to recover, reflect and plan, but this is actually not true. By slowing down, you are actually ensuring that you are moving in the right direction.

5. Allow time and space to address your feelings, fears, and trauma

The first layer of resilience is Acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up or being passive. It just means we need all the data we can access, and we need to consider that data to make complex decisions. Hiring a therapist, joining a peer group, journaling, etc could be a great place to start. You want to look for tools and methods that increase your empathy and acceptance towards yourself. I am a big fan of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS).

6. Schedule 5–10min each day for dedicated worry time

Start a worry journal and dedicate specific time throughout your day to worry. Usually, we push worry away, but worry is also data, and if you push it away, it actually doesn’t go away. It gets louder.

Allow the worry to flow into your journal without judgment, listen to it, allow it to highlight some risks, and tell you where you need to direct your attention. Yet don’t allow it to consume all your day. Tell your worry, “look, we have that 10 min schedule, and we will meet then to discuss whatever you want to tell me”.

7. Recognise that your inner dialog is not ONE voice; these are MULTIPLE voices

We tend to think that I am singular, yet I am plural. It is proven through research, coaching, and therapeutical work, and we are made of multiple sub-personalities. Some are replicas of people we met before, some are old versions of us, and some are new versions yet growing in size to be seen. And this is your choice as the boss of this crowd to choose whom to listen to. A great exercise in recognizing the voices is to write them down. Choose a topic and write everything down about what you think about this topic. Then look at the list and group the phrases by voice. You will immediately see the differences in tones, perspectives, and agendas. And then — mediate them. Become their manager, choose who has the right to be heard and who is not. It helps to create distance and choose consciously vs. being subconsciously led by one of them.

8. Be very clear on the mission and outcomes yet flexible on the route It is going to take you to get there

Having a Northern star in front of us helps us to move forward. In resilience work, we call it “Purpose,” the second layer of resilience. Yet being set on “the way you’ll get there”, on a specific path that needs to work out is unrealistic—too many moving parts to consider, too many aspects out of your control. Be flexible about how you will get there, get curious and creative, and you won’t be disappointed.

9. Time-manage like a pro

There is no better investment into managing an ADHD brain than a time-management course, to be frank, where you learn prioritization techniques, breaking everything down into bitesize pieces, working with timers, you name it! Adapt those techniques to work for you. Don’t adapt yourself to a technique, though.

10. Develop a neutral mind through mindfulness practices and meditation.

It is essential to recognize that neither an extremely high/happy state nor an extremely negative outlook is “true.” To move forward, we must consider that all paths are possible and all routes are open. Negative and positive. And our role here is to become a neutral observer of this dance. Choose your mindfulness practice and /or meditation that helps you ground yourself and see things as they are.

As you can see, you can choose different paths to start with. From emotions to your body, from your body to your brain. An extra tip is to be open to others with your “growth pains” and move in hoards:) Growing new neuropathways takes lots of effort and time. Changing your mindset is a constant exercise that takes dedication. It is easier to stay on your path by using the power of communities.

If something in this article interests you, don’t hesitate to reach out. I am here to help.



Olga Skipper

Executive coach and Advisor for Tech Founders and Entrepreneurs. Asking uncomfortable questions.