Hacking Adult ADHD, Part 3: Two Types of Stress

Some stress is good. Ironically, eustress — the term for positive stress — is often mixed in with distress. So we try to become “stress-free,” ridding our lives of all pain in hopes of blissful comfort. That never happens. Nor should it. Our bodies are built to thrive under eustress and diminish under distress. This post will focus on good stress. For more on bad stress and ADHD, WebMD has a great article, titled ADHD & Stress.

The ADHD mind often thrives under healthy and highly stressful situations


I don’t particularly enjoy criticism, although I’ve learned to appreciate constructive criticism. It is much easier for me to surround myself with people who will let me off the hook. The upside of this is that I can let my guard down and not worry about being asked tough questions that might stretch my thinking and actions. The obvious downside is that I don’t grow, expand my thinking and worldview. Worse than just remaining the same, living an unchallenged, uncontested life leads to spiritual, mental, physical and relational atrophy.

Challenge Question: Who challenges your thinking, worldview and actions?

These are the very people you MUST surround yourself with if you are to leverage your ADHD strengths. They can become the greatest source of good stress in your life, which, strangely, can quicken your healing. These are some traits that I look for in eustress people:

  • They surround themselves all the time with people who challenge them
  • They have exceptional family and work lives
  • They are humble, open, teachable, curious and insanely present-in-the-moment
  • They are motivated by a desire to help others grow, rather than to puff their egos
  • They are wired differently than me (Myers-Briggs I’m an INFP; Enneagram I am an Observer/Thinker)


“Sparring is a form of training common to many combat sports. Although the precise form varies, it is essentially relatively ‘free-form’ fighting, with enough rules, customs, or agreements to make injuries unlikely. By extension, argumentative debate is sometimes called “verbal sparring”.”


I’m a peacemaker by nature, so being challenged at this level is difficult for me to embrace. Yet, through years of surrounding myself with people who challenge, question, motivate and trek with me toward new heights of being is the greatest single factor that’s contributed to maximizing my ADHD strengths. It’s frightening to think where I might have ended up without this ever-so-helpful-pain-in-the-rear-eustress.

Challenge Question: What 1–2 people will best help you maximize your ADHD strengths?


Surround yourself with those people. Maximize your time with them. Maintenance friends, those who let you off the hook, often contribute to atrophy. Limit your time with these individuals. Write down the names of the 1–2 “eustress” people that you will call this week to meet up with for coffee, a Skype chat or phone call. Write on your calendar, or put a reminder in you phone, when you will call them. Write down a few hard questions that you would like them to ask you regularly — What do your currently see as my greatest area of growth? What do you perceive as hindering my growth? And so on. Before you leave your meeting with them schedule the next time the two of you will meet. This invites them to regularly be the eustress in your life, which will maximize your ADHD strengths and speed your healing!

Keep your head up and stay focused,