5 Ways to Play Away ADHD Boredom
5 Ways to Play Away ADHD Boredom

Boredom is our nemesis.

Like kryptonite for ADHD brains, boredom is worse than intolerable — it’s downright painful. Low dopamine levels, however, mean that ADHD brains frequently find themselves in a state of boredom — a major problem when it comes to starting and persisting on life’s daily tasks and long-term goals. Boredom, simply put, fuels procrastination and thwarts motivation. It doesn’t help that, in our current digital age, it is far too easy to seek relief from mind-numbing boredom with equally mind-numbing entertainment.

Boredom has a better antidote: Play.

Further defined, play is intrinsically motivated, creative action that brings joy. From recreational games to artistic expression, play comes in many forms that all share one thing in common: They spark feelings of delight and happiness. The laughter, fun, and excitement of play boosts dopamine, releases feel-good hormones, and helps us – yes, even those with ADHD — positively reframe uncomfortable emotions like boredom.

Find your inner CHILD to put more play in your day and stave off boredom with these tips.

[Read: 9 Shortcuts to Happiness]

1. Curiosity is your guide

Be curious about people, places, and the world around you. Notice that person ahead of you in line and take a guess at what interests them. Cue in to the song playing in the restaurant bathroom and dance along. Wonder about the design of the conference room at your workplace and how it helps facilitate meetings (or not!). Through curiosity, you’ll open yourself up to all the playful moments that exist in every corner of life.

2. Hoard it for yourself

When you engage in play, do so for the pure joy of doing something fun for yourself. Hoard those moments so they remain magical and special to you – your fun little secrets. Avoid rushing to capture and share every one of these moments via social media. Doing so can turn what is supposed to be joyful into a plea for external validation. If you must share, journal it out.

3. Imitate children

Kids know how to play and be in the moment. Notice the fun the children in your life are having and join in! Sing along if your child is singing a song. Tell corny jokes. Giggle! Think about what you played as a child and brainstorm ways to do something similar today. Liked LEGOs? Get a new set or get creative with other ways of constructing. Loved to be outdoors? Find hiking trails, rock climbing spots, parks, or ponds that would feed your need for nature.

4. Laugh

If you’re not laughing, you’re not playing (or being playful)! A sense of humor can help you loosen up and see things – even that task you’re putting off because of boredom – from a different angle. Think of what makes you laugh and try to squeeze those moments into your day. If you enjoy being around people, spend time with friends chuckling about the week’s mishaps. For the more intellectually entertained, check out some wordplay puzzles or strategy games that make you snicker. Enjoy lighthearted fun? Then play with your spontaneity and improvise your way through a date night while giggling about your experience. Want to be whimsical? Try out something new and unusual and laugh about the memories you are creating.

[Read: How to Find Humor in Everyday with ADHD]

5. Develop games

In the words of Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap — the job’s a game!” So, heed her advice and turn your boring jobs and tasks into games. Can you finish washing the dishes before your favorite song ends? Can you write all of your daily work emails without using the word “but”? As you sit at the doctor’s office, can you alphabetically pick out objects around you until you reach the last letter? Games are everywhere—you just need to task yourself to find them.

How to Not Be Bored: Next Steps

Since 1998, ADDitude has worked to provide ADHD education and guidance through webinars, newsletters, community engagement, and its groundbreaking magazine. To support ADDitude’s mission, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.

Nathaly Pesantez

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