Weekends can be a challenge when you have ADHD. This might sound counterintuitive, as surely the stressors of a busy work week are trickier than a leisurely weekend.
However, ADHDers can find unstructured time unsettling. Although you might resist the idea of structure, people with ADHD actually do very well with it. One of my clients joined the army and sent me an email to let me know how he was getting on. He wrote that army life involved doing all the things he hated: waking up very early, intense exercise and eating food he didn’t like.
Yet he explained he had never felt so happy. He was thriving on the structure.
You don’t have to join the army to have structure in your life! During the week, there is a natural routine and rhythm. You go to work, head to the gym or do after work activities, have supper, watch your favorite show and then it’s bed time.
When the weekend arrives, that structure and external accountability disappears. You might have been looking forward to the weekend all week. Yet now that it’s here, instead of feeling happy and relaxed, you find yourself feeling lethargic, depressed and unmotivated. You mope around for 2 days and then ping, Monday morning arrives and you feel alive and in go mode again.
Why does this happen? Well, the ADHD brains needs a certain level of stimulation. Without it you slip into that low energy, flat mood and bored state. Once you are there, it is hard to get out of as nothing seems interesting to you.
The opposite of this blah mood is to feel energized and mentally alert. When you have stimulating and interesting things happening, your executive functions in the brain snap into place, and your brain works super well.
Weekends are the perfect time to relax and recharge your batteries in order to be physically healthy. This means you don’t want to have an action packed weekend and feel exhausted on Monday.
How do you have a relaxing but stimulating weekend?
The answer is a semi-structured weekend!
Having some structure allows you to appreciate your downtime without slipping into the lethargy.
It is a combination of activities with other people, time to take care of necessary activities like housework and some downtime to relax.
For example, you might have a weekly brunch date with friends on Saturday morning and a Sunday morning run with your running club. Those activities are preplanned and give you a framework to hang other activities. After brunch you might find yourself running errands since you are out of the house already. After your run, you might be feeling energized so you can do a load of laundry, including the running clothes.
There is still time to do chillaxing activities, however, don’t leave those to chance. During the week keep track of things that capture your attention. If a movie looks interesting, write it down. If there is topic you want to research on the internet, write it down too. When you have some free downtime and wondering what to do you can look at your list. Don’t wait till you get into that low grade depressed state. Start your activities before that happens.
Be careful! On this activities list do not include things that feel like work, such
as decorating, taxes or, decluttering. Those items do need to be taken care of; however, they don’t count as fun things. If you include those items, you could find yourself going into procrastination mode and end up feeling bad about yourself.
Introverts might be tempted to skip socializing time. However, social contact is an important component of escaping the weekend blahs. If you are an introvert, it is still recommended to have some social time, just make it a short visit with a positive person that you genuinely love spending time with.
Wishing you a very happy semi-structured weekend! How are you going to spend yours?