ADHD and Fun

If I asked you, ‘What do you do for fun?’

How would you reply?

Would your mind go blank?

Or do you have a whole list on the tip of your tongue of things that are fun things for you?

If your mind went blank… you aren’t alone. Most adults have a similar response, unless they have consciously spent time considering this question.

We know that playing and having fun is an important part of childhood. It helps all aspects of child development. Then somewhere in our teens, life becomes more serious. There are exams, responsibilities and playing seems unproductive and a sort of childish way to spend time.

Yet, having fun and playing is mentally and physically beneficial for adults too. It relieves stress, thanks to the release of endorphins. It boosts the immune system and helps anxiety.

Charlie Hoehm, author of the book ‘Play It Away,’ found that when he dedicated four to five hours a week having fun and playing, his debilitating anxiety disappeared.

Having fun in adulthood can feel like slacking off the important business of being an adult. And this internal resistance is amplified among ADHDers, who feel they are behind with their daily to-dos and with life in general. Which means fun activities are postponed until they are all ‘caught up.’

As counter intuitive as it seems, taking time out to have fun actually helps you be more productive and so increases the speed that you can catch up. When you spend time enjoying yourself, you feel energized, motivated and inspired to focus on the ‘important’ things.

You can cross tasks off your to do list much faster when your batteries are recharged.

Having fun is such an important part of having a well-balanced life and managing your ADHD symptoms, there is a whole chapter (Chapter 11) dedicated to fun in the Untapped Brilliance book.

Do You Feel Guilty if You Are Having Fun?

As you are reading this, you might feel some resistance to the idea of including some fun activities into your life.

However, no one can be in productive go-mode all the time. Our brains and bodies need unstructured down time to rejuvenate.

Your body is pretty good at getting what it needs, so while you might not have been actively scheduling fun things in your calendar, your body has been sneaking quasi fun things into your life without your permission. Perhaps in the form of surfing the web or vegging out in front of the TV, or not being able to get up at the weekend.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in doing any of those things! However, there is a difference between making a conscious decision to stay in bed until mid-day and enjoying every minute, and being under the covers because you can’t make yourself get up and feeling guilty the whole time.

When you start to actively plan fun things, you will probably spend less time slipping into these default activities.

Working hard and playing hard has many benefits including feeling happier and energetic, being more focused and increasing confidence and self-esteem.

What is Fun For You?

In order to spend more time having fun, you need to figure out what is genuine fun for you. As an adult living with ADHD, your idea of fun might not be mainstream fun, and that is OK!

When I help clients figure out their fun things, they typically shrug and say, “Oh the usual, going out for dinner, watching a movie,” and I can tell they are saying those things because they are the expected answers. I probe a little deeper and they say shyly, “Well, it might not be everyone’s idea of fun but…” and then their faces light up as say what they REALLY love to do, from political debating to midnight hikes.

Never be shy about what you enjoy doing. Own it and be proud of it.

What Did You Find Fun When You Were 10 Years Old?

As you are figuring out what is fun for you, a good place to start is to think back to what you enjoyed when you were younger… perhaps 10 years old.

What did you enjoy doing then? Your tastes might be slightly more sophisticated, but the essence will still be similar.

For example, when I was 10 years old till I was 18 and left home, I spent Sunday evenings glued to the radio listening to the top 40 countdown. I would record my favourite songs on a tape and spend the next week listening to my homemade mix tape.

My music taste hasn’t changed much. I still like upbeat cheerful songs, but now I download my favourite songs from iTunes and make playlists on my phone.

Here are 5 suggestions to include more fun into your life:

1)  Think of 3 things you used to enjoy when you were 10 years old and think of ways to include those things into your current life.

2) Be open to trying new things. If you aren’t sure if you will like it, try it once and then decide.

3) Have a range of activities that can be done with people and alone, that vary in time, from a few minutes to a whole day. Have some that are passive (watching a movie), active (hiking), and creative (painting, crafts, decorating).

4) Remember, everyone has different ideas of what is fun for them. Don’t be swayed by what other people think is fun. It has to be fun for you.

5) If having fun is a scary concept, build ‘fun’ into your life gradually. However start this process today!

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Comments

  1. Helen says:

    It’s nice to see this is something I get right, currently I’m skiing inVermont (my passion) , but I also swim, bike, hike (the AT- section hiker), and kayak. I guess the child has never left me. After 35 years of a wonderful career ( but was super duper hard hard) and after raising 2 daughters ( now out on their own) I’m retired and being active is my lifeline. I used to call my activities- “anxiety dumping” and sometimes that is still the case, but now it’s just having fun. You are 100% right! If I did not have these outlets, I would be a sad depressed person. Truly activities make the difference.
    Going out to ski a few more runs…

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