Why Rest Days are Vital When You Have ADHD

Why Rest Days are Vital When You Have ADHDWhen you have ADHD, it’s very important to schedule regular recharge days. These are days where you don’t have to do anything except relax.  No commitments; no schedule.  If you are thinking, ‘But I don’t have time for that!’, I guarantee you do. Because if you don’t consciously schedule these types of days, then your body will make sure you get the rest you need anyway. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Unable to move from the TV for 8 hours
  • Hours of mindless surfing on the internet when you sit down to work
  • Regularly getting sick with a cold or flu bug and having to rest for a few days
  • Unable to tear yourself away from a computer game, puzzle book or novel for hours

The problem with these is that there is a huge amount of guilt and shame attached to them. You planned to be productive and then your body sabotaged you and you ‘wasted’ a day. As someone with ADHD, you already have enough guilt and shame in your life; we don’t want to add more!

It’s impossible to push ourselves to the max every day. Our bodies and brains need to unwind. When you schedule recharge days, you are giving yourself permission to relax and have fun. Plus, knowing you have a day to yourself actually makes you more productive in your regular days.

What do you do on your recharge day? Anything that you want! You can watch 8 hours of TV if you want, but it feels so much better when there is no guilt attached. The only rules are no commitments, no “should”, and definitely no to-do lists. Wake up without an alarm and do what you feel like in the moment. See a movie, garden, crafts, read, do puzzles, surf the internet, cook, bake, sleep, take an exercise class, stay in your pj’s; whatever is relaxing and fun for you.

In order to have a recharge day, you might need to reschedule things a little. For example, do all your errands on the Saturday so your Sunday is free. If you live with other people, spouse, or children, then include them too. How many down days can you have? Lots! One per week would be ideal, but at the very least, once a month.

If a whole day seems like a lot at first, either it’s because you seem so busy, or you are prone to feeling blue when you have nothing planned, try half a day to begin with. Then, you can progress to a whole day.

If you are an extrovert and love being with people, remember you aren’t in solitary confinement! You can still be with people, but the idea is not to feel rushed and pressured to be ‘on’.

Some of the benefits of having regular recharge days include feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, ready to start the week, feeling less stressed, less need of sick days; being happier, less frantic and more fulfilled.

Ready to try it? Go look at your calendar now and pick a day.

Let me know when your next recharge day is in the comment section below.




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  1. JSwan says:

    I just discovered this blog & it is the best I’ve found. The practical and realistic tips are gems for an ADHDer like me who finds ways to work around the strategies I attempt to try. I am my own worst enemy w/ continual conflicts between the breaks & exercise I know I need to manage ADHD & my distrust of myself to get back to work to try to meet deadlines I am always behind on. You don’t minimize or excuse. I feel like tips like the 10 min/ room are doable. Thank you.

  2. I love the idea of “Relax Day.” I’ve been pushing myself to the end, and I know how tough it is. On the free days, I try to make it productive too. But that’s a different kind of guilt when I just spend the time to be a good mom or a good wife and completely forget about myself. You said “Our bodies and brains need to unwind. “.. yes… exactly. That makes me think that there are things that feel me less stressed for work. Other than scrolling my social pages or tv shows I love to paint. And people have different passions like these. And I’m sure there will be no guilt with this kind of pleasure.
    Thanks, JACQUELINE, I’ve started reading you, and I already feel someone is telling the things I need to hear loudly and more often. Hope to be connected and really improve myself.

    • Hi Barb! Painting sounds like an amazing way to spend your relax day. Take a photo of your next painting and post it here. We would love to see it!

  3. CC says:

    Hi Jacqueline,
    I enjoyed this encouragement. My daughter came home last Friday from school with a cold and I nursed her back and now I’m of course sick, but Mom’s don’t really have “sick” days. I found myself scrap booking with my 4 year old while she was coloring and we went at this for a few hours this morning. Even though I didn’t get to sleep; it was more relaxing than running around the house. I have a question for you: do you think ADHD folks are happier renters than owners? My mind is constantly thinking of all the things that need ‘attention’ in the home everything from small paint projects to window replacements. We’ve lived in our home for 10 years and my husband is not into house projects/diy. So, with a limited budget most house projects have to involve part diy to save money. I’d love your thoughts on this as I’m almost ready to throw my hands up and be a renter again. Much. Less. Stress.

    • Hi Chrystal
      That is a very interesting question about renting v’s owning. And the answer is it depends! some ADHDers love DIY projects and physical work where they get time to think while their bodies are moving. Others find it a total chore. Some ADHDers with social anxiety find interactions with landlord hard and look forward to getting their own place. So really it comes down to personal choice based on your personal strengths.
      Hope that helps!

  4. Emily Hodgkinson says:

    Only just discovered you Jacqui, thank you so much for being there!!! Yes ‘walking meditation’ was always excellent and necessary for my mental health (until I had a kid). You don’t have to consciously control your mind but the rhythm seems to calm it down. I also find that I can ‘meditate’ first thing in the morning and even 2 minutes makes a difference. Better to try when you’re at your best than (for me) in the evening when there’s no way I can keep my mind calm. But with a very intense toddler (like me) and a chronically ill partner I get one rest day a year at the moment 🙁 and have only just started asking for meditation time. So reading about one day a week makes me feel a bit rubbish – that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. It’s early days – I’ve only just found out I have ADHD (psychotherapist aged 45!) and got a long way to go in validating myself and finding a way to get others around me to take my needs more seriously…..

    • Hi Emily! so happy you found us 🙂 That is great that you noticed even 2 minutes of meditation makes a difference! When you have a busy life 2 minutes feels do able…and you can build on that. I think other readers will feel inspired to try it when they read that.

      Totally get why having a whole day a week for resting would be challenging with an active little one. What you could do is relax your ‘shoulds’ one day a week. Often we are our own worst enemy in making our lives harder for ourselves. For example rather than catch up on housework when he is taking a nap, sit down and read/watch a show, even if its the middle of the day. Rather than having a home cooked meal give yourself permission to order in. That sort of thing. I bet there are little pockets of time you could claim for yourself.

  5. Laura says:

    A great (and timely!) reminder. You’re so right about how having a full day off really does boost your productivity. I was going to try to (sort of!) work today (Saturday), but I wasn’t feeling it and, really, I just know it was going to be one of those moochy day. So, now I’m going to make today into a rest day. that feels much better. Thanks Jacqui! 🙂

    • Hey Laura!! A moochy day is such a good term. Yes I totally agree with you…your body was letting you know you needed a rest day 🙂

  6. Jim says:

    Great reminder! Reminder. I recently saw an article that productivity goes up working in bursts that had a subtitle like “because we aren’t robots.”

    I think when I start running low on juice I get too tired to recognize it or make good choices that leads to things like TV or video games. I think I can keep working “any minute now.”

    I was tutoring a kid and could see him run out of gas before my very eyes toward the end of a long book.

    It helped me understand what happens. So then one time even though I really really really wanted to keep working, but was surfing the internet – I realized if I just take a REAL break I’ll be much better.

    For me it’s a relasxing bubble bath with no screens! Maybe a book. All better!

    Good stuff. Go Jacqui!!

    • oh brilliant that you recognized that surfing = time for a rest Jim. Also love what you said about humans not being robots and rest means increased productivity not less.

  7. Thanks for the re-frame on rest days. I know many ADDers “fear” rest yet have a great need for down time. So important to recognize that rest often means a change of pace in our expectations of ourselves rather than just easing back on what we are doing.

  8. Ed says:

    Hi Jaqui
    Thanks for this week’s commentary on the importance of a rest day. Mine was today. The reality of having to make a living is not lost on us. The insecurity that inhabits ADD territory makes us sensitive to that but not feeling in control. It is obvious enough that inability to get enough sleep is badly counterproductive but how do you clear the mind? I personally have no luck with meditation. Long walks through the beautiful town we live in are a big help…I have logged thousands of miles over the last several years. At some point I achieved a glimmer of understanding that I am responsible for me. No one will pull me aside and say “hey you need a rest!” As you pointed out it’s going to happen anyway because you shut down in spite of yourself. I observe it is 10 times more effective to go with the flow and admit that today was a fantastic day. To quote Jean-Luc Picard: “Make it so!”
    Best regards,

    • Hi Ed
      Thanks for your comment! I am glad you know about the importance of taking rest days for yourself. Have you heard of walking meditation? its a great way to mediate if sitting mediation is difficult. It might be that you are already doing it on your walks.

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