Enjoying the Summer Months With Adult ADHD
Why do you look forward to the summer months? Is it the longer daytime hours? The picnics and barbeques? Working on projects around the house? Spending time outdoors gardening, playing sports or just enjoying the sunshine? The weekend getaways? A long relaxing vacation? Summer is filled with all kinds of activities...and distractions.
During the cold winter months, many adults with ADHD might feel edgy and cooped up. At the same time, the wintertime offers routine and predictability which many adults with ADHD not only find comforting but calming. The summer is just the opposite. With the longer daytime hours, evening could be filled up at ballgames, gardening, chatting with neighbors, biking or getting together with friends. Weekends are more of the same. It is as if the outdoors are calling to you and you need to stay busy. But for adults with ADHD this frantic pace can leaving you feeling overwhelmed and your life ends up with tons of half-finished or just started projects and a feeling that you haven’t accomplished anything.
The following are five ways to help you enjoy the summer months with adult ADHD:
Spend time outdoor in green areas.
Studying showing the benefits of spending time outside in green areas have involved children with ADHD but both studies showed a reduction of ADHD symptoms when children regularly spent time outdoors in places with grass and trees. This reduction of symptoms was “overall” meaning it wasn’t only apparent when spending time outdoors but showed in other areas of the children’s lives as well. During the summer months (or year round if you live in an area where it is possible), spend 20 minutes a day enjoying the outdoors. Take a walk in a local park during lunch or unwind when you get home from work by spending time outside in your yard.
Add exercise to your daily routine.
If you don’t already exercise, summertime is a great time to start. If you do already exercise, this is a great time to move your exercise routine outdoors and combine exercise with spending time in green areas. According to Dr. John Ratey, the changes in your brain during and after exercise is similar to what happens when you take stimulant medications. It improves executive functioning, which helps in decision making and impulsivity. Exercise can lower overall feelings of anxiety and depression and improves sleep. While you might find it hard to fit exercise into your schedule, you might find the benefits of the exercise actually make you more productive during other times of the day.
Choose one project.
A hallmark of adults with ADHD is the many different projects they have going on at one time, all partially completed. Instead, choose one project you want to complete. It might be finishing your garden, working on a home improvement project or making needed repairs. While your list of possible projects is probably rather long, choose one single project and schedule time in one-hour blocks to finish your chosen project. You might choose to work on the project for one hour each day when you get home from work or for for an hour on the weekend mornings. By scheduling one hour blocks, you are more apt to not procrastinate because you know at the end of the hour you can move on to more enjoyable tasks. Don’t commit to doing any other projects until this one is done; once it is, choose one more.
Revise your expectations.
You might start out your summer with expectations of getting everything on your list done and constantly be beating yourself up for not being more productive. Lighten up on yourself and accept that you aren’t superhuman. Look at your expectations and determine if they are realistic. If not, revise them to better fit the circumstances. You might also want to set your expectations according to time rather than completion, for example, if you schedule completing projects in one hour blocks and you worked during the hour, even if you didn’t get as much done as you planned, then you still reached your goal.
Leave time for fun.
What good is summertime if you don’t leave time for enjoyable activities. If you make a list of projects you want to complete, make a second list of fun things you want to do. Goal yourself to participating in at least one fun activity each day or week. Take advantage of people being outside more often and get to know your neighbors or spend time with friends more often. Make time in your schedule to spend more time with your children, do things with your partner, socialize with friends and relatives. Relax, laugh and enjoy your summer.