Hate Waiting? 10 Survival Tips for the Bored and Impatient

Terry Matlen, ACSW Health Guide
  • Do these things make you crazy impatient?

    • Waiting in line
    • Getting stuck in traffic
    • Long car rides
    • Sitting through movies
    • Waiting for people to get to the point?

    One reason why people with ADHD tend to be impatient is because of their hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness and nearly phobic fear of boredom. Even for the ADHD adult who doesn't have the hyperactivity/impulsivity component but instead is more inattentive, patience is often not a virtue typically seen.


    If our bodies aren't hyperactive, our minds certainly are. And being stuck with nothing to do can be incredibly painful. Our minds are racing with thoughts and ideas, and we have little patience for people who might be on a slower energy track; whether it's mentally or physically.

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    Years ago when my children were very young, they had this habit of watching videos over and over...and over and over again. Though many adults, even, enjoy watching a movie or re- reading a book, this is torture for me. Like many other adults with ADHD, I like to get to the point and then jump into something new, something novel. I found it indescribably difficult to sit with my kids as they watched Sesame Street Live for the 3rd time in one day. Of course, back then I had no idea I had ADHD. Instead, I thought I was simply a rotten mother. Just as painful was (and continues to be) the activity of playing board games or cards. The games seemed to last for 20 hours and I'd be jumping out of my skin after five.


    How to Mange Impatience and Boredom

    1. Acknowledge that it's part of having ADHD.
    2. Always come prepared! Bring activities to keep you busy when you know you'll be waiting for an appointment, traveling, etc.
    3. See it coming and have a plan. If you're prone to car rage, practice the habit of deep breathing during stressful episodes. Switch the radio to a classical station. Keep a squishy fidget ball handy when stuck in non-moving traffic.
    4. If you must partake in a boring activity, like a children's game, set a time limit for yourself. Play, then find another activity that you can engage in while still staying near your child; something akin to parallel play: knitting, playing a handheld video game, working on a crossword puzzle, etc. You may not be able to play with your child for long periods of time, but you'll still be close by and can chat with him about what he's doing.  
    5. Have fidgets on you (or if the case may be- your child) at all times. Squeeze balls are a great item to have. Spin rings help adults get through boring business meetings.  You can find a large assortment of fidgets at www.myADDstore.com .
    6. Chewing gum can help tremendously. If your child has a hard time sitting through a movie, or attending in class, offer gum. If the teacher protests, have a discussion about sensory needs and how chewing helps many to pay attention and self-calm.
    7. Personally, I have a very tough time sitting in a car for long. One hour is about my limit. Take turns driving. If you're the passenger and you're prone to carsickness, purchase or rent books on tape. Otherwise, bring reading material and a DVD player. Since I'm unable to read or watch movies in cars, I bring a notebook and write down ideas for articles or projects. I also bring a compact camera and look at the scenery as a professional photographer might. This gets me out of my own state of boredom and forces me to see "the ordinary" with fresh eyes.
    8. While waiting for appointments, flights, etc., I always bring a mini laptop. These are so tiny, they can fit in a large purse or a backpack. Besides writing, you can play games or go online if you're lucky enough to hook into an internet connection.
    9. Do conversations bore you because the speaker spends an endless amount of time going into detail and not getting to the point? Make a mental game out of it. Try seeing how much you can remember of the story being told. Visual cues are usually helpful, so pay close attention to the person's mouth. You'll have a better chance of staying connected. Ask questions, which will help you stay connected and focused.
    10. If you're a student or in a business meeting, there's nothing wrong with doodling on your notebook paper or agenda.

    These are just a handful of tips to help you get through such situations. What works for you?

Published On: February 19, 2009