So we all know there are some common-sense steps you can take to mitigate the effects of ADHD: take medication, get an organization system in place, ask for help when you need it.
One “treatment” for ADHD that’s less likely to get mentioned in the same breath as “take your meds” but is especially useful for fighting boredom-related ADHD symptoms, though, is finding a hobby you love. Having a hobby you’re into is a great way to de-stress, express yourself, work in a less constrained setting where you don’t need to worry about whether you’re going to run up against your ADHD-related challenges and maybe even lure out that legendary ADHD beast, hyperfocus.
Pretty much any hobby you find rewarding can be a great component to your ADHD treatment plan. But if you’re looking for some ideas on where to get started, here are 6 hobbies that are especially good fits for ADHDers.
Art and Music
Making art and music is a great way to relax and be spontaneous in a setting where you don’t have to worry about your ADHD getting you into trouble — when you’re engaged in these pursuits, going in whatever direction your impulses lead you makes you “creative” rather than “distractible.” Maybe this fine line between being impulsive and being creative is one reason some studies have suggested a link between ADHD and creativity.
Art and music are also good hands-on activities for getting out that fidgety ADHD energy. And the idea that art and music are natural fits for ADHDers isn’t just conjecture: previous research has found that listening to music can ease the chronic understimulation associated with ADHD, that art therapy helps with some of the sensory integration issues ADHD children have and that music actually has effects similar to medication for some ADHDers.
Like making art and music, knitting is a perfect hobby for can’t-sit-still ADHDers. It’s also a portable boredom-killer: just take your knitting with you in your bag and pull it out when you find yourself sitting in a waiting room or riding the bus.
Finally, it’ll help keep you happy and on top of your mental game: a 2013 survey of an online community of knitters found that knitting more often was associated with feeling calm and happy and having better cognitive functioning. Maybe that’s why other researchers have pointed to knitting as a promising group therapy technique.
Gardening is a fun and active way to get outside for an extended period of time, and it’s rewarding to watch our hard work pay off as the garden you’ve planned out springs to life and becomes a reality.
Maybe more surprising is that gardening might also be able to help with your ADHD symptoms. Multiple studies have shown that spending time in green outdoor spaces is therapeutic for children with ADHD — see for example, this study from 2003, or this one from 2011. Although it’s not clear how the cause-and-effect work here exactly and whether adults can gain similar benefits from hanging out with nature, any excuse to go spend some time in the sun is probably worth taking.
Exercise is good for the brain and good for the body, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that it’s good for ADHD too. Research has shown that exercise raises levels of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that tends to be lower in ADHD patients, helping improve ADHD symptoms. At least one rat study has found that besides increasing BDNF exercise ramps up dopamine synthesis, reduces hyperactivity and improves spatial learning in both medicated and unmedicated ADHDers (well, ADHD rats anyway). Of course, it also relieves stress and keeps you in shape, and it makes you feel good — not a bad deal all in all.
ADHDers have occasionally been known to gain reputations as people who don’t know when to stop talking. Not necessarily the best skill to bring to a cocktail party, but the perfect trait for a blogger!
Blogging is a great way to express yourself and in the end is basically just an excuse to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want, for however long you want.
Keeping a Journal
If you want to express yourself but don’t feel like doing the whole blog thing, keeping a journal lets you pour out your thoughts without having to edit them for the consumption of others. Researchers have found that expressive writing has real benefits, too, and that people who engage in regular expressive writing tend to do become more emotionally and physically healthy in the long run.
Got any other good boredom-busting ADHD hobbies? Share them in the comments!