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My Plans for Social Distancing With ADHD

Like people around the world, I have seen my everyday life change significantly in recent days and weeks – thanks, coronavirus.

Most recently, that has included my hometown issuing a shelter-in-place order, making it illegal to leave home except for a few “essential” reasons defined by the city.

As I’ve written about before, people with ADHD tend to be prone to boredom and to crave stimulation. In that regard, social distancing and self-isolation pose some obvious challenges!

Staying HomeI figured I’d share some of my plans for how I’m going to be approaching the next few weeks (at least). This isn’t a guide on how to survive lockdown (or near-lockdown) with ADHD, because I’m not (yet) qualified to write that – this is kind of a learn-as-you-go situation.

The first thing I’m thinking about is exercise. Hyperactivity is a part of ADHD, of course, and staying at home for weeks or months on end might not be your first idea for a fun time if you have hyperactive symptoms.

But I figure exercise can be an outlet for some of that fidgety energy. I have a minimal routine of exercises like pushups that I do at home anyway, but I’m looking at this as an opportunity to expand that.

I’m also planning to take up a new hobby. I’m trying to think of something that’s challenging but not too cognitively taxing – so far my idea is to teach myself to play some guitar, since I enjoy playing other musical instruments. I’m not sure I even have time to take up a new hobby at this point, but for the sake of maintaining some variety in life during this time, I figure it might be worth it to cut some time out from other things I enjoy. We’ll see.

Also on the theme of maintaining variety, I’ve temporarily given my rule of only reading one book at a time. Yes, this might mean I don’t finish some of the books I start, but I figure it’s worth it for now to avoid falling into a rut. So I’m currently reading three books.

What makes plans like these tricky is that I don’t have that much more free time than before. My work and family commitments are pretty much the same as they were. And of the extra time not having to leave the house create, much of it will probably be counteracted by additional logistical challenges this time brings.

Therefore, I fully expect that part of my approach to this time will be to make a bunch of plans I don’t follow through on.

But you know what? I think that’s OK. If I follow through on some of the plans, it’s worth it. And if I take up but then quickly drop new hobbies, that still brings some stimulation to an understimulating time. Basically, this is a time to be accepting of the things that sometimes frustrate us about ourselves, including our ADHD symptoms.

One last thing I’m taking seriously is to limit my time reading news about COVID-19. This frees up mental space for other tasks, and I feel it helps me keep perspective. It’s also one of the basic steps recommended by the World Health Organization that everyone can take to protect their mental health right now. Along these lines, what’s not an official WHO recommendation but what I’ve enjoyed doing is to keep up to date on the Onion’s coronavirus coverage as well.

I’d be interested to hear if you have any thoughts on how you plan to cope with ADHD during this time!

And I should add that this obviously is not an entirely ADHD-specific issue, so I’ve found it useful to hear what other people I know are doing in general, with or without ADHD. We may all be going into isolation, but at least we’re going into isolation together!

Image: Flickr/zoghal

My Plans for Social Distancing With ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). My Plans for Social Distancing With ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Mar 2020
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