ADHD and boredom appear together too often to be ignored. If you are a parent of an ADHD child, you most likely have heard your child say recently, “I’m bored!” Especially in the summer months with long days and no school, boredom becomes an almost daily preoccupation.
The study of boredom actually is a quite interesting field. Due to recent studies, researchers now believe that boredom arise out of how some brains are wired. Depending on how your brain works, you may in fact be more inclined towards boredom than others. Interestingly enough, researchers have also found that patients with traumatic brain injuries report greater instances of boredom after their recovery.
As it turns out, boredom also says a lot about how we might perform on tasks, at school, or in a job. If we find ourselves bored often, we are more likely not to engage well with things we work on. This means that we never give all of our capacities over to job performance and anything we attempt suffers. Ultimately, this can lead to lower grades or low job review ratings.
While boredom every now and then is a part of life, chronic boredom needs to be dealt with quickly. In this article, we first want to look at the link between ADHD and boredom. Then, we want to break down what boredom looks like both at school and at work. Ultimately, we believe knowing the signs of boredom can help equip you better to address it well.
The Link between ADHD and Boredom
We all get bored at different times, so boredom is a feeling we all can relate to. Interesting enough, though, there still seems to be a stronger connection between ADHD and boredom for some reason. Many parents, in particular, might attest to this connection. They may provide plenty of options for their ADHD children, only to have the child go through each activity rapidly and still end up bored. To begin, we need to understand this connection between ADHD and boredom better. Let's now look at the individual traits of ADHD that strengthen a connection to boredom.
Probably the easiest observational connection between ADHD and boredom lies in impulsive behavior. Individuals with ADHD tend to act and respond impulsively. This often looks to an observer like quickly switching activities or moving from one thing to another without notice. Impulsivity hinges on responding without thinking. Many ADHD individuals do this on a regular basis.
The impact of impulsive action makes it difficult to get into one activity or really get into enjoying what you are doing. The constant shifting from one thing to another could cause or be a result of already present boredom. Part of our understanding of boredom tells us that boredom occurs as a result of not finding satisfaction in activities or events. The drive of impulsivity in ADHD also makes finding satisfaction difficult as the brain can’t focus on one thing long enough to reach the reward.
Some studies related to boredom have found that boredom revolves around dopamine levels in the brain. We tend to get bored when we don’t feel the reward of a dopamine release from brain activities. Interestingly enough, dopamine releases in our brain also seem to positively impact areas of our brain related to self-control.
Low self-control, on the other hand, something exhibited by many with ADHD, could then possibly be linked with lower dopamine levels and increased boredom. The low self-control from ADHD might appear as a common symptom along with boredom.
Children with ADHD struggle with the executive functioning for self-control and that might also show that their dopamine levels are lower than normal which also indicates a higher propensity towards boredom.
While we have focused on the negatives of boredom, there still might be something positive to contribute to the conversation on boredom. The positive aspect of boredom comes to us as a result of creativity. The argument has been made that a lack of boredom prevents us from being creative and innovative and possibly achieving our true potential.
For most individuals in today’s world, we have too many things filling our schedules. In fact, some of us wish we had more boredom in our lives. The ADHD brain, though, works very differently from most people's brain. The individual with ADHD has a brain that works lightning fast, quickly moving from one project and topic to another.
In some ways, this lends the person with ADHD towards always wanting to push the envelope and develop something new. This can be called the creative drive, and while it can be a great thing if channeled correctly, it can also lead to constant boredom if not used well. To fight against constant creativity turning to boredom, parents should find ways to encourage creativity in their ADHD children.
ADHD and Boredom at School
We can possibly most easily see the connection between ADHD and boredom at school and in the classroom. Unfortunately, when kids become bored in the classroom they tend to become disruptive to other kids or even to have violent outbursts. In order to address ADHD and boredom at school, you need to know the causes and ways to address them. Let’s look at both.
Causes of boredom
Kids with ADHD tend to become bored at school for a few different reasons. Sometimes they become bored because they can’t focus on what is going on. They can’t follow what the teacher is telling them so their minds start to wander instead.
Also, some kids with ADHD become bored because they know the material already. Interestingly enough, some ADHD students excel at studies. They can even have both learning disabilities and be academically gifted, which often is referred to as 2e or twice exceptional.
Some children with ADHD can excel at certain subjects, especially math and science. Their ADHD sometimes helps them hyperfocus to learn subjects they enjoy faster than their peers. When they already know the things the teacher is covering, some ADHD students can become bored and easily distracted.
Finally, ADHD children simply have a harder time than most kids with sitting still. Their brains and bodies want to move and be active almost constantly. Unfortunately, rarely does a school classroom accommodate being active. As a result, kids with ADHD become bored with just listening becomes their bodies and minds want them to get moving.
Ways to address it
If not addressed early, boredom at school can get an ADHD child into trouble quickly. The first place to begin when addressing any issue at school is with communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD. If you never have spoken with your child’s teacher about ADHD, then the teacher has no idea how to help address the symptoms in the classroom.
With talking with your child’s teacher, you can find ways to plan out how to handle instances of boredom. Some solutions might be the use of fidget toys or allowing your child to chew gum. Also, you might talk to the teacher about allowing your child to bring in a book of their own to read if they are ahead of others in the class.
Additionally, you can work with the school to develop an IEP or 504 plan. If you continually have issues with your child and the classroom, you should really consider looking into accommodation options at your school.
If not addressed properly, boredom in school can not only lead to disruptions but it can also lead to your child falling behind in his studies. You should work with the teacher and administration at the school to help identify behavior stemming from boredom. Work as a team to come up with acceptable solutions to divert the boredom towards positive activities.
ADHD and Boredom at Work
Not only can ADHD and boredom cause issues at school, they can also present problems for adults at work. The monotonous day-to-day dredge of most work places leaves little room for excitement or creativity. As a result, it’s not a far stretch to see how anyone might quickly become bored.
Still, again, while many of us might occasionally feel bored from time to time, it most likely doesn’t approach the level of boredom felt by people with ADHD. This means boredom for the ADHD, if not addressed properly, can cause far greater harm over the long term. Again, as with looking at the school classroom, to address ADHD and boredom at work, you want to both understand its causes and then how to address it well.
Causes of boredom
In most ways, ADHD adults become bored at work for the same reasons kids become bored at school. Many jobs, especially 9 to 5 corporate office jobs, require long periods of sitting and looking at computer screens or documents. For many people with ADHD, sitting for several hours at a time can feel unbearable.
Not only does boredom creep up in the office cubicle, but regular job activities can lead to boredom as well. Long group meetings that drag on longer than they should can create boredom. For individuals with ADHD, this can be particularly true if what is being covered in the meeting is abstract and hard to follow.
Another principal cause of boredom at work involves the feeling of being overwhelmed and unorganized. For individuals with ADHD, they struggle to juggle multiple tasks or items at the same. As a result, trying to sort through multiple responsibilities quickly becomes overwhelming.
Then, once they become overwhelmed, some people with ADHD find it simply easier to disengage from their tasks. Feelings of being overwhelmed make people want to separate from the stressors and give up. In the place of dealing with actual tasks at hand, the mind tends to wander resulting in feelings of boredom.
Ways to address it
Addressing ADHD and boredom at work might present more complications than correcting boredom at school. For starters, you don’t have a parent to advocate on your behalf. In many office environments, your supervisor expects you to complete your work independently and with little outside involvement. If you tend to get bored at work and no one’s keeping track of your time, things can quickly unravel.
This just again highlights the importance of addressing boredom at work as soon as possible. For starters, to address boredom at work, you should try to find ways to engage your creativity. This might mean looking for new systems or processes to learn within your job area or outside your job area with your supervisor’s permission.
Many managers love to see employees take initiative. Nothing breaks you out of boredom faster than volunteering for a new project or task that you haven’t tackled before. Bringing creativity into the work place can help save you from boredom.
There are many more ways to do this from getting to know co-workers better or planning office events or finding creative ways to spruce up your office space. For more ideas on bringing creativity into your workplace refer to this article.
If bringing creativity into your workplace doesn’t go anywhere, you should possibly consider finding ways of getting yourself into a more creative profession. If you find yourself bored at work, the problem might in fact be the job isn’t right for you. Individuals with ADHD typically need something more engaging than a regular desk job.
Consider if a career move might be right to remove the boredom. For ideas on careers to look into, check out our article on ADHD friendly jobs.
Finding Creative Ways to Address ADHD and Boredom
To fight back against ADHD and boredom, you have to get creative. For some of us, creativity doesn’t come naturally. If this is you, though, you don’t have to worry because plenty of people can be creative for you.
Boredom doesn’t have to overwhelm you, at work, at school, or at home. Build a team of supporters, whether that includes teachers, friends, or co-workers, and work to brainstorm ways to bring creativity into your environment and processes. For ideas on fighting boredom with creativity try some of the ideas in this post or in this article.
Finding ways to defeat boredom might seem difficult at first. With time and energy and support, though, you can build in helpful processes to keep the boredom away. Use the tools and tips in this post to help better equip yourself for addressing ADHD and boredom today.