Adult ADHD - 3 Ways to Fight Killer Boredom

February 9, 2010 Douglas Cootey

The results are in. Boredom could truly be cutting precious years off of your life. Over a 25 year period, 7,524 civil servants aged between 35 and 55 were interviewed from 1985-1988. Then the researchers checked in on the interviewees to see if any had died last year. Cheery, yes? Here's what they found: "Those who said they were bored were nearly 40 per cent more likely to have died by the end of [the] study than those who did not." Do you realize what this means? I'm going to live forever!

bored_to_deathI never stay bored. It's impossible. My ADHD mind can't handle it. If you have ADHD, I'm willing to bet neither can yours. The nanosecond our poor brains sense anything less than a party is going on, they immediately cast about for some good times. According to the study, "the people who complained about boredom were more likely to die young, and that those who experienced 'high levels' of tedium [were] more than two-and-a-half times as likely to die from heart disease or stroke than those satisfied with their lot." By my reasoning, although I'm never satisfied with my lot, I never sit still long enough to be dissatisfied either.

I wonder if that adds years to a man's life? It's true, I am more youthful than my peers. And here I thought I was just immature.

There are times, however, when my mind is at a loss. Well, OK, there are a lot of times when my mind is at a loss, but specifically, I'm referring to times when I am bored in a constricting social setting. Surprisingly, I have found that it is unacceptable to start a party during church meetings, business empowerment seminars, heart to hearts with the wife, funerals, etc. During those times, it is not alright to suddenly stand up and announce "I am so bored. I think I'll go out for a walk. Be back in a bit." I assure you, no one will appreciate your honesty.

Here are three socially acceptable things that I have found help me deal with boredom:

Boredom Emergency Kit™ - Over the years, I have assembled a bag of such incredible density that my family fears to carry it for me when I'm ticking. Inside the bag are sketching and writing journals, reading materials, a MacBook, art supplies, emergency food pouches filled with proteiny tunafish, a flashlight, a jack knife, and various interesting accoutrements. No matter where I am, if my bag is with me I am certain to never find myself bored.

IlluminatedMy iPhone - With a constant internet connection and almost 170 apps, I am hard pressed to find myself without something to do. I am thankful for the e-books and, especially, the camera apps. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary as I snap away at the world around me. Fill your PDA, cellphone, or smartphone with the types of apps that are guaranteed to hold your attention in a boredom emergency.

Interact with your environment - When pulling out an iPhone or hauling out a 50 lbs. bag filled with entertaining goodies isn't an option, you will need to stretch a bit to make this last solution work. We can stave off boredom by taking an interest in the environment we are in. Keep yourself busy by taking notes. Ask questions. Give input. Participate in the discussion. Keep your mind active when your body cannot be. Business meetings where somebody drones on and on about numbers or procedure are so boring to me that I can feel myself prematurely age. I usually sit in the back so I can write notes without distracting the speaker. My notes aren't always about what is being discussed, either. In those cases, I force myself to constantly rescan the meeting to make sure I'm current with the discussion before letting myself back into the comfort of my distraction.

Keeping boredom at bay often happens without effort for those with ADHD, but when being random is detrimental to your job or relationships, I have found it's nice to have a set of safe distractions prepared. Besides, I always knew excessive boredom was death to me. Now I have the facts to back that up.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, February 9). Adult ADHD - 3 Ways to Fight Killer Boredom, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

March, 29 2010 at 5:39 am

Hey, DWB. Driving While Bored. How's that for another ticket-worthy offense?

March, 29 2010 at 5:38 am

I have been trying to give up my driving-while-talking-on-my cell-phone habit because of all these studies citing safety issues. But I am so booooored! I swear that's what keeps me awake when driving - having something more interesting than staring at tarmac for my brain to stay awake for.
And now I'm finding stuff that says listening to audiobooks is bad for concentration too. Like this… scroll down to the bottom of page 12.
Anybody know if there's any research on ADHD brains and driving while bored?!

Douglas Cootey
February, 11 2010 at 2:20 am

@JIllian Haha! That’s excellent. I used to carry an exercise putty in my bag. It gave me something to do under the table that didn’t make noise or distract the people around me. Thanks for sharing that.

February, 10 2010 at 2:44 pm

I carry play-oh and slime in my "kit" i like to call my purse

Douglas Cootey
February, 9 2010 at 2:24 pm

@acoa Exactly. Before my iPhone my Boredom Emergency Kit™ weighed a few tons more. Now I’ve thinned it out and only turn to it when the batteries die on my iPhone.
@Christy As long as you’re prepared before hand, any sort of thing will do. A Boredom Emergency Kit™ helps you extend what you have in the house out into the road. Let me know how it works out for you.
@Jan Keeping your mind occupied with books on CD is a fantastic way to keep your mind honed and alert while driving. I use talk radio in the same way. Just enough stimulation to prevent my mind from zoning out, but not enough to be distracting. Thanks for commenting.

February, 9 2010 at 11:36 am

I'm happy to know I'm not alone. Lines and car rides are misery to me. I didn't realize this is part of being ADHD...learn something new every day!
What I have learned for myself (when driving alone) is that books on CD's are great for me. Just driving a short distance can be unbearable for me but the books work great!

February, 9 2010 at 10:46 am

I love your Boredom emergency kit. I may just have to start one myself.
What I have is a boredom list. It's a list of hobbies that I can turn to whenever I feel bored at home. Unfortunately, this doesn't work in the car.

acoa meeting
February, 9 2010 at 5:51 am

So true. I can't stand even waiting in short lines. But now, my smartphone makes waiting more bearable.

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