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What 'Relaxation' May Mean When You Have ADHD


“Just relax.”  I hate when someone says that to me. My brain does not “just relax.” It is impossible. Even when I am asleep, my mind races. My dreams are so out there… so much so that they don’t make any logical sense to me at times.

Most people who are neurotypical do not understand what it is like to live with a non-neurotypical brain. It is something they cannot possible understand, and I don’t fault them for that. But at least listen to me when I tell you it is not at all possible for me to relax. I do not feel calm if I just sit quietly and stare at a TV for hours. I do not enjoy sitting at the beach. I can’t do things “normal” people do to relax. My brain has too much going on for that. I like talking while hiking, coloring while listening to music, doing puzzles, creating something new, painting, building, exploring. I need some stimulation… that, for me, is euphoric. Being able to do something I enjoy, especially if someone I love enjoys it with me, is my type of relaxation.

My current work in progress coloring pencil illustration
My current work in progress

If I were to define “relaxation,” it would not be the same relaxed feeling others may feel — like a weight is lifted off their shoulder and they are comfortable and can release the tension felt throughout their day. I define relaxation as a time when I can not be overwhelmed by the world around me, where my thoughts are not racing, where I am able to enjoy something and don’t have to conform to the norms of society to fit in. Relaxation is feeling myself, doing something that makes me truly happy and comfortable. I don’t find comfort in a bed or comfy chair. I find comfort in activities or situations where my thoughts aren’t racing. I love letting my imagination go wild, allowing myself to create things without any worry about negative influence. That for me is the feeling I love.

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