May 2007 - Volume IV - Issue V

ADHD - Difficulty relaxing on Vacation!

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time. We are still taking book orders for my new book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System" and you can get my author's discount from the

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In April Robert Eme Ph.D and myself went to Littleton, Colorado which is the city next to Columbine High School and spoke to City Staff members on our book "ADHD and The Criminal Justice System". Although Littleton is not the home of Columbine High School it is located a couple miles away from Littleton's city hall in an unincorporated suburban area of the greater Denver area. They have established the Greater Littleton Youth Initiative GLYI as a direct result of the shootings at Columbine. We both found their programs excellent and feel they will be the model city for how cities should approach their youth programs. More information can be found at this link


Many persons with ADHD have difficulty relaxing. This might surprise some of us and those who live with us due to some of us having a propensity to do a lot of lying around doing nothing. But lying around doing nothing is not the same thing as relaxing.

Often people with ADHD seem to waste time especially unexpected free time. We are often conflicted with what we should be doing and what we actually end up doing. We might have that room to clean but when we see the extent of the mess we seem frozen as to where to begin and end up lying down. While lying down most of us are not in a state of relaxation but rather a state of depression or self loathing about our seemingly inability to get anything done. This feeling can leave us very anxious which is the exact opposite of calm relaxation.

While laying there we may seem totally relaxed to others and even fall asleep. My belief is that this sleep stems from cognitive exhaustion more so than being relaxed. When we are just laying there are minds are abuzz with multiple thoughts of what we should be doing, haven't done or have ahead of us to do. We are often beating ourselves up over why we can't seem to get started, or why these same situations seem to repeat themselves over and over and over again. We think of people who are structured and orderly and ask why we can't seem to emulate them. Their actions seem so natural, and ordered without ever a wasted motion. Everything is in its place and for the most part stays that way all the time. If you were to just drop in on them there house or office would be neat and orderly. At least it would be neat and orderly in our mind although they might think their house is trashed. Based on their definition of trashed we would love to have our places look so trashed everyday.

Actual relaxation involves being able to clear the mind of clutter and focus on yourself in a calm way. An ADHD person can rarely achieve this state of relaxation. Even on vacations we often are highly stressed out especially in preparation of leaving. Our anxiety levels build as the designated time of departure approaches and most of the time comes and goes. Spouse often find this time very difficult. Maybe once we have left the house and are 15 minutes away from home a sense of calmness comes over us at least for awhile. If the children are with you this can quickly evaporate. Or else our minds return to the things we neglected to get done that we had sworn to do. Often time we immediately begin worrying about the end of the vacation which may be two weeks away knowing these neglected chores still await us.

Many of us on vacations actually get stressed out about what to do. We seem frustrated that we are not utilizing our time well. We either aren't doing enough fun activities or we are trying to do too much. At any rate our ability to totally relax on vacation seems impossible. Toward the end we often find ourselves more unexpectedly than most looking forward to getting back home. The everyday stresses we have at home seem almost more manageable than the stresses we have placed on ourselves during vacation.

I think the reasons for this are that we live with these regular stresses everyday. They are not easy but they are so common that we somehow manage to get through each day. The vacation stresses are often related to the guilt of the stresses from our regular everyday lives and we may even think WHAT AM I DOING ON VACATION? The vacation stresses are enhanced by doing things fun when you should be home cleaning out the garage, by spending money when you should be spending it on something more practical back home. Eating at restaurants you would not think of eating at near home because of their costs can even lead to more stress.

Again I wish I had a great answer for you. But I don't. Maybe by just knowing that we are not alone in these conflicts when we should be relaxed might allow us to better enjoy the time away and try to gain some peace and calmness. Good Luck

Talk to you next month

Patrick Hurley

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Author's Bio: 

17 years Lieutenant on Sheriffs Dept, 5 years Adult Probation Officer, 10 years ADHD Support Group Facilitator, 4 years ADHD Life Skills Coach