When I graduated college, I decided I needed a little time off to rest and recharge. After so many years of hard work, a couple months of doing nothing seemed like an absolute dream. And at first, I loved my newfound freedom to sit in bed and watch The Office all day or take a long road trip on a whim or cook something elaborate and experimental just for kicks.
But after two months with no structure or real responsibilities, I am practically bored to tears. The novelty of an empty calendar wore off quickly and when my ADHD set in I had nothing to use my excessive energy and imagination on.
I can’t remember the last time in my life when I had more than a week or two with nothing to do. If I wasn’t in school, I was in camp or working or interning. And as much as I craved a break during those times, it turns out staying busy is a crucial part of maintaining my mental health. I desperately need things to do, think, and talk about.
Because, honestly, with nothing I need to get out of bed for, some days I just don’t. I’ve spent far too much time on my phone and on social media. I stay up too late and waste half the day sleeping. I get bored and lonely and sad. Instead of enjoying my time off, it’s started to feel like I just waste day after day after day.
So I’ve learned a big and very important lesson: those of us with ADHD and mental health issues need routine, structure, and things to occupy our wonderfully active and creative minds each day. I’ve found this to be true both for myself and my family and friends with ADHD. But since I still have few concrete responsibilities right now, it’s hard to implement and stick to a routine of my own accord even though I know I need to.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve found a magic fix. But a few things that have helped me so far! Yoga classes have been a great way to re-center myself. Instead of watching hours of TV, I’ve tried to re-direct my attention to reading and picking back up old hobbies like playing guitar. It’s also been important for me to make a conscious effort to meet up with friends regularly to get me out of my house. This phase of my life is definitely challenging, but each day I find it more and more important to learn how to entertain myself without a busy schedule.
What do you do during time off and how to do build routines? Let me know in the comments!