“Relaxing is stressful,” he said.
I said, “Come again?”
“Relaxing just sends me. It is anything but!” After a few minutes of coaching, he said, “The only time I can relax is when I’m moving.” Now, there is an Aha!
Most people associate relaxation with anything but moving, yet, often, I’ve found some with ADHD can truly relax only when in motion.
Moving as a means to relax is easy to solve, or is it? A number of times I’ve coached ADDers to advocate for themselves and design a relaxing environment for them to move and others to sit. More often than not, others (neuro-typicals) resist, insisting the definition of relaxation is to be still, and that’s when the fight starts!
Of course, the neuro-typical, non-ADHD person refuses to embrace moving as a means to relax. They insist that the neuro-atypical, ADD person must embrace stillness. Here is where I think neuro-typicals could benefit from a dose of their own medicine.
Dr. Russell Barkley once suggested thinking of the ADHD brain as a two-level system with the automatic brain and the executive function brain. He explains the executive function brain is effortful because it has to exert effort in order to override the automatic brain. That ability to override the automatic brain is the epicenter of self-regulation. It is the ability to pause (engage the executive function brain), ponder (override the automatic brain), and proceed (on a different course).
If non-ADDers could just pause and override their automatic brains’ insistence that stillness is the definition of relaxation and then ponder (accept that moving is relaxation for some with ADHD), they could proceed in the design of an environment for both definitions to coexist. It might take a little effort to design the environment, but how much effort is being exerted in fighting against the ADHD? Non-ADDers show some self-regulation work with ADHD, not against it.