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“I Had 9 Things to Do So Instead I Took a Nap” – A Story of ADHD Paralysis

| Kelly | , | 1 Comment

It’s NOT laziness! Delving into the mind maze that is ADHD Paralysis.

Sometimes, those of us with ADHD get stuck. We end up horizontal on the couch, wanting to do the next thing on our mental “to do” list, but somehow unable to make ourselves get up even though we really do want to do the thing that has us feeling frozen! This is an important distinction between ADHD paralysis and old fashioned laziness: if you’re lazy, you don’t want to do The Thing. In the “stuck” headspace, we might even feel shame that we can’t make ourselves do it. The antidote to shame is acceptance, and we hope that by understanding ADHD paralysis, you can start to love and accept yourself (and maybe even finally get the laundry done.).

A Short List of Things You Might Relate To

When I say “ADHD paralysis”, you might already have an exact picture of what it feels like in your head. If so, go ahead and skip to the next section. If you’re still left, you might be experiencing it if you…

  • Have a long list of things to do, but you can’t seem to pick which one to start with
  • Experience time blindedness (struggling to gauge how much time has passed)
  • Know exactly what you “should” be doing, but can’t seem to force yourself to do it
  • Overthink and overanalyze, even to the point of being unable to make decisions
  • Experience a lack of clarity or brain fog

Self-Care Tips for When You’re Stuck in the Paralysis Pit

Now you have a name for the phenomenon going on in your brain. Let me guess what you’re thinking.. “Great, random internet blogger, what the heck do I do about it?” Great segue, random internet reader.

The first step toward self-acceptance is self-compassion and self-care. When you recognize that you can’t make yourself do The Thing, or if you can’t even make it do anything, then stop trying to fight it. You’re not going to work on that project right now anyway, so you can spend an hour beating yourself up about it or you can spend an hour taking care of yourself – the hour will pass either way. And I’d bet that after an hour of meeting your needs, you’ll be in a better position to do The Thing.

Self care isn’t just chocolate cake and bubble baths. It’s not NOT that, but there’s more! A few self care options that have helped me and the people in my life are listed below. If you have any that you can share too, please leave a comment!

  1. Embrace the Pause: Remove yourself from the environment in which you need to do The Thing. If you’re working from home on a laptop, this might even look like getting up from your desk and moving to the couch. Or, maybe it’s a walk outside. You might go try out a new coffee shop in town. Whatever you decide to do, if you remove the looming pressure of obligation and give yourself permission to take a break, you’re on the right track.
  2. Take a Nap: Let’s all appreciate that I remembered to mention the nap from the article title. Especially if you’re feeling tired or mentally exhausted, a nap might be just what your brain needs to recover from the last dozen things you did.
  3. Physical Activity: It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, a walk around the block or 20 pushups can help to get your blood flowing.
  4. Embrace Your Inner Plant: Get some sun and make sure to hydrate! Humans need natural sunlight, and so many of us don’t get enough in a day. One of my absolute favorite activities is laying on a rock in the sun. I call it “lizarding”.

Tactics for When You Can’t Put Off Doing The Thing Any Longer

Body Doubling

Body doubling is the strategy of having a friend present with you while you do your work. The friend doesn’t need to help you do it, they just hang out so you have company! They might even nudge you back toward accountability if you get off task.

Timers Galore

Setting a timer is one of the tactics that shows up in our Cleaning Tips for ADHD article, but it doesn’t just apply to housework. You might be aiming to finish your homework or a blog for you business (lol). Set a timer to just work on it for 15 or 20 minutes, and see how far you can get in that time! This is when the hyperfocus super power of your ADHD might just save you. You might be able to knock out an hour’s worth of work in 20 minutes if you can engage that hyperfocus muscle.

Time Blocking

Time blocking can allow you to focus more effectively on each task. Instead of making a to-do list for your day, you schedule short bursts of effort on individual tasks. Each thing might only take 5 minutes, but time blocks allow you flexibility regarding when you do it and still get it done. For example, you might make your day look like this:

  • 9-9:30 I WILL accomplish Thing #1
  • 9:30-10:30 I’ll take a break and eat something because Thing #1 was exhausting
  • 10:30-11:30 I’ll do Thing #2

Never forget that the goal is acceptance, and this is an absolutely shame-free zone. Keep reading our other content to learn more about your brain!

A final note about us

We’re not doctors, and we absolutely believe in science. Our resources here are informative only, and should not be taken as medical advice. We’ll update our content as new research emerges, so if you see something that’s gotten out-of-date, please send us a message!


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