According to a recent study, adults experience 131 days of boredom per year. While full-time responsibilities can trap them in routines, they also have more choices and freedom to keep themselves engaged in fulfilling activities and work. If adults experience boredom this frequently, what about teens with ADHD who are caught somewhere in between that struggle with under-stimulation, difficulty concentrating, and hyperactivity? This study suggests that it is not how much time a person spends feeling bored but how they react to the state of boredom. While teens with ADHD get bored more easily, staying engaged in a variety of creative and recreational activities help them find a sense of purpose.
Why do teens with ADHD get bored so easily?
Teens with ADHD are always looking for things that are new or stimulating because when they are interested in something, their problems with executive functioning become more manageable. Boredom is one of their biggest triggers for problems with planning, organization, impulse control, motivation, memory, and emotion regulation. Teens who are bored easily are more likely to turn to risky and addictive behaviors to satisfy their craving for excitement and stimulation. To maximize dopamine levels, they turn to food, sex, drugs, high-intensity sports, video games, among many other things, which can become problematic as they depend on these activities to stay focused and motivated.
Ways to Balance Hyperactivity and Boredom
One of the biggest struggles teens with ADHD have in traditional classroom settings is the emphasis on memorization and rote learning, which easily becomes monotonous. As they transition into high school where there is more emphasis on critical thinking and abstract concepts, they have difficulty organizing their thoughts and seeing the bigger pictures. Hands-on learning experiences help them apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life experiences. Functional math and reading skills are more engaging than worksheets.
Trails Carolina’s accredited academic program blends traditional and experiential instruction through classroom lessons and field experience. Daily lessons are focused on topics in personal wellness (nutrition, stress, sleep, etc.), earth science (weather, water, soil, etc.), and language arts. Literature selections correlate with broad themes at Trails Carolina (rites of passage and heroes’ quest/journey), and students are encouraged to make personal connections and critical reviews of diverse reading materials.
Spending Time Outside
Wilderness therapy takes teens out of the hectic, chaotic environment they live in and into a wilderness setting without any distractions. Although they appreciate the stimulation of our fast-paced society, they struggle with integrating information and multi-tasking. Spending time outside reduces stress levels and allows for deeper self-reflection. The natural rhythm and movement of nature has a calming effect and being in a more open, yet controlled, environment helps them more appropriately express their energy. Our structured, yet simplified daily routines help teens with ADHD develop healthier habits.
Rather than turning to high-risk activities, adventure activities help teens with ADHD feel the same rush without negative consequences. Exercise boosts dopamine levels, increases their motivation, and improves their balance, coordination, and other gross motor skills. Teens with ADHD are constantly being told to sit still; however, encouraging them to stay active and move around can help ease hyperactivity and impulsivity. Adventure activities, like backpacking, help teens build confidence, resilience, and adaptability through problem-solving, teamwork, and self-awareness.
Trails Carolina Can Help
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with depression, anxiety, ADHD, low self esteem, and defiance. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. By removing teens from their fast-paced environment into a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment, they are able to focus on improving and reflecting upon their behavior while participating in a variety of engaging activities. Trails Carolina gives students the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
Contact us at 800-975-7303 for more information about how we help teens with ADHD. We can help your family today!
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Graham Shannonhouse has been actively involved in the wilderness therapy field for nearly three decades. After receiving her degree in 1991, Shannonhouse spent 10 years working with a premiere wilderness-based therapeutic program in south-central Idaho. During her tenure, she served three years as a hands-on Field Instructor, three years as Field Supervisor, and the remaining time as Wilderness Program Director. During this period she developed, managed, and served as counselor for the country’s first wilderness program specifically focused on pre- teens ages 10 to 13
Graham returned to the east in 2002 to serve as Executive Director for a therapeutic wilderness program based in North Carolina, successfully growing it to one of the most respected companies in the industry. In 2008, she resigned her position to open Trails Carolina. Having an intimate working knowledge of the roots of wilderness therapy, Graham has brought her experience and wisdom to her position as Partner and Executive Director with the goal of integrating the true family work that must be done to insure lasting success.