Restless ADHD: 4 Tips to Fight It!

July 8, 2010 Douglas Cootey

One hallmark symptom of ADHD is restless fidgeting. Here are some things I do to release ADHD's restless energy constructively. Take a look.

One hallmark symptom of ADHD is restless fidgeting. Ever feel as if each limb is crackling with busy energy, almost as if you might explode unless you MOVE THAT VERY SECOND? Here are five four things I do to release that energy constructively.

There I was, dutifully writing Tuesday's article at the local Denny's. Eating a hearty breakfast—tuning out the various giggling couples behind me—trying to express the difficult concept of low self-esteem in at least a mildly funny way. And what did I get for my reward? A case of the runs so bad I called them the sprints.

Now, I can't blame Denny's. I don't know for sure something I ate there gave me difficulty. It could have been a bug. All I do know is that I couldn't eat solids for a day and needed to stay an arm's-length away from the bathroom. I told a daughter that I felt like a fire spewing dragon, but backwards. She wasn't impressed.

Restless ADHD Feelings Can Induce Anxiety

Sitting stationary on the couch filled me with a great sense of anxiety. I needed to move. I needed to do things. Other than sprint, you know…oh, never mind. Is this too much information? I've heard that adults with ADHD have this foot-in-mouth issue, but that's a subject for another day.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning, I was so itchy to get busy working on ANYTHING that I thought this would be a great topic to write about. We don't normally see bouncing-off-the-walls hyperactivity in adults. What we usually see instead is a "nervous" energy, a twitchy, shifting, uncomfortable-sitting-still, sort of kinetic event that has other adults wondering if we have ants in our pants. To me, this restlessness feels like I've been trapped in a box and my mind is screaming for freedom. It feels more desperate to me than nervous. Yet, if asked why I'm so uptight, I can only offer that I just feel uncomfortable sitting still for too long.

Four Tips To Reduce Restless ADHD

Here are some things I do when I'm restless. They help take that edge off the need for movement.

  1. Stand on the table in the middle of yet another boring meeting and scream "AAAAAAAAAAAH'M GOING CRAZY!!" then rip my shirt off and run outside. Alright, I've never actually done that, but I have often wished that I could. Right. We're looking for constructive ideas. Moving on.
  2. I go out for a walk/ride/drive. If indoors at a seminar, I will get up and walk the hallways for a bit then return to the meeting.
  3. If possible, I exercise. I find this helps greatly with sleep as well. In the great paradox of my life, exercise before bed can often calm me down and allow me to let go.
  4. I fidget discreetly. No drumming fingers or tapping pencils. That would earn the ire of everyone around me. Instead, I work on one of those stress relief bags, or tap my foot quietly (on carpet). I even have a very weak and oiled wrist grip that I slowly work under the table if I'm desperate. It's quiet so it doesn't bother anybody. I keep these items in my Boredom Survival Kit™.
  5. Sometimes, we can't wiggle our way out of restlessness. That's when I escape inwardly instead of outwardly. I allow my mind to spin a bit, focusing on nothing of importance. I doodle, I read news, I allow myself to be distracted, but keep an eye on the clock so it doesn't get out of hand.

There's my list. I wonder how it compares to yours? Leave a comment below and let me know what you do to deal with your ADHD restlessness.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, July 8). Restless ADHD: 4 Tips to Fight It!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

Douglas Cootey
July, 9 2010 at 10:31 am

So you hyperfocus on music until you're in the zone and then continue with work? That's a great solution.

July, 8 2010 at 9:58 pm

I get irritated when my team leader constantly keeps me underestimating about my work, at that time i listen to songs and then continue with my work.

Douglas Cootey
July, 8 2010 at 7:27 am

Haha! Do it, please, and put it on Youtube. You'll be a hero to ADHD people everywhere.
I love the tenting fingers idea. Think I'll try that sometime. The breathing exercise is a great tip, too. Thanks for commenting.

July, 8 2010 at 4:10 am

"Stand on the table in the middle of yet another boring meeting and scream “AAAAAAAAAAAH’M GOING CRAZY!!” then rip my shirt off and run outside."
That made me snort my lunch drink out of my nose - thanks... I'd love to do that during a management meeting. Awesome.
Me - I do breathing exercises if I get this nervous energy - in through the nose, hold for a couple of seconds or so, and out through the mouth. That seems to calm me a bit. Also, someone told me to tent my fingers, and that this makes me look intelliguhnt, and also helps me look (and somehow feel) focused.
Cheers - great writing!

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