Look on the bright side: You can attend this year’s ADHD conference from a treadmill, desk bike, mountain top, or any other location—stationary or moving—as desired.
by Carey Heller, PsyD
Do you—or does someone you know—have trouble sitting still, focusing, and tolerating being in front of a computer for an extended period of time? Does that concern you when you think about attending this year’s Virtual International Conference on ADHD? For people with ADHD, and even for those without it, having to stay focused and sit still for long periods of time in general, let alone virtually, with increased potential for distractions, can be difficult.
While we can think of many negatives about how the continued COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily life, making it more difficult and stressful for many people, one great coping tool is to focus on the positives of the situation. Consider this.
When you think about attending a virtual conference, these thoughts might come to mind initially:
- “Why would I want to sit in front of a computer more than I already have to in order to watch presentations, even though I’m sure they would be helpful?”
- “I don’t think I could focus well enough to benefit from attending a virtual conference.”
- “The thought of having to sit still all day, let alone in front of a computer, makes me cringe.”
Now, let’s reframe these negative thoughts:
- “I can watch conference presentations at my own pace. With recordings!”
- “I can engage in movement that I could never do in person during the presentations. And can do so without it being obvious or being self-conscious about it.”
- “I might actually be better able to focus on presentations by having more control over my environment. I can reduce auditory and visual distractions. I can wear whatever I want.”
One of the most positive things experienced by many individuals with ADHD during the pandemic is that they can fidget or otherwise engage in movement on video calls or while attending virtual conferences in ways that would usually be socially unacceptable in person.
Therefore, take advantage of the Annual International Conference on ADHD being virtual!
Here are some suggestions of ways to add movement to your virtual conference experience, which can help you if you struggle to sit still. Perhaps even more importantly, the movement you add can help you to focus better and get the most out of the conference.
- Add movement options under your desk or sitting area. Suggestions include a desk bike, elliptical, foot pedals, or stretchy bands.
- Use a standing desk to watch conference sessions while standing. For added movement, consider a balance board or similar device.
- Sit on a yoga ball (or get a desk chair that holds a yoga ball in place), wiggle seat (or wiggle cushion), or similar item.
- Use a treadmill, elliptical, or other piece of exercise equipment while attending sessions.
- Put the conference on a large television and walk around the room.
- Project the conference onto a wall outside of your house (using a projector) and jog around the backyard.
- If you tend to fidget more with your hands, consider a fidget cube, tangler, or other similar item. Variety packs of fidget tools can be easily found online to order.
The takeaway message is to focus on the positives of the situation. With the conference being virtual this year, figure out how you can best attend using methods such as those described above. Come as you are! Choose what works for you so that you can be more focused and get as much out of the conference as possible. Not only that, but once you learn what tools work best for you, they can be very useful during video calls or any other virtual meetings and events you attend during this unprecedented time—including concerts by some of your favorite musicians!
Carey A. Heller, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist based in Maryland. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and executive function issues. Learn more at hellerpsychologygroup.com. The coordinator for the Montgomery County chapter of CHADD, Dr. Heller also serves on the editorial advisory board for Attention magazine.