I’m in a meeting at work (actually, a presentation) and I’m noting, as usual, how still most people (okay, pretty much everyone in the room) are compared to me. The word “still” rarely applies to me, but it’s most noticeable in situations like this. I shift position, jiggle my knee, twirl a lock of hair, pick at my nails.
I look around the room. Most of the attendees are sitting with their hands folded, either in their lap or on the table. Okay, I’ll try that. I fold my hands on my writing pad.
Just sitting here. Calmly.
Less and less calm.
Okay, how long did I last? Maybe a minute, tops. Crud. I just can’t do it. How do other people manage? They look so still and peaceful. I’m envious.
I worry about the impression that I’m giving out in this situation. Looking at me, you would think that I’m bored and don’t want to be here, which is not true. Maybe in some meetings I am, but I signed myself up for this presentation because I was interested in hearing how this group went through a business process that I went through this past spring, and how their experience differed from ours.
So if I really want to be here, why can’t I stay still? It’s nearly impossible. Even with a superhuman effort on my part, I can be still maybe a minute, tops. And then I’m concentrating all my attention on being still, so it kind of defeats the purpose.
I wish I could bring knitting to meetings. Knitting helps me focus my mind, in part, I think, because it gives me something to do with my hands. But even though it helps me to pay attention, to everyone else it would look like just the opposite; like my focus is elsewhere. People without ADHD don’t understand that I’m opposite from them because of my brain chemistry.
The hyperactivity doesn’t go over well in my personal life with people who don’t have ADHD, either. My ex-husband used to shout, “Why can’t you just sit still?” when I got up from my chair for the tenth or twelfth time in an hour. But in most personal life situations, it’s not as much of a faux pas when you’re unable to sit still as it is at work.
Staying completely still is obviously not an option for me. There’s some kind of kinetic energy that builds up (very quickly) in my body and has to be released. I have a large exercise ball at my desk that I sit on for about half of the day. I tend to bounce up and down on it every few minutes, especially when I’m thinking hard about something or trying to solve a problem. I wish I could bring that to every meeting, but that’s obviously not going to happen.
So what can you do with your hands in a meeting to keep them busy without being distracting or seeming distracted? Can’t tap a pencil against something – more distracting than just fidgeting. I could take notes. That’s something that you’re expected to do in this situation. Or (and this is better, since I have trouble taking notes and listening at the same time) I could bring a stress/fidget ball to meetings. I check out a site online that sells office toys. Lots of stress/fidget balls, and hey! Putty! That might be even less obtrusive. There’s even something called Thinking Putty. There’s a Bead Stress Ball, Play Foam, which is those foam beads, and of course your run-of-the-mill stress balls. My fingers are itching to try some of these.
Then there’s also isometric exercises. I remember reading an article years ago about exercising in a chair by squeezing and releasing your buttocks. It seemed pretty silly at the time, but if the goal is to release some kinetic energy unobtrusively, that would do it. Of course, the stress balls and such seem like more fun, but the exercises would be good for me. Hmmm….
Out comes the credit card. I’ll try both.