ADHD Waiting

The Challenge of Patience: ADHD and the Struggle with Waiting

For those with ADHD, waiting can be an especially frustrating experience, often manifesting as restlessness and heightened anxiety. This difficulty is linked to ADHD's core symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity, which make it hard to remain patient during delays. The ADHD brain's constant search for stimulation contributes to discomfort in slow-paced or unengaging situations. Developing coping strategies, such as engaging in light activities during waits or practicing mindfulness, can help manage these feelings. Understanding this connection is key to handling situations that require patience, reducing stress and anxiety associated with waiting.

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ADHD & Waiting: An Official ADHD Symptom

How long do you think you can wait for someone patiently? Let me ask a different, but still related question: how's your patience when anticipating some things to happen? Honestly, I don't want to wait for long as the anxiety and anticipation can become overwhelming for me🥺. And because I put too much (mental) effort in waiting, I get annoyed when that someone or something I’m waiting for doesn’t arrive. 

If you have ADHD, listen up👂. 

Having trouble waiting is one of the official symptoms of ADHD. People diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tend to have little patience when waiting, especially when they feel like they have so many important things to do.

did you know that having trouble to wait is an official ADHD symptom?

Being anxious while waiting can be due to our short attention span, making us easily distracted and unfocused during waiting times. Our hyperactive characteristics, which are a part of our daily life, can also cause us to be impatient. The feeling of always being on the go or having too much energy can make us restless, making it hard to stay still or calm.

When Patience Wears Thin

Like most people, I don’t like waiting. But, unlike some people, I may not be very good at handling my emotions when waiting. In my mind, I always think: instead of waiting, I could very well be doing something productive now 😭!

that's why we can get easily frustrated when we have to wait...

Sometimes, it can be difficult for people with ADHD to handle their emotions. We tend to lose our temper quickly when anxious, sad, or tired, especially when waiting. The feelings that long waiting triggers can become overwhelming.

like when we wait for someone

Take me, for instance. I tend to feel frustrated when the person I'm meeting with arrives late or the food I ordered gets delayed. I realize that the excitement I felt while expecting something turns into disappointment and frustration while waiting, often making my ADHD brain impatient and a little bit cranky😔.

for something we ordered...

To be honest, there are even times when the frustration and disappointment I feel due to waiting become unreasonable. Sometimes, even if the cause of delay is understandable and I can make up for the time lost while waiting, I'll still feel angry. Thankfully, with a few deep breaths, I often regain control and become better able at focusing on the problem👌.

Waiting Mode Activated

Being stuck at the moment can sometimes make an ADHD brain uncomfortable. If there is an unexpected delay, I frequently look at my watch or constantly check my phone📱. This behavior sometimes makes me feel like a child who cannot control their emotions. When I am in waiting mode, I often feel impatient and anxious, but I can't do anything about it. With nothing else to do but wait, an ADHD brain 🧠 often feels like it cannot control what is happening.

to go somewhere...

For me, the worst part of waiting is not knowing when things are getting back on track.  For example, when our flight got canceled because of force majeure, I had no choice but to wait and delay our vacation plans. That cancellation alone is already stressful, but what’s worse is that the airline staff didn't provide any specific details about the resumption of our flight! This can make many people with ADHD even more anxious😭!

these situations can make us feel stuck in "waiting mode"

The struggle of waiting continuously for something without any specific details about what we are waiting for can be physically and mentally exhausting. The uncertainty can sometimes lead to frustration and even anger. That’s usually when we let our hyperactivity take over. We end up frequently checking the time or our phone or pacing back and forth while waiting.

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It is Normal to Wait and Get Frustrated

It is part of our everyday life to wait. Everyone - including neurotypical people - experiences waiting almost everyday. We wait for our computer to start💻, the coffee to brew, our coworker to reply. 

However, ADHD affects our waiting times differently. A person with ADHD might struggle more than anyone else when it comes to waiting. Being on the go or having too much energy can make us restless, making it hard to sit still or calm. Here are other effects of waiting for an ADHD brain:

Poorer Time Management

When we rely on a particular timetable and schedule, delays or inconveniences can throw us off and frustrate us quickly. Sometimes, adults with ADHD have trouble with "time blindness" and cannot easily assess the right amount of time required to accomplish their activities. This can especially happen when they spend most of their time waiting.

Difficulty to Focus

Idle waiting can make our ADHD brain wander more than usual and may result in intense daydreaming or racing thoughts😵. This can make it harder for us to focus, even if we decide to do something productive while waiting. 


Anxiety is often associated with ADHD and waiting, but especially when we don't know how long we need to wait. High levels of anxiety can have an impact on our other ADHD symptoms. 


When an ADHD brain gets clouded by emotions due to waiting, it may only take a matter of minutes, and we can go from feeling frustrated to angry. The emotional roller coaster we experience while waiting can be tough to handle, especially when it's taking a toll on our daily activities and productivity.

How to Improve ADHD Waiting?

After an ADHD diagnosis, we should be able to understand most things about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, like not getting enough sleep 🥱 will make us lose focus the next day and will most likely give us headaches.  We’ll also learn that when waiting, our ADHD symptoms can be triggered due to anxiety.

Knowing these gives you the answers you'll need to improve the way you handle waiting. Here are some of the most common and practical tips:

  • Find a Distraction - When we get too focused on what we are waiting for, our minds tend to wander off and become more prone to anxiety. To prevent this, we can try to find a task to take our minds off waiting. Try reading a book📚 , listening to music, or talking to friends.
  • Be Prepared - One of the best ways to avoid frustration while waiting is to be prepared. This usually means anticipating how long you’ll have to wait and perhaps expecting that you might wait longer than that. This way, you can manage your time and emotions better since you are expecting the situation.
  • Relax - Another way to ease the anxious feeling while waiting is by relaxing your body and mind. This can be done by deep breathing exercises or even simple stretches. Find a comfortable position and focus on your breath to help you relax.
  • Meditate - One of the best ways to calm an anxious mind is through meditation🧘. This can help you focus on the present moment and be more aware of your thoughts and emotions. Meditation can be done anywhere and only takes a few minutes of your time.

By following these tips, you can become better at handling waiting times. Remember that taking care of your mental health is essential, especially if you have ADHD. If you're ever feeling overwhelmed or anxious, don't hesitate to seek professional help👩‍⚕️.

ADHD & Waiting

ADHD and Waiting: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Is having difficulty waiting a symptom of ADHD?

Yes, having trouble waiting is an official ADHD symptom. Hence, while anyone can have trouble with waiting, people with ADHD might experience it more intensely. 

What can happen if a person with ADHD cannot handle their emotions well while waiting?

When a person with ADHD cannot handle their emotions well while waiting, their feelings might intensify and affect the people around them. For instance, frustration might turn into anger easily.

How can you better manage the way you handle waiting times?

One of the best ways to handle waiting times is to anticipate how long you’ll have to wait and prepare for it. You can bring items to distract yourself, like books, a set of songs, or a mobile game. 

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