A standing desk with computer against a blue wall.

The Surprising Benefit of a Standing Desk for ADHD

I expected a standing desk to be helpful for my back; what I didn’t expect was that it would be even more helpful for my ADHD!

In order to explain, let me talk for a moment about the ADHD mind, and how distractibility and impulsivity both benefit and get in the way of my creative work.

ADHD Brains are FULL of Thoughts

People with ADHD often talk about how they have many thoughts at once. There is a neurological reason for this (one of my favourite sources for learning about ADHD are these talks by Dr. Richard Barkley), but basically it boils down to this: we don’t filter out our sidetracking thoughts as well as neurotypical people.

This can lead to fantastic creativity and outside the box thinking. As an academic, people liked the unusual connections I made between different topics.

A cartoon. One bunny says "what's that?" The other bunny has multicoloured scribbles erupting from head and responds "It's just my mind."

It’s hard to keep track of these thoughts! From Dirk’s Big Bunnies

But for me, the more intensely I am thinking about something, the more overall thoughts I have and the less ability I have to focus on a single train of thought. So, I pretty regularly go from having creative insights to pacing around the house giving imaginary speeches, having imaginary arguments, or accepting my imaginary oscars.

The pacing is always part of it for me, as well. The creative energy builds up until I end up doing circuits around my main floor at top speed. Even if I stay on topic, I become too energetic to sit at my computer and write about it.

The Amazing Change: A Standing Desk

As readers of the Structured Space blog series know, I am involved in updating my office. The main functional change has been to replace my old sitting desk with a new standing one.

We chose this desk because I’ve been having back problems. My partner has used one for years at his work, and we’ve been on the look out for one that wouldn’t feel too utilitarian in our home. We finally found one and set it up in March.

I had been expecting to sort of hate it. Standing at my desk sounded tiring.

But instead I found that I loved it, not for my back, but for my ADHD.

Now when the creative energy builds up, I can start to pace but still write as I pass by my computer. And I can move more as I think, burning up some of that energy without pacing.

It’s now so easy to leave AND come back to my computer, that I can stop myself from going all the way to Oscar speeches. I can pause and think about the memes that might go with this post, but not lose myself in wondering about the historical significance of stick figures in the 21st century.

THIS WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING!!!! Or, you know, one thing

I’m really excited about the difference this makes, but truthfully, I still do a lot of writing on the couch or on the floor. My back problems have left me tired, and also, I’m not in the habit of using the desk.

And as weird as it sounds, I keep forgetting that the desk is useful when I USE it, not just because I know that it’s useful.

Obviously, the desk doesn’t actually solve everything. I don’t know whether it’s ADHD or just my personality, but I tend to be all-in like that when something that works, and then disappointed when everything is not actually solved.

One of the reasons I want to try to develop my space not just in terms of organization but in terms of design is to keep a larger picture in my head… the picture of how I use my space and what supports me and what holds me back. I want to tweek these things until I can create the most supportive space possible, and not get hung up on one individual element.

Join Me in the Structured Space group

Do you have a thing that’s worked for you like this desk has worked for me? Or would you like to explore how design might help you or someone you take care of with ADHD symptoms? Join me in my facebook group, The Structured Space. It’s still small, but we’d love to see you there and start digging into how design could fit with¬†your ADHD strategies!

Text overlay on blue background with grey pencil "Suprising benefits of a standing desk for ADHD. The Structured Space"

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