Adult ADHD and Morning Commutes

September 2, 2013 Elizabeth Prager

I live in the great state of Maryland and commute every morning from my fair city to Baltimore, MD. It takes about 45 minutes on the commuter rail and often goes off without a hitch. Then, there are the other mornings when I want to rip my hair out - but, don't, because it's short enough already. What makes certain mornings intolerable? Noisy fellow commuters.I'm not a big fan of distractions when I'm attempting to focus. Most mornings, I drink my breakfast smoothie and read a bit of a novel before getting down to studying. It's a good way to start my day of intense science-y learning. It's a pleasure when I'm able to start my day with peace, quiet, and a good story.

I'm not always successful, though, because I can't find the peace or the quiet. Sometimes a person will come onto the train and sit by me - that by itself isn't a real issue. The real issue is that they've brought their cell phone conversation with them, or they've brought their tablet game without headphones. And, sometimes, they've brought their headphones and I can still hear their music.

The fix? Well, it ain't an easy one that's for sure. Sometimes, I get up and move - but, that doesn't always do the trick, because there are more people making noise. So far, the best thing I've come across are noise canceling headphones. The real issue with these is that you still need to have the volume on full blast to block out very close distracting noises. Often, my ears can't take the full blast ...

Being able to selectively attend when there is competing stimuli isn't something we're all necessarily great at. When we're reading our book or doing paperwork, a person nearby's seemingly innocent activity can be something we just can't ignore. This is one of the hardest parts I find about having Adult ADHD. The little noises heard or movements seen from the corner of an eye can take a good day and make it into a frustrating one.

When I'm on the train and I hear someone on their cell phone, I find it almost impossible to continue functioning how I was before they boarded the train. The headphones help, but they're only an option in train-like situations. In class, when I hear people talking in the back of the room, I can't turn on my headphones and still pay attention to my professor - that would be both rude and ineffectual, since it would block out the teacher's voice, too.

Headphones are a good start and I'm not sure really where to go from there. Let me know what you all do!

APA Reference
Prager, E. (2013, September 2). Adult ADHD and Morning Commutes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Elizabeth Prager

September, 7 2013 at 3:55 pm

This is an issue for me as well. Although my commute is not as long as yours, it is still loud and crowded. I have tried talking to myself, almost audible. More mumbling. I take deep breaths and remind myself it's going to end soon and I can only control myself. But mostly, I use actual ear plugs (not noise canceling headphones). Ear plugs are great. They get rid of extra stimuli. I am able to read or play a game on my tablet, as long as it doesn't require noise, to keep myself calm. I can hear nothing from no one. I love it!
Hope this helps some!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Prager
September, 8 2013 at 5:44 am

Thanks, Jaz! Ear plugs are a really great idea!

Leave a reply