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Adventure Deficit Disorder: scratch the itch, restore attention

Adventure Deficit Disorder is a lesser known condition that afflicts more of us than we might realise. It can disrupt satisfaction and prevent fulfilment. How can we be at our most productive when the itch nags away, unscratched. It's time we pulled this into the limelight and do our bit each day to lessen the negative impact it is having across the land. Treating this can have potentially beneficial effects on its relation, the other ADD, as attention is restored through contact with nature, and adventure. Time to get a little adventurous...



I champion an Adventure Neuropsychology approach to inspire and motivate others in the face of adversity and the challenges of life. This draws on escapades I have experienced as well as observing those who prevail in adventurous predicaments to provide insight into the mindset necessary to thrive under stress. As well as a basis in cutting-edge neuroscientific research into how the brain operates in extreme environments to optimise performance.

“Like its cousin, Attention Deficit Disorder, this is a condition that disrupts focus. By immersing in the outdoor environment with adventurous purpose, we can manage the condition better. This has restorative effect. It helps manage the default setting that spirals into rumination and anxiety if allowed to remain in conflict with the desire to do meaningful, purposeful things with your life."

Scratching the twitch


Sitting at your desk you feel a sense of impatience. Your fingers tap, your legs twitch.

Trying to focus on the spreadsheet, your gaze drifts out the window. You are transported off into the distance, the wind on your face, the mountain summit within grasp. Your pack is weighing you down as you gasp in the rarified air. These numbers just don’t add up. What am I going to cook the kids for dinner?


Call me Walter Mitty, but in my professional opinion, you just might be suffering from a bit of ADD.


No not that one, the other one. Adventure Deficit Disorder. Though the two are certainly related.


I categorically can say I have this ADD.


Probably a lifelong ‘sufferer’, the symptoms became hard to ignore during 2020 – the year of Infernal Lockdown.


It became obvious something had to be done the day I met my neighbour.


It’s all too easy to only see what is in front of you, what you are accustomed to. Lockdown, for all its woes at least helped local communities re-established contact with each other. I’d never actually met the neighbour who lives beyond my back garden. Doing some much needed clearance of bushes and trees was another therapeutic element of being confined to barracks, which probably helped open a line of communication with the chap on the other side of the fence.


That first meeting will indelibly be etched on each others’ consciousness.


Now a little context.


My first thought on hearing rumours of some virus on the way and potential restrictions to liberty were greeted with an indignant retort. No way am I going to stay put. My life is about getting out and about and doing adventurous things in the outdoors. I’ll carry on discretely doing so. Rules are for other people.


When the reality sank in and I realised we were all in this together, of course I adjusted my attitude. To do otherwise would be selfish and irresponsible.


Here was an opportunity to reframe perspective and be creative, repurposing the more immediate environment so as to remain active, fit, and relatively mentally healthy. Even to thrive and flourish in the change of routine.


As this coincided with a change in professional circumstance, and being in the same boat as the rest of the populace, I used the time to formulate my CognitvExplorer approach, do lots of remote networking and explore avenues. Aside from the frustrations and setbacks, leads that went nowhere, false promises, and mental health rollercoaster, it was actually a really productive time.


I reorganised my house, became more connected with my family, and digitally socialised with friends. I came up with some innovative exercise regimes, attaining higher levels of fitness than normal.


I put a tent up in the back garden with a mattress in it and used it as a chill out meditative space where more creative ideas could germinate.


Then came the day I met my neighbour.


I popped my head up over the fence from my position up the tree. Trees, we forget, as kids so quickly remind us, are for climbing. In many years of living here I had scarcely noticed that tree, given the overgrown surroundings. So why not climb the tree.


I could see my neighbour sitting on a bench whiling away the time surveying his domain.

The look on his face will always stay with me. A wave of confusion, bewilderment, horror. He jumped up and scuttled back inside, slamming the door.


So much for neighbourly love.


I suppose it didn’t help that I was wearing a mask and snorkel, was attached to a conglomeration of ropes strung up from the uppermost branches, and sporting a pair of flippers. Though perhaps it was the bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale I was wielding apparently threateningly in my left hand that was too much to bear. Or maybe it was my muffled greetings sounding more like Darth Vader after he has accidentally swallowed his light sabre.

The symptoms of Adventure Deficit Disorder can strike at any juncture in the day. The best thing to do is not suppress them but to act swiftly and decisively. As soon as you get a chance. Cooped up inside yesterday, obliged to perform various tasks whilst others basked in the sunshine, I formed an idea that was to be just the antidote to satisfy this condition.


As soon as I could break free, I jumped in the car, and slung various items of equipment in the boot, heading off the coast. A beach in North Wales offered the perfect solace.


My blow up boat took me off across the sea, and bobbing about, I gazed thoughfully at the clouds above and the sea birds wheeling around me.


Total bliss. The symptoms subsided. I had a plunge in the briny to finish off.

Like its cousin, Attention Deficit Disorder, this is a condition that disrupts focus. By immersing in the outdoor environment with adventurous purpose, we can manage the condition better. This has restorative effect. It helps manage the default setting that spirals into rumination and anxiety if allowed to remain in conflict with the desire to do meaningful, purposeful things with your life.


Now we can’t all just drop everything on a whim and rush off to live the life of a pirate, explorer, or space-Billionaire. But we can nurture the adventurous idea and act on it when our schedule allows. And we should. I could have just settled down to some Netflix or gone through the motions of relaxing in the house. But instead making that effort re-energised me, helped me control my ADD, and gave me a new lease of life the following morning (today) to approach the necessary demands of the everyday. Knowing that as soon as I get a break again, I will get to indulge in some adventurous activity or other. You’d be surprised what you can get up to with such a mind.


And between you and me, even if you are chained to your desk, beholden to the demands of others, you can still think adventurous thoughts.


No one need even know but you.





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