Hyperfixation: What It Is and How to Overcome It
We have now successfully attained an environment where discussing mental health is more severe and open than ever. Pandemic has taught us to value our sanity and practice mindfulness much actively in our everyday life. Several mental health awareness programs have been conducted to wary people about some of the unknown mental illnesses, and Hyperfixation is one of them.
We are so observant as social beings and love to keep our focus on something that interests us. Nevertheless, focusing on something for an unusually long duration isn’t normal. We binge watch series and movies in our pass time and do not realize that the whole day has passed by, but doing this very often and the inability to draw back our attention to the reality and happenings around us is a matter of concern.
To understand more about Hyperfixation, one needs to closely identify how it feels like and what its consequences are in adults and children.
What is Hyperfixation?
Hyperfixation meaning has been deeply rooted in ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The condition is known by several names such as Hyperfocus, and one of the psychologists in the 1990s also termed the illness as ‘Flow.’ He said that,
It’s when you become fully engaged in a challenging activity you enjoy. You shut out the rest of the world and even lose track of time.
Experts have mentioned that the condition emerges as a result when one is suffering from ADHD. A person suffering from Hyperfixation would be obsessed and fixated upon a particular thing, person, hobby, or even multiple things. Medical experts and various psychologists have claimed that it would be wrong to define Hyperfocus as a complete mental illness. Instead, it is a coping mechanism where a person is most likely trying to avoid any negative emotion or stress in their life. The condition then turns into obsession.
Based on their observation and experience, Doctors have also concluded that people who are not suffering from ADHD could witness Hyperfocus as a condition. An individual with other mental disorders such as Autism, anxiety, depression is also likely to hyper-fixate on things, people, or anything in their surroundings. However, people with ADHD are more prone to experience Hyperfixation at some point in their life, and it is difficult for them to come out of this trance.
Why do People Hyperfixate?
As we talked about the basic Hyperfixation definition, we realized that people trying to overcome negative thoughts and other mental conditions fixate or distract their attention over a particular thing. It would last longer than usual, and it takes time for them to snap out of it, especially for people with ADHD conditions. Most probably try to focus on the most challenging things that are the hardest to accomplish, resulting from hyperactivity and drains a lot of energy from their brains.
Hyperfixation and Addiction
Now, hyper fixation and addiction must not be confused since both conditions are very different. Addiction tends to come back even if a person was clean for more than a decade. However, in the case of Hyperfixation, it is more like a spell where one is obsessed and fixated over a particular person or activity. They would have the consistent urge to perform the action they were addicted to in their past years. After a short duration, they would just slip out of the fixation on their own.
Hyperfixation is more about depending on something that lasts longer, becomes unsustainable, and is pretty much harmful. However, addiction is all-consuming, even if it lasts for a shorter duration. You would be ready to harm someone when it comes to addiction to something, but it is not the case in Hyperfocus. It just makes you lose around the happenings and enables you to perform best when it comes to learning something or completing a task due to a high attention span.
What Are the Different Kinds of Hyperfixation?
It would be wrong to assume that Hyprefixation means employing great attention and concentration over things or hobbies. You would be surprised to know that humans can fixate or obsess over different things, even fixation over any imaginary character. Hence there are different kinds of Hyperfixation depending on what a person gains interest in over that particular time.
Hyperfixation on Imaginary Characters/Personas
When we were kids, we made personas or imaginary characters in our minds to give us a sense of direction and stimulate likingness over an imaginary friend. We would usually reconcile with the characteristic of that persona created out of our subconscious mind. It was more of a childish play. But adults could do that too. We could read a book and fixate over a specific fictional character if we find them very similar to our personality and mindset.
Hyperfixation on an imaginary or fictional character would mean an individual would start behaving and acting like the character. They would have a strong passion and obsession over that fictional character and develop a second persona. As a result, it negatively affects their lives.
Hyperfixation on a Person
It happens to most of us. However, it is not always a critical problem, and most of us overcome the condition. However, some people find it challenging to stop thinking about a person they fix or obsess over repeatedly. The person could be a best friend, a stranger you recently met, your dating partner, or even a person you are captivated by.
Most of the time, when an average person fixates on another person, they would soon forget about them after a specific period. However, people who have ADHD and, as a result, are witnessing hyper fixation on a person would find it utterly hard and impossible to forget about the person and divert their attention to something else.
Hyperfixation on Thoughts
People suffering from depression and anxiety would most probably try to shift their thoughts to something less miserable and drains less of their energy. Hyperfixation of thoughts is a common illness. People with ADHD are more prone to witness the problem of consistently thinking about a specific thought or view in their minds.
They try hard to escape it but cannot, and as a result, it influences their mental peace and health. People would find themselves procrastinating their day’s activity and feel utterly sensitive towards the thought they are obsessed.
Hyperfixation on Movies/Books/Series
It is one of the most common fixations every one of us experiences since we all live in a digital world, and who does not want to watch movies and series. Hence, a person who begins Hyperfixation on films or shows that interest them. An individual would generally start watching a movie or any show and would get hooked to it. They would wait for the new episodes to arrive and would binge-watch the entire day.
It is not a good thing to do so since they would waste their entire day and keep watching movies. They would find it impossible to leave their desktop, tablet, or phones on which they are watching the show. This kind of Hyperfixation could continue for several years if no help is received on time.
What are some Consequences of Hyperfixation?
If there are advantages of Hyperfixation, there are demerits too. Hyperfocus could help a person complete a task beforehand, bring dedication and interest in a particular area, and improve the skills or relationship on which one is focused. However, the negative influence is more especially concerned with mental health and peace.
Forgetting the Routine Task
Hyperfixation could be strong and would take away all your precious time. One would be so fixed in front of their phone screen, playing video games, reading books, or thinking about a consistent thought that they would forget about doing their routine tasks such as eating and sleeping. It highly affects their everyday performance at work and other activities too.
If you keep obsessing over a particular thing and forget about everything, you would have the urge to keep doing it even when it is time to sleep. People who develop Hyperfixation as a result of ADHD would have trouble sleeping and experience nightmares too due to disturbed sleeping patterns. Since their minds would be active due to Hyperfixation, they could develop other mental health issues too.
Consistent Feeling of Isolation
Hyperfixation in a person creates trouble and resistance to socialize with people. They would distance themselves from their surroundings and constantly search to find the thing they are obsess about, causing them to feel bored otherwise.
Physical and Emotional Inavailabitlity
Our friends and family are an essential part of our lives, but when a person starts experiencing Hyperfixation, they leave behind everything. They would be emotionally or physically unavailable for the crucial relationships and people in their life and neglecting everything. This also leaves them vulnerable and isolated.
How to Stop Hyperfixation?
While we have discussed in-depth the probable reason for Hyperfixation and how it can affect an individual, it is also essential to consider the ways and means of fixing or improving a mental illness like Hyperfixation.
Most people with Hyperfocus do not realize that they have a mental condition and need help to improve it.
Tips to Remember:
Hence, here are a few tips and tricks that one can try to improve their situation.
- To solve a problem, the first step is to identify it. So to improve Hyperfixation, recognize you are obsessing over what? Once you realize that, you will come to a step closer to solving the mental illness.
- Set commitment and boundaries while you engage in a task in your area of interest. Do not try to begin a job before your bedtime that makes you hyperfocused. Try to stop the moment you start procrastinating the following activity of the day. Due to the previous one as it would be a sign of Hyperfixation.
- Keep track of your thoughts and be attentive when you feel you are experiencing Hyperfixation again; if you do that, you will eventually know when to stop.
- Try meditating and listening to soft music or podcast that promote positivity and mindfulness. Always try to stay in the present.
- Try changing your position while completing a task. A particular place has an equal effect of staying Hyperfocus on something that causes losing time. Fix up timers to check how much time you have devoted to doing the task.
- If the condition worsens, especially when you already have ADHD, visit an expert psychologist. Who would help you cope with the situation and even assist you with some medication. To curb the cause and its effect.
Hyperfixation is a problem, and it is essential to acknowledge it. Any condition associated with mental wellness that affects your physical health is always a matter of concern. That needs proper diagnosis and treatment.
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