Updated: May 10
The holidays can be a hectic and stressful time for anyone, but for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be especially trying. Between increased distractions, shopping, cooking and family gatherings, the holidays are ripe with potential pitfalls for those with ADHD.
But, before you walk away with anxiety trailing close behind, I am here to remind you that ADHD is not only a disability. Sometimes, ADHD can be a gift. With greater attention to planning, preparation and self-care, individuals with ADHD can navigate these obstacles and better manage their symptoms and thrive during this festive season.
One of the most important things to remember when managing ADHD during the holidays is to be aware of your environment. Being in a crowded mall or at a large family gathering may contribute to heightened levels of stimulation that could lead to distraction or negative behavior.
Try to frequently check in with yourself and identify triggers that may result in disruptive behavior or outbursts. It’s also beneficial to take breaks from situations where you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated; go somewhere quiet to rest and recharge before returning back into the chaos of holiday gathering.
The same goes for parents of children with ADHD. We need to be especially aware of their environment and the potential triggers it can present. An atmosphere that's bustling and hectic can stimulate a child's ADHD symptoms, making it more difficult for the child to concentrate and follow directions - causing frustration and anger for all involved.
Therefore, activities should be planned in advance (as best as possible) and should include breaks (as best as possible) so that any overstimulation can be avoided. Parents should also consider incorporating outdoor activities into the holidays if possible - getting some fresh air and going for a walk can help to reduce stress levels among children, promoting a healthier holiday season for the entire family.
Being aware of your environment also entails minimizing distractions and creating the space for tasks to be completed with greater ease. Every individual will have unique needs and preferences. Let us remember that mental health solutions, suggestions, and treatment is not one size fits all. That is why it is beneficial to be self aware and realistic.
It’s also important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your family this holiday season as you plan ahead. While you look at your calendar, strive for progress rather than perfection as well as mindful organization rather than feeling like every detail needs to be included.
Setting achievable goals within your holiday plans so that you can focus on incremental successes. This will help you stay motivated throughout the holiday season, without overburdening yourself with unrealistic expectations.
This is especially true if you or a loved one are living with ADHD or other learning disabilities. Setting appropriate goals and managing stress over the holiday season can help reduce anxiety, aid in coping skills and ensure a healthy balance between celebrating, traveling, shopping and spending time with friends and family.
Options like adhering to a tightly structured routine, planning downtime for relaxation activities or challenging yourself to try new things each day can all prove beneficial when managing holiday pressures.
Additionally, planning ahead can help provide structure which can reduce impulsivity and poor decision making in an unfamiliar environment. Make sure to plan out your day ahead of time – including meals – so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed or make impulsive decisions based on stress or external pressures.
Take Care of Yourself
While it is important to focus on the family celebrations and traditions, it is also important to practice self-care strategies during this time. For those living with adhd - whether children or adults- prioritizing breaks throughout the busy days may be beneficial for both productivity and for mental health.
Even if it’s just taking a few minutes to step away from a task or activity to breath deeply or practice relaxation techniques, every bit counts! Self care can look different for each individual person and should be further explored depending on one’s unique needs.
Self care is also one of the best ways to ensure a positive experience for kids with adhd. This can look like clearly communicating expectations ahead of time, setting boundaries and ensuring plenty of rest, playtime and nutritious food throughout the holidays. Taking small actions in this way can make all the difference in how adhd kids process external stressors during this time, helping to guarantee a joyous experience for them (and the parent).
For adults (or kids or families), self care activities can include practices such as meditation, yoga, walks in nature, reading a book, listening to music, or journaling. Making time for yourself amidst the hustle of the season can help ensure that your energy stays intact in order to have a more peaceful holiday experience.
With this in mind, taking breaks from daily activities when necessary is essential in ensuring proper physical and mental health throughout the hustle and bustle of the season. Yes, even if it means missing some events or getting less done than expected.
Furthermore, it is worth noting the importance of incorporating meditation into your daily routine. This can help decrease stress levels while strengthening focus and concentration - essential skills when navigating complicated scenarios like those found during the holidays!
So, this holiday season, if you are navigating the management of ADHD, remember: Managing ADHD during the holidays doesn’t need to be overwhelming or intimidating! By staying mindful of surroundings, setting realistic goals while prioritizing self-care - individuals living with ADHD can easily navigate this festive season while still enjoying its many joys!
Let us know how YOU manage ADHD during the season! Stop by our Instagram page or drop a comment below!
Again, there is no one size fits all approach to treating ADHD. If you are not sure which options would be good for you, or if your symptoms become unmanageable, it’s best practice to consult a medical professional about which treatment options would be best so that you can ensure a safe and memorable holiday experience!
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