The holidays are nearly here! But do you enjoy them? If you answered no; don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Many adults with ADHD feel the same. While many people love vacation time away from work, eating good food and spending time with their families, it’s not always the case with ADHDers.
There are 6 reasons why ADHDers don’t like the holidays:
1) You (like everyone else), over-indulge in rich foods, sugar and wine. This exacerbates your ADHD and leaves you with brain fog, low in energy and even depressed.
2) Your usual weekday structure and routine is removed for the holidays. Without it, you feel blah and as if you are free-falling. Your routine is your safety net that helps you be productive, organized and fulfilled.
3) You really love your work and even though you love your family, hanging out at home is boring and under-stimulating.
4) Your usual exercise routine disappears (because it’s rude to leave your family or the gym is closed), which means a key part of controlling your ADHD and mood is missing.
5) Your confidence takes a beating. If you are good at your job, you are constantly getting positive feedback. This lifts your confidence and makes you feel good. In contrast, at home managing small household tasks is frustrating and overwhelming and zaps confidence.
6) You feel anxious when you aren’t at work. For some ADDers, particularly if work is where they can hyper-focus, they feel calm when they are working and anxious when they aren’t. So, long periods of not working can create anxiety.
On top of this ADHD list, there are all the usual reasons why people find the holidays stressful, like missing relatives that are no longer with you or spending time with in-laws that they don’t get along with, etc.
Rather than dread the holidays, here are things you can do to help you enjoy them.
1) Even though it is the holidays, you don’t have to eat tons of rich food. Think of a few things that are important for you, Grandma’s Christmas cake, etc. Then, enjoy the foods that have meaning to you and ignore the rest. There is an expectation that you have to eat and drink large quantities, but if you erase that social rule, it’s much easier to stick with your regular eating habits.
2) If you miss the structure of regular life, why not create some into your holidays too? Use the same guidelines for planning your weekend. Some down time, mixed with some planned things.
It does take a little bit of forward planning, that small investment of planning time will pay off.
3) Plan stimulating things to do. You don’t have to sit around and feel bored doing traditional holiday things. Print out a calendar and plan one really fun thing to do every day. Remember that as an ADHDer, you may find different things fun from other people, but that’s ok. Skiing, decorating your bedroom, etc., whatever is exciting to you.
4) You can still exercise during the holidays! You might have to be a bit creative if your gym is closed or you are travelling. However, you will be much happier when you keep up with exercising.
5) You get a shot of dopamine and feel good every time you complete a task. So, continue to make a to-do list even though you are on holidays. You might not get as much validation at home as at work, but if someone gives you a complement, write it down so you remember it.
The holiday can be stressful and if you are prone to anxiety, check out this article, it has THE best anti-anxiety strategy.
I agree with everything on your list but want to add one item to Number 5. My confidence has taken a beating all my adulthood during every holiday because of my family (my own and my in-laws). I’m the black sheep of the family and all of my decisions are questioned (living out of wedlock when I was younger and later getting divorced and “ruining my childrens’ lives”, not working at a single job my entire life). My family is traditional and I am not. I feel like a fish out of water about my life choices and opinions and holidays are painful. I’m down to only Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve now. 4th of July is spent with friends and my sons and it is so relaxing. My family are good people but I’m just very different and they don’t understand me. I like my life and am happy with my choices and especially my two sons. None of us fight so holidays aren’t the worst, just not what I’d like – I think that’s what family is all about in real life! ha ha I’m grateful I’m not alone.
I always get some post Xmas blues when all the excitement and sugar highs die down. I also have issues with other vacation times from work. If I don’t have things planned to do I become listless and depressed very easily. Also I find the same when my daughter goes away for school trips as she acts as my “body double” at home. I find it really tough to stick to my routines without her around. I am seriously afraid for myself when she leaves after post secondary is done as I am not sure I can handle being really alone.
I don’t like holidays/vacations. I feel easily depressed and miserable when I am out of my regular routine. I didn’t enjoy my maternity leaves eighter, it felt very “empty”. You tell me I never have to travel ever again and that would be fine by me. I feel like no one gets me, because “everyone likes to travel”, right? Wrong. I always -without fail – get depressed at some point when away from home. It always makes me feel like a weirdo…. I don’t think I have ADHD, but who knows…
Weekends and holidays are the worse because your routine is messed up and we all need structure. I find even staying off island with my best friend problematic because I cannot do the things I normally do to stay focused.
Instead of travelling elsewhere, I make a point of exploring my small island and getting to know others with the thought of making connections. This helps me to keep my photography going and helps me feeling like part of my community.
From now on; I will endeavour to attend more receptions and; still work on competition towards swim meets.
I envy others travelling but I use my time to make beautiful things and stay healthy for the many challenges ahead.
Hi Jacquie, all holidays drive me bats! I am full of energy every day to do the things that are important and, I have big dreams…however most people just sit around and use the holidays to do nothing. Not having a routine really makes any weekend painful to anticipate- so, I changed the day to do art from sunday to saturdays and arranged to see a junior coach in swimming for us Masters swimmers to improve on during the rest of the week. Fortunately, our pool is a community pool that opens all days except Christmas and New Year’s. I am like Ron as he mentioned above…that the pool is my social hub and I get to talk to the kids and all the parents and welcome swimmers from all over the world to swim with us. It gives me pleasure to meet new people including new refugees and let them know …here is a safe place on my small island.
Why do some of us hate the holidaze?
DESTINY DEFICIT. Some of us already feel our dreams and goals are reachable via a very thin neurochemical thread at times, so the holidays are a huge energy drain, a monster financial zapper and under-miner of all the hard work it took to gain a glimpse of the promised land of fulfilment : o
Best part of the holiday? What do I look forward to? The New Years re-focussing on what is really important during the other 360 ish days of the year. Getting back to my goals, dreams, getting back to PRIORITIES for family, self and DESTINY…getting back on the rails brings the positive energy and focus I desperately crave after holiday madness : )
You nailed it right on the head when you spoke about routines. My routine is/was shattered by visiting some of children and freezing due to their giant house having to keep the heat down. Christmas Day was a bummer sitting around with the usual crowd but did find a new person to talk to and that helped. I guess I am too friendly but I enjoy introducing myself and talking to new people. I ask them all sorts of questions but I like to hear what they say and where they are from. I try to make people feel at home. Its hard to be in a crowd without knowing anyone but I like it and make the rounds. When I worked in a large company, I got to know over 3,000 people working on the assembly lines and ever where I worked trying to get to know people, even the snobs and AH’s.
thank you so much!
Hi Ron! I totally hear you about cold houses. There is nothing worse! When I feel cold I lose motivation to do anything. However you did a great job turning the situation around and making it work for you. It sounds like you meet some very interesting people, and I am sure they really appreciated your friendliness.
ps..Regarding the daily work book…what sort of things would you like it to include?
Thanks for your comments !! I am thrilled you are enjoying Untapped Brilliance!
The trick is to stimulate yourself enough so you feel happy, productive and creative, but not too much that you feel frazzled and scattered.
Start by adding things to your life one at a time. This way you will know when you have the right balance without getting to frazzled. If you sign up for a class outside the home, like an art class, or yoga etc it will provide you with some external structure to your week and motivation to leave the house.
The steps in Untapped Brilliance, will help manage your ADHD
In terms of building up your confidence, lots of little victories and wins build your confidence in no time. Keep track of everything you do outside your comfort zone. Signed up for a class, yay! took my omega 3, yay! that sort of thing. It sounds basic, but it works really well.
Let me know how you get on!
I need a daily work book. What do you offer?
I am so excited about my new book of yours on my brilliant possibilities or potential. I am seventy & was at one time creative, stimulated by so much but have gotten more ADHD with age & less confident. Maybe my life will never be as active as before but this book is reviving me to jump back into life again & know that I can not lose my spirit. Thanks, EF
Actually, not having a job, other than being a good wife, I have no regular routine but would probably do better on one, like the change of Christmas celebrations. It can be stressful with all the parties and seeing family more but it does get me dressed up & out of the house more.my husband is very social so he is very happy when my boring routine is changed. I think it’s good for me.
Thanks Marcia!! The other problem with the holidays is there is so much pressure to ‘enjoy’ them…so that makes these feelings even worse!
You nailed it, Jacqui! I cannot WAIT until next week when things get back to “normal.”