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.