Are you ready for the holidays? I know I’m not. Each year I promise myself that I will get started earlier next year, but when next year gets here there seem to be all of these things that are pulling my attention elsewhere! I know you know the feeling! But if the holidays are to be what we want, then focus we must!
Planning, prioritizing, and organizing are three skills that are necessary to stay on top of things, yet those are three skills that are controlled by the executive functioning part of our brains. When you have ADHD, executive functioning is the part of your brain that is impaired. So what’s a person to do? Try these things to help yourself survive the rest of the holiday season.
- Simplify – keep decorations, baking, cooking, and shopping, at a minimum. We all need to heed this little piece of advice. Look around you and you will notice that things are ramping up and in the next few weeks will start to spin out of control. Try and keep yourself separate from all of that. Decide on a few things that are really important to you and focus on those.
- Make lists. My clients tell me this is hard because they already make lists. In fact, they make so many of them that they can’t find the ones they need and it contributes to the paper clutter, which creates more stress. Something that has worked for me for a lot of years now is to keep my lists all in the same notebook. I use steno notebooks because they are different than the usual notebook or sheet of paper which makes them easy to spot when things do pile up. I keep my steno pad next to me as I work. I continually add items to the book. Then from that book, I will transfer say, my grocery list to a sticky note, or notes about family members sizes I will put first in the notebook and then on a smaller piece of paper which goes in my wallet so it will be there as I shop. So why do it twice? If it’s in the notebook it isn’t going to get lost. Even if I lose the list in my wallet, I can always go back to the notebook to get the information. Somethings never leave the notebook, but for convenience in shopping, etc. some things do.
- Simplify your shopping by mapping out where you are going which will save you time and stress later. Pick a day and time when the shopping malls and stores will be less likely to be crowded. Do your shopping as early in the season as you can. You will be less likely to purchase impulsively and more likely to avoid crowds.
- Practice extreme self-care. If a massage will help you relax those tight muscles, schedule one. Put limits on how many invitations you will accept. Saying no if you are over extended is allowed. Really!!! Keep your expectations aligned with your values. What does this season mean to you? Don’t let all the hoopla steer you away from that. This might be an excellent time to keep that gratitude journal or list. Sometimes just five minutes to list all the things you can think of off the top of your head that you are grateful for can give you a quick attitude adjustment and bring your expectations back into alignment.
- What are your family traditions? As families grow and new members join, what brought you joy might now bring you stress. Give yourself permission to reevaluate. This one has been hard for me, but we started out a family of five and now we are now a family of 16 and growing! I’ll let you in on a little secret, the first year of changing traditions is the hardest! After that the new traditions are pretty well accepted.
- There are many demands on our time made at this time of the year from our jobs and communities. Everyone is trying their best to make our holidays special, and yet what really happens (if we aren’t careful) is that we are showing up for all the things we feel obligated to attend, and we are not showing up for all the things (and people) that we want to be present for.
- Don’t over-spend. It kind of ruins the whole gift giving thing when you go over your budget and into debt. Again, set your expectations, communicate them with your family and friends, and then implement them! Nobody will love you less if you stick to your budget. I promise!
I hope these things will be gentle reminders for you as you go through this season. Mostly I hope that each of you will truly allow yourselves to enjoy this season. Without joy, we just become scrooges!
If you would like some help with your holidays, just let me know. I’d be happy to brainstorm with you to help you keep this time simple and joyful!