Symptom Management over the Holidays 

As we enter December and all the holidays that go with it, I want to talk about managing ADHD Symptoms over the holidays. The fall and winter have a lot of holidays, and with that comes all the fun and merriment, of course. However, I want to acknowledge that for many of us, this time of year can cause a lot of distress. Holidays can trigger symptoms in a lot of different ways: increased social obligations/anxiety, throwing off routines, internalized and/or externalized pressures, financial stress, feelings of isolation or FOMO, perfectionism for having the most fun or getting someone the perfect gift, time management for all of these new obligations, sensory overload to the changing weather and daylight hours, decision paralysis- I could go on and on, but I think y’all get the point. 

I know I’m making some assumptions here, but the rest of the year, y’all have been working hard on your established routines and systems to manage your symptoms, and then November/December come around and throw off everything because of the holidays. 

I’m here to tell y’all that it’s okay if feelings of overwhelm creep in because of the holidays. It’s an emotionally charged time for a lot of people. The systems, routines, and coping skills that have helped you the rest of the year may or may not be helpful now. If they aren’t helpful, it’s not a failure on your part, or your systems part. It just means that a new, temporary routine or system may be needed in the short-term to help you for this time of year. It means that practicing mindfulness tactics and giving yourself grace to make mistakes is going to be more important. 

With the upcoming holidays, what are your concerns? What are the potential problems you may encounter? Do you need to talk about these concerns, write them down, or find a different way to organize them so that you can address them? 

Once you’ve identified the concerns, what is needed to make yourself feel better about each one? What do you need to do to set yourself up for success? What tools do you need? How do you need to manage your time? 

Or, how rational are these concerns? Are they likely to happen, or a cognitive distortion induced by anxiety? What is the best-case scenario? What is the worst-case scenario? What is in the middle-case scenario?

What is the top priority, what is the lowest priority? What needs to happen when? 

What boundaries do you need to set for yourself or others? How will you implement those boundaries? What might get in the way of setting them and keeping them? How can you combat what will get in the way? 

How can you ground yourself, or engage in self-care, when things begin to get overwhelming? 

When the holidays have passed, and it is time to get back to your day-to-day as usual without interruptions, how can you start to rebuild those old systems, routines, and/or coping skills? How will you know when it is time to implement them again? 

I want you all to have safe and happy holidays! Take care of yourselves. 

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