The Christmas season means lots of preparations, and for many people, family time in abundance. It means lots of preparation and stress. If you have ADHD this time of year can be even more difficult and overwhelming.
Here are 7 tips to stay calm during the festive season, and possibly even enjoy this time of year…
1. Fill yourself up
Those with ADHD tend to focus on others more than they focus on themselves. This leads to overwork, stress, overwhelm and illness.
You are constantly giving to those around you. This time of year can be very draining. It is vital that you fill yourself up every day with an activity that refreshes you. If you have worked hard at creating a good routine such as exercise, meditation or something else that nourishes your soul, at this time of year it is so easy to just drop it and let it go. By keeping up your routines, even something seemingly small, you will be guaranteed a more successful and easy Christmas period and smooth transition into the new year.
2. Decide Quickly
Over the next few weeks there will be many times when you will need to decide. Decision-making can be a nightmare. The decision-making process can overwhelm you and stop you functioning properly until you have made your decision. Then self-doubt and regret sets in…
Here are some quick and easy ideas to move you along your decision-making journey:
Narrow your possibilities. Face your fears. Recognise the difference between small and large decisions. Anticipate that you will make mistakes…and that is OK.
3. Deep Breathes
When you get stressed and tense, your “fight flight freeze” mechanism goes into high alert. You may unknowingly hold in your breath, and restrict your breathing. This stops oxygen from flowing to your brain. Your stress levels become higher, and thinking processes become muddled. Next time you get stressed, take some deep breathes and notice yourself becoming calmer and more focused.
4. Lower your expectations.
Are you a perfectionist? A common ADHD trait. Perfectionists, run themselves ragged, trying to achieve the impossible. A reasonable amount of pressure is healthy, it gets you moving. Too little pressure and you become bored and unmotivated.
I am going to introduce you to the traffic light system. Every task can be done on three levels, minimum, (green,) moderate (amber) and maximum (red.)
Reshift your focus! Every task that you approach needs to be done on the minimum level, (green) and if you have time, add a bit of polish and bring it up to the moderate level, (amber.) If you are trying to carry out your tasks to the red level, (perfection) you know that you are in danger zone…
Simplify your menus and your plans… I know you might feel like you are cheating, but honestly speaking is there an element of perfectionism involved here? You are setting yourself up for failure by striving to reach heights that are beyond your capabilities. Psychologists point out that we need to replace striving for perfection with striving for excellence. Lower your standards. Who are you trying to impress by your elaborate preparations? What will you gain by working yourself ragged?
Your Christmas plans don’t need to be on the perfect level, they just need to be “good enough.”
5. Expect things to not go as planned.
Let’s face it, you can spend so much time and effort planning for your Christmas event, and then things can go haywire in a second. Flexibility is one of the most important executive function skills you can acquire. You need the ability to think flexibly about different, often creative possible outcomes to your current problems.
Remember, you don’t have to get it right all the time. Expect to make mistakes. Expect problems to arise. When they do, find a way to flexibilise yourself to come up with alternative solutions. Or flexibilise yourself to adapt to your current situation.
When you are mentally prepared for mishaps you will be able to handle them better and overcome them and move on swiftly.
Can you find the sense of humour in the mishaps that are bound to happen? By laughing over them you create teaching moments for your loved ones. Remember the following, “Humour is tragedy plus time. “Carol Burnett.
6. Prepare for the next phase before it happens.
Foresight, or prospective thinking is another crucial executive function skill. If you have ADHD you may find this one really difficult. This is a skill that you can learn.
This crucial aspect of your planning is often overlooked. Life will move on. The Christmas season will soon be over, and the new year will be here. Prepare ahead and you will manage the transition phase with grace and ease. On your last day of work before Christmas, write a plan of to-do tasks to get to once you get back to the office in the new year. Write two lists, one to hang up at home, and one to hang up in your office. This tool will help to ground you and keep you focused. You will actually enjoy the festive season more when you do this.
7. Switch off your devices.
I dare you to try the following. During family get togethers, encourage all members to turn off their devices and phones. See what a difference it makes to your family time.
Take heart. This season will pass. With a bit of foresight and planning you will be left with lasting family memories. Most importantly you will feel energised for the new year ahead.
For more ADHD tips subscribe to Faigy’s youtube channel. Many tips on ADHD organisation and success. https://youtu.be/-yaIHYKRSmE
Faigy Liebermann is a certified ADHD life coach. She created the Focus Success Program, empowering her ADHD clients to access their potential.
Buy her book, “Own Your ADHD – Discover your true Potential.” from Amazon. She is the first ADHD coach in the UK to write a book about ADHD.
ADHD success coach working with professional mums who have children with ADHD, who want more focus and inner peace, working on systems to work smarter, not harder and have a more balanced work and home integration.