How to Get Thru the Holidays

Holidays should be joyful, and it doesn’t always work out that way. Maybe you love the sparkle and excitement of the holidays but quickly get so overwhelmed by them, or maybe the holidays are a time you dread because you view each social event as a potential opportunity for failure. Either way, this newsletter is for you!

Fighting Holiday Overwhelm

Enter the holiday season with intention.  Early on, pause and think about these questions:

  • What do you really want to get out of the holidays?
  • Who do you want to reconnect with?
  • What do the holidays mean to you?
  • What’s important to you about the holidays?
  • What have you learned from past holidays?

What worked? What didn’t? Repeat what worked, and record what you learned so you remember.

Set a Budget for Time
How much time can you devote to holiday activities?  Sometimes, we overcommit and get stressed. Figure out how much time you have to spend on holiday-related activities. Create a time budget and subtract from it every time you commit to something.

Make a Plan

  • What do you need to enter the holiday season with confidence?  Plan to get the support you need.
  • Are there parties, shows, concerts, events, etc. you want to go to?  Buy your tickets early and put them in your calendar.
  • Add your holiday activities to your calendar and schedule your other commitments around them.

Set a Financial Budget
Holidays can end in regrets because of overspending. Set a budget and avoid impulse buys.

  • Create a list of who you want to gift and how much you want to spend.
  • Research or consider what gifts to give each person on the list.
  • Identify where you will purchase gifts and make your purchases.
  • Waiting until the last minute to buy your gifts in hopes of catching a deal isn’t a good idea. In the frenzy of deal hunting, we’re more likely to overspend.
  • If you enjoy looking at the festive holiday decorations in the stores, leave your credit cards at home.

Taking the Dread Out of Social Events

Some of us simply dread the holiday season because of the extra demands being placed upon us, the sensory overload, or fear of social failure.  Whatever it is for you, pause, acknowledge it, and resolve to make it through the holidays with grace. Here are some tips to get you through the holidays.

First, consider what parts of the holiday season you dread the most—you know those things that give you more anxiety and stress than joy.

  • Get rid of them, if you can.
  • Change things to make them more palatable. Maybe you can bring someone with you to the party, or you can bring an entrée you enjoy to share at a get-together.

What if you find social events enjoyable at first, but after a while, you run out of steam and get tired, frustrated, and say something that lands badly? When the ADHD brain is tired, it loses its filter.  The ADHD brain is constantly running. As a result, our energy levels deplete faster than neurotypicals.  So, the trick to getting through holiday events is all about energy conservation.

  • Reframe how you regard it.  Sometimes, we do things because someone we love wants or needs us to. Take a deep breath and focus on how you are making the person you love happy instead of focusing on how unhappy you are.
  • Recharge your energy before the social occasion. That means getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, exercising to get endorphins flowing, or doing yoga or meditation to center yourself. You will go further if your batteries are fully charged before the event.
  • Know your limits.  How long can you handle a social event?  Be honest. If you can only handle an hour, let the host and those with you know you will only stay that long.  Or, when your energy is depleted, go for a walk or find a quiet space to recharge.
  • Get support.  If you go to the event with an ally (friend or family), ask them to help you avoid troublesome situations or arrange a cue so that you know when to stop (talking or whatever it is you are doing) or to change the subject.

What if the problem is another person at the event who knows how to trigger you? Take a deep breath, you’ve got this. So, what do you do if you can’t avoid them?

  • Have a buddy whose job it is to rescue you if this person corners you or engages you in a conversation.
  • Come prepared with a scripted response to defuse the situation. Write it out and put it in your pocket.  Here’s an example:  “I’d like to discuss this with you and be able to give you my full attention. Unfortunately, I can’t do that now. Let’s get together (later or never) to talk about this.”

What if your time blindness tends to sabotage you, and you showed up late and delayed the event?  If you haven’t already apologized for your lateness, this is a good time to do it. Tell the host you’re planning to be punctual this year, but that if you are not, to start without you. 

Here are a few things to help you arrive on time:

  • Do a dry run from your starting point to the party location to see how long it will take to get there and add 15 minutes for whatever will go wrong. That will inform you of when you have to leave in order to arrive on time.  You might also want to figure out how long it will take you to get ready, in order to be fully prepared.
  • Go to the event with a buddy. Let your punctual friend set the meeting time and place or have them pick you up at the designated time and place.
  • Have a plan for what you will do if you arrive early and don’t want to show up 30 minutes before the party begins.  Example:  is there a nearby coffeehouse?

What if last year you forgot to bring whatever it was you were supposed to bring?

  • Confirm what you are expected to bring (if it’s food or drink) or the parameters around gifts (value, type).
  • Give yourself reminders (visual, digital, auditory) to get what you’re bringing and to actually bring it.
  • Put it in your car, a bag by the door, etc. early.
  • Have it sent or delivered (outsource it)

To sum it up, keep it simple, plan in advance, pause, relax and have a great holiday season!
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Here’s a holiday treat for you. This is a really interesting Ted talk that will give you hope as you deal with your challenges.

Watch Now

Partner Up News

Thanks to the support of many of you, I became certified as a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation this year. I am thankful for your support in getting this higher-level certification. Next year, I will join the faculty (part-time) of the ADD Coach Academy to train new ADHD coaches.  This is an incredible honor, and it has been a great learning experience. I became a much better litigator when I started teaching trial skills programs, and I would expect the same thing will happen as I teach coaching skills.  All of us at Partner Up want to wish you a very happy new year full of interesting things to ignite our brains and be our best possible selves.


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