Hi, I’m Emma! I’m a part time blogger, full time kindle girl. I’m an aspiring graphic designer  and have lived with an ADHD diagnosis for 15 years. I have a cat named Barbie and a desire to help the world, one blog post at a time.

Holidays can be a time of joy and excitement, but for those of us with ADHD, it can also be a time of intense stress and overwhelm. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, and impulsivity. The good news is that there are strategies we can use to manage the stress and enjoy the holidays.

I would often watch those sappy Hallmark movies, you know, the cringey-but-oh-so-good movies with the perfect Christmas town, the sweet townspeople, and the girl who could do it all.The Hallmark Girl had everything figured out - she baked delicious sugar cookies, knit adorable sweaters for her friends, happily traveled to visit her family… she even got the holiday ham juuuuust right.

As I binged Hallmark movie after Hallmark movie, I found myself falling into the trap of expecting the perfect, picture-perfect holiday. I was so caught up in the fantasy of tinsel-draped trees and snow-covered houses that I forgot that real life doesn't come with a script. I let the cozy comfort of my couch become a prison that kept me from actually living and connecting with my friends. I was caught in a holiday trance, and it was time to snap out of it.

Even if you've got your ADHD under control for most of the year, the holiday season can throw you off balance. But don't worry, there are ways to make the holidays less stressful and more fun for everyone. Here’s some things that helped me refocus on myself.

Handling Holiday Parties

The holidays can be particularly stressful for many of us. Seeing family can be overwhelming, especially in large gatherings with lots of noise and activity. Here’s the good news: you can still enjoy quality time with family while respecting your personal boundaries. To help myself manage the anxiety that comes with seeing old friends or perhaps somewhat stressful family members, I make sure to prepare responses for questions that may give me anxiety ahead of time. I also ensure that I have plenty of opportunities during these parties to step away for a moment to calm myself and regroup mentally - I am an introvert at heart and the quiet helps me regulate my nervous system by giving me a chance to center myself.

I want to also encourage setting boundaries ahead of time. Decide beforehand how long you want to stay, who you’d like to talk to, and what topics you generally would like to avoid. Another thing that helps me is focusing on the good: you never know when a moment becomes a memory.  By stopping to appreciate the laughter and smiles of the moment I find myself able to move past the stress of the moment and sit in a space of gratitude for the time spent with my loved ones.

Spending Time with Yourself

Solo holidays may not look like the picturesque scenes in holiday movies, but they can be just as meaningful and memorable. It's a chance to focus on yourself, practice self-care, and reflect on the year. You can cozy up with a good book, cook a festive meal, or take a peaceful winter walk. And while it may not be the same as being with loved ones, it can be a chance to appreciate the peace and quiet of your own company.

This is a great time to get to know yourself a little better through reflection and self discovery. Take the opportunity to explore what makes you happy, and practice self compassion. Be kind to yourself through your actions and thoughts - reflect on all the things that went right this year, and areas you could improve on for next year. With that in mind set intentions for 2024 - plan out a goal or aspirational theme for the year. I personally prefer setting a theme of intentions for the year ahead. For example, this year I have decided I will focus on my “health” for the year coming. I want to get my cardio fitness up and work on my sleep schedule. By narrowing my focus on a single topic rather than a myriad of resolutions, I can really begin mapping out steps towards achieving that goal - more on this, later!

So Much To Do, So Little Time

In the Hallmark movie world, there's this expectation that the holidays are a time when you can do it all - decorate the house, bake cookies, buy gifts, attend every party, and look flawless while doing it. But in reality, trying to do everything can be a recipe for burnout and stress. That's why it's important to focus on what really matters to you and prioritize accordingly. It's okay to say 'no' to some things and prioritize self-care, so that you can truly enjoy the holidays.

It’s okay to not feel festive. Embracing a less festive holiday season can actually be a form of self-care. By taking the pressure off to be merry and bright, you can relax and focus on what truly matters to you.

Take time for activities that bring you joy, like reading, journaling, or listening to music. Maybe baking cookies doesn’t spark the sense of joy in your heart like you’ve seen in those movies - that’s okay! I’ve found that I actually love making soups during the cold season as a form of self love. On the days that it’s hard to motivate myself to eat a full meal, I pull out one of my frozen soups and pop that on the stove.

Take breaks from holiday activities to relax and recharge. You don’t always have to say yes to every single holiday party that comes, and you don’t need to do everything all at once. Take a break and enjoy the slow down! This is your winter break and you should feel free to do whatever you’d like with it - even if that means staying home to get cozy on the couch. If seeing family at the holiday party will bring you more stress than peace, I encourage you to consider staying home instead and watching movies. Your peace is your priority.

In conclusion, it's important to remember that the holidays don't have to be a frenzy of festivities. Remember that the holidays are ultimately about what brings us joy and peace. It's not about being the life of the party, but about finding moments of contentment and gratitude amidst the hustle and bustle. So, give yourself permission to do what feels right for you, and have a happy and healthy holiday season.