Holiday Hell or How to Survive the Holidays with ADHD

This is my face when I know that we are heading into the holidays. I am happy but cautious. I know that for me and folks like me the normal everyday distractions that cause us to wander off into our own little world multiply like rabbits gone wild.


 Many Christmas mornings I have felt like this, off center and out of focus,
 after having indulged in things like this,


and this.


I love the holidays, but I am easily overwhelmed by the lights, shiny objects, people, and activities that go with the holidays. Parties, gift buying, gift wrapping, kids off from school, travel, big family dinners, New Years celebrations are great and horrible at the same time. I loose track of everything, my routines are interrupted, and I get very little done. For many years it would take me until February to get back to center. Here are my top ten survival strategies to make the holidays less overwhelming

1. Plan some time each day to just sit. Even if it is just ten minutes, set a timer and forget about everything, let your brain and adrenal glands rest.
2. Limit or no alcohol.  I know it sounds harsh, and I know it is the season to be merry, but too much merry makes for a rough day the next day. ADHD folks often have issues with substance abuse, and the holidays make it so easy to over indulge. We like to quiet the noise in our heads with libations. Be honest with yourself about this.
3. SET A BUDGET for gifts, entertaining, and decorations. Really. Managing money is tough for folks with ADHD.  Impulsive spending feels good, and combined with the distractions of the season can cause debt to balloon to epic proportions. Do it. You will be grateful when you are not still paying for the holidays in July of 2018
4. Say No. You can do it. Say NO to those events, and situations that have caused you stress in the past. This will be impossible if it involves family. In family situations, if your really feel that you have to participate, set time limits. If you know that certain family members become total nut-cakes, and act out after a few glasses of eggnog, leave before it happens.  If this is you, see tip #2. Remember, their drama does not have to be your drama.
5. As hard as it is, keep up with your exercise routine. Be creative if you are traveling. Go for a walk, ride your bike, heck even shoveling snow is great exercise.  For folks with ADHD, some sort of movement each day is essential self care.
6. Eat well. Have some holiday treats but beware of the stress-eat sugar-max out my caffeine-screw it because it is the holidays trap. Loading your body with stimulants only exacerbates your impulsiveness and makes you do crazy things.
7. Avoid busy shopping times. I pretty much stay away from big box and chain retail stores from November until the middle of January. I shop local. Small stores are great, less overwhelming and have fewer choices. I also like supporting my neighbors and small businesses.
8. Go back and read this post about getting better sleep .  Really.
9. If other family members have ADHD remember that they are struggling too. Help your kids by modeling coping skills for sensory overload and situational overwhelm. Remind them that they can take breaks when ever they need to calm down. Help them moderate their sugar intake. Be aware that the stress of the holidays can make kids with no issues act out, ADD/ADHD just stacks the deck.
10. Enjoy yourself. Do what you need to do for your own self-care and your family’s well-being. If folks judge you for that, that is their problem, don’t let it be yours.

I hope these tips help.

My daughter trying to make the Grinch feel better.

My smirk, perpetuated by my son…

Ten Tips for Improving Your Sleep–No Really

This is how I imagine most of us would like to sleep, tucked in, snuggled up, with no worries. For most of my life I have not slept well, which results in afternoon episodes like this

  and morning face that looks like this

until I have had my caffeinated beverage of choice.

I worked night-shift for years, figuring if I wasn’t sleeping I might as well make some money while I was awake.  As a day sleeper, I developed an unnatural hatred of leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and weed-whackers during that time. I still have periods of insomnia, that combined with my hyperactivity have resulted in re-upholstered chairs, stripped wall-paper, and thousands of written words (NANOWRIMO I am talking about you) in the middle of the night.

Sleep really does make a difference.  Some studies have suggested that going without sleep affects reaction times and judgement as much drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. Even though marijuana is now being used to treat different sleep disorders and lack of sleep, medical marijuana (such as the quality of cannabis you’re able to find if you were to Read more about this online Canadian dispensary for example) has many medical properties that can be benefitted from, should it be consumed correctly under a medical professionals guidance. Lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain, poor immune response and depression. Twenty-four hour access to the Internet, unlimited streaming movies and television are often blamed for sleep disorders.
As someone who had issues with sleeping well before the advent of cable television, WI-FI, and smart phones I don’t think that simply turning off your devices is the answer. Individuals with ADD/ADHD often have sleep issues related to hyper-focusing on a project, anxiety, hyperactivity, disorganization, and over-commitment,

The following is a list of things that I have complied that have helped me sleep better. I don’t address the sleep issues that come from raising children, because I don’t have  a clue how to address them. If you have any answers or suggestions, please share them!

I hope these suggestions help you to sleep better, and as always do the best you can.

  1. Create a routine before bed. It works for kids because it sends signals that it is time to wind down and go to sleep. A cup of tea or beverage of choice can help.
  2. Avoid screens about two hours before bed. Back lit screens stimulate your brain, and the soap opera that is Facebook and social media can keep you awake. Although cute pictures of babies and pets may make for happy dreams, trying to sleep after reading a political rant, a social outrage piece, or some terrible news before bed stimulates your brain in a negative way.
  3. Make your bedroom as dark as it can be, and make it a tech free zone. No computers, no TV, and if your cell/smart phone is your house phone locate it so that you have to get out of bed to get to it, do not put it on your bedside table.
  4. Prepare for the next day. Get your clothes out, make the lunches, make a list of what needs to be done. Empty your brain of all tasks that you know you need to do and haven’t done. This prevents the wake up at midnight, “Oh damn, I forgot I need to…” syndrome that keeps you from going back to sleep.
  5. Limit caffeine. I know this sounds simple but finding out how late you can drink a caffeinated beverage and still sleep is vital. I know if I have anything with caffeine after twelve noon, I will be wired until one or two in the morning. Find out your threshold and deploy caffeine strategically.
  6. Take a warm bath or shower before bed. It works for kids and it can work for you too. If you want to get fancy try some lavender bubble bath or soap.
  7. Exercise. You know you should. Remember taking a walk around the block, gardening, and playing with your kids counts.
  8. Check in with yourself. Do you have aches and pains that keep you awake? Do you need a new mattress or pillow?If your bed is not comfortable you will not sleep.
  9. Are your animals keeping you up? I sleep better if my dogs are with me but some people don’t. Don’t be afraid of establishing new rules about who sleeps where, remember you are the boss, even if the cat doesn’t think so.
  10. Take a minute before you fall asleep to think of good things in your life, even if it takes you more than a minute, it is time well spent.
Bonus tip: If you are re-upholstering chairs in the middle of the night while your partner is sleeping, don’t use the staple gun.