The holidays are a time for joy, family (chosen or related), and unfortunately increased stress. For individuals with ADHD, that could also mean increased feelings of overload or overwhelm. If you or someone you love has ADHD, the holidays can also be a catalyst for overstimulation and stress. In this post, we will discuss how to create realistic holiday traditions that are enjoyable for everyone, especially individuals with ADHD.
Tips for Creating ADHD-friendly Holiday Traditions:
Keep it simple. Avoiding as best as possible elaborate activities or decorations can help reduce stress. Opting for sensory-friendly crafts like playdough ornaments or making paper snowflakes are simple with little to no cleanup.
Get everyone involved. Everyone can get involved in choosing an activity. Whether it's baking cookies, playing games, or looking at holiday lights, involving others can help in reducing decision fatigue.
Embrace movement. Active play or outdoor adventures are best. A simple walk around the block can do wonders for settling your mind and boosting your energy.
Set a 'Loose' Schedule. Creating a list of events or activities without any expectations that could get done in a day. Keeping some semblance of your routine can help minimize last-minute chaos and feelings of overwhelm. Especially during the holidays, expecting things to not go to plan can decrease feelings of frustration
Focus on the experience, not the outcome. The holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not achieving perfection. Letting go of the pressure to have the "perfect" celebration can decrease feelings of anxiety related to these high expectations.
ADHD-friendly Holiday Tradition Ideas
It is always fun to start or continue new holiday traditions. All of these ideas can be done with family or friends, or even by yourself if you are looking for some solo time.
Festive scavenger hunt: Hide small gifts or clues around the house or yard and let everyone work together to find them. Gifts can include stress balls, pop-its, or even small puzzles.
Holiday movie marathon: Pick out a few favorite holiday movies and get snacks for a cozy night in.
Gingerbread house decorating party. Turn on your favorite playlist and hold a friendly competition of "Most Creative Gingerbread House." Enjoy a buffet of candy, frosting, sprinkles, graham crackers and good company. The sillier the Gingerbread house, the better.
Volunteering: Giving back to your community by volunteering at a local soup kitchen or animal shelter. Spending time together while helping others can be a fantastic low effort / high impact holiday tradition.
Most importantly, knowing you are not alone. Seeking support during the holiday season may be the most important tradition to implement to effectively reduce stress. Talking with friends, trusted family, or even seeking support with therapy. If you are interested in finding more information on ADHD focused individual therapy, we offer free phone consultations so we can match you with the best ADHD therapist possible.
Bonus Tips to Manage the Holidays with ADHD
Use timers and visual aids. Setting timers for activities to help with time management, and use visual schedules to provide structure.
Offer fidget toys and sensory breaks. Fidget toys and time to yourself can help with anxiety. Taking breaks for movement can also help prevent feelings of overwhelm.
Be mindful of food sensitivities. Some people with ADHD have food sensitivities or allergies. Choose snacks and meals that everyone can enjoy.
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Marie Clyne is a licensed social worker and provider at Catalyss Counseling. Her focus centers around adults struggling with Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD. Marie's passion lies in getting to know you, who you want to be, and working together to help translate those goals into reality. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.