Manage the Holidays with ADHD

If you’re anything like me, you anticipate the holidays like a kid promised a puppy for Christmas. Oh, wait, that is literally me this year. (See my Brussels Griffon puppies, Gulliver and Huckleberry, at the end of this post!)

Preparing for the holidays can be rough, between picking presents, choosing which parties to go to, and managing your budget, but there are ways to make it easier. For the attention deficit soul in all of us, here’s a “How to Master the Holidays” list:

Holiday Spirit
First and foremost, get into the holiday spirit! If you live in a city like I do, the crowds will frustrate you, obligations will stress you out, but if you bring patience and a dash of cheer to every struggle, you'll make it through alright. So how to do you get in the spirit if this season prompts you to say "Bah Humbug"? I'm a big fan of holiday movies. Just last Saturday, I was at Drybar, a blow dry bar, when Elf came on. Talk about bringing a childish sense of humor to adulthood. Another option is to attend local holiday events; tree/menorah lightnings, craft markets (like ours in Bryant Park and Grand Central Station), seasonal plays/performances/concerts, ice-skating, cocoa tastings. Get a group together and make these into social adventures, or bring those friends home and, if you're of age, brew up some cider and mulled wine. Sometimes, the best way to get into the holiday spirit is to relax with those closest to you.
The story of my life this month. Whether you’re a social butterfly or pay of a large family, there are always too many events to attend. This is where our attention-deficit can get the best of us. At first, I'll look at a seven-day line-up of gatherings and think, “Welp. Let’s see how many days I can get through.” On second glance, if I trust my own holiday rules, the best way to approach such a week is by picking and choosing.

If I have to narrow it down, I look at the gatherings of specific social or family groups and cut down the duplicates. If I see my college friends on Friday, I’ll give Saturday to my New York friends, and Sunday to my family. If you’ve been reading this blog, you also know how important rest and time for yourself is. We wouldn’t want to find a pack of honey badgers gnawing on your bubby's menorah. If you can manage it, take a day or afternoon between gatherings. It’ll help you recharge for the day/night ahead.

Start early and plan through the year. When it comes to close friends and family, I always keep an eye out for presents they might enjoy. That way, when birthdays and holidays come up, I already know of a selection of gifts they will like.

My mom is notorious for buying gifts in June that she’ll gift in December. She’s also notorious for telling us that the gifts been in her closet for six months and how much of a bargain it was. Leave it to the Wilsons to be completely transparent. If you’re at a loss as to what to get someone, I’m inclined to go for “an experience” rather than a physical gift. Not only will it give you something to look forward two, you’ll also make a memory from the gift as well. If you’re on a budget, sites like Bloomspot, LivingSocial, Groupon, and Lifebooker offer local experiences at a discount.

Food Hangovers
Meals dominate my holiday schedule. While this is great for feeding our hyper metabolisms, you can overdo food as much as alcohol. Being of small stature, I know instantly when I’ve eaten too much pasta or pie or turkey or [fill in your favorite holiday dish]. But it’s difficult to set your limit when you have a full week of group meals.

Some tips? Eat small portions throughout the day to prepare for a big dinner. Drink lots of water so that you know when you’re full (and not just thirsty). As I mention in my Gluttony & the ADHD Diet post, focus on protein. It helps you gauge when you’re full. As with parties, pick and choose which dinners you can attend. You can always meet friends post-dinner if you want to keep your appetite and wallet in check.

True Hangovers
The best way to kick a holiday hangover is by preparing for it. In my last post, I mention vitamins that promote focus. Although not a full-proof cure, Vitamin B6 is proven to reduce the effects of drinking more than your limit. Before a night of holiday hopping, I’ll take one of these along with a hearty dinner. Drink lots of water throughout the night (yes, you’ll get ragged on for this) and in the morning, if you’re still not feeling great, go for a run or do some other type of exercise. If you overdid it, this may not sound like the best way to start your day, but it’s like pulling off a bandaid. Your body will start circulating again and you’ll sweat out those toxins.

Cash Flow
Look for coupons rather than sales. When I see a sale, my eyes light up like the Beagle Boys’ in Scrooge McDuck’s money vault. The thing about sales is, low prices dupe you into buying things that neither you nor your friends/family want. Check out sites like RetailMeNot.com or CouponCabin.com to shave a few dollars or a large percentage off your online orders.

I’m over wrapping paper. What a waste of trees and ink. A more economical (and environmentally friendly) way to bundle gifts is by using the newspaper’s “funny pages” or festive ads in magazines. If done right, your gifts will look colorful and crafty.

Work vs. Friends/Family
As a writer, I often feel this internal tug-of-war. You’re needed at your desk—as well as by your friends and family. The theme of these holiday tips is choice. What needs to get done before the holidays? What begs for your attention but isn’t exactly urgent? If work dominates your schedule, you may need to put in some late nights (or early mornings) before you can catch up with Aunt Bertha. Check out my post on Time Management Strategies for detailed techniques about managing your busy holiday schedules. You’ll have an easier holiday schedule if you use your “work time” to be productive, rather than to check your phone/email/social networking sites.
If all else fails, the holidays will soon be over and you’ll have all of January/February/March/April? to hibernate or work or play amid the extended winter we’re gearing up for. Good luck out there!

What’s your favorite part of the holidays? How to you manage your holiday schedules?