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Coping With The Holidays Makes For High Stress

Coping with the holidays is requires so much organization, time management, and emotional control. Try these tips to deck the halls in peace!
Coping with the holidays is requires so much organization, time management, and emotional control. Try these tips to deck the halls in peace!Coping with the holidays is requires so much organization, time management, and emotional control. Try these tips to deck the halls in peace!Coping with the holidays is requires so much organization, time management, and emotional control. Try these tips to deck the halls in peace!

Coping With The Holidays is another trial we have to bear.

Coping with the holidays is another story when you have ADHD. They say the key to a successful holiday function is preparation; that must be on my other key ring. You know, the lost one. BTW, this post may contain affiliate links, I promise you’ll like the stuff I recommend. 🙂

Every year they fool me! Holidays always begin with so much promise. One minute you’re watching the commercials with the happy kids and bobbing your head to your favorite carols, the next you have torn the last of your edges out while you cry yourself to sleep. My holiday is considered a roaring success if I narrowly escape hanging myself in the lights, and don’t locate more than one “lost gift” from last year floating in the flotsam and jetsam. Coping with the holidays is a challenge for lots of people. This time of year can sometimes feel more like warding off impending doom than a celebration. Why?

Coping with the holidays is requires so much organization, time management, and emotional control. Try these tips to deck the halls in peace!
The ghost of Christmas Past . . .

Shiny things are calling me!

For starters, I’m too busy being excited and overstimulated. There’s shiny stuff! Shiny stuff EVERYWHERE!! All five senses are engaged: when you are busy tasting touching smelling looking and listening to everything at once, it’s easy to forget you were supposed to be home wrapping your own gifts three hours ago.

I can’t remember, therefore it doesn’t happen.

Additionally, there’s having to remember stuff. Organization and shit. I have procrastinated on my Christmas shopping so long that just the thought of a store makes me shudder. There are people to disappoint by the forgetting of the stuff. Just the thought of it all sends my anxiety through the roof! Pass the eggnog; no, just pass the rum. The whole bottle. That’s how I’ve been coping with the holidays for years, you caught me.

Talk to people???

Let’s not forget: socializing! My old friend (insert eye roll here). Some things improve with time, like wine, and comfy tees and cast iron pots. Socializing? Not so much. There are rooms full of people, struggling to find something to say, not being awkward? Monitoring how much time I’ve spent escaping into the world of my phone? Shoot me, please.

We do it for love

Of course, by now you’re asking yourself “why”. Why do we insist on this holiday madness? We do it for the people we love, of course. When you see the first child smile or listen to your grandmother launch into one of her famous stories, it’ll be worth it. Traditions, even nerve-wracking ones, are (sometimes) the comfy jeans of life. That’s how we’re coping with the holidays. Traditions keep us going, like touchstones we can look back on during the year when we wonder why we tolerate these people. They’re well worn, well-loved, and they always fit. Hang on, it’s almost over.

You CAN succeed in coping with the holidays

    • Find a place to escape – Remember, there is ALWAYS an escape route. Every time I get to a holiday gathering, the first thing I plot is my exit strategy. Aunt asking too many questions? Overstimulated from the loud people saying loud things. There is a room in the house where no one is. A room where you can take a few minutes to process, breathe and come out again. Do you know that room where everyone lays their coats? Oh, you know. Go find it, and hide.
    • Don’t entertain your toxic relatives – We could talk about not seeing toxic relatives at all, but that’s a whole different post. For now, if you know you’re going to be stuck in a room with your cousin who used to give you atomic wedgies, or your grandmother who asks intrusive questions, your nerves may be shot. Take some time in advance to mentally prepare for the onslaught: you already know what they’re going to ask, so prepare a response, and a follow-up response to shut them down.
    • Remember, it’s only once per year – If you don’t have to do something that often, you’ll find that it becomes just a little easier to tolerate. This holiday season is a speed bump you have to get over to get into the new year when everyone will go back to forgetting you exist unless they need something (see the previous statement on toxic relatives).
    • If you forget something, it is ok – Too often we forget that just like there are no perfect people, there are no perfect holidays. I know, I know. You want perfection. Instead, there will be cats knocking down ornaments. You want the children’s hair to stay perfect for your awesome Instagram shot. Take that pressure off of yourself. Expect something to go wrong, so it won’t be so painful when it happens.
    • Find the stuff you need to take along the day before you go – I cannot emphasize this enough: If you are traveling, the pressure of having to be on time will make you more forgetful than usual. Set a timer the night before, and use an hour to gather the things you need and put them in the car. . . if you have a family, do not let them near the car. . . they will take things out, and you will not have them. ADHD folks struggle with planning, but you have to get ahead of it. Read this post about learning to plan with ADHD, it might help.
    • Get a general gift for the person you forgot – Oh, you forgot them. Unfortunately, they won’t forget you, and you’ll be embarrassed unless you try this trick in advance. Sure, we want to live in a world where you remembered everything and you are perfect and you never ever make a mistake. Let’s get real! You have a neurological disorder that makes you forget/lose things. Buy a bottle of wine for an adult, and a great board game for a kid. Wrap them, put a name tag on them and leave the “to” blank until you need to fill it in. You’ll thank me later.

  • Have fun – The whole purpose of the holiday can be lost in a flurry of anxiety and stress. Take a deep breath, and remember that you’re here to have fun. Holidays aren’t about the gifts or the people who will annoy you, or your arrival time. Coping with the holidays becomes so much easier when you commit to having a good time, despite the crap that is bound to happen.

Holiday Stress and Transitions Talk With Inger Colzie:

I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Inger Colzie for a great talk about holiday stress and life transitions. We talked about self compassion, self-care, having realistic expectations of yourself, and more! You’ll definitely leave this talk with something new to chew on this holiday season.

Still struggling at coping with the holidays? I get it. Here are some more resources to help you get there:

I wish you a very Merry whatever it is that you celebrate. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people who you care for this season if you need extra support. Coping with the holidays IS stressful, but you can make it. Let me know your favorite tip for holiday stress-busting in the comments! May your days be less anxious, may you not lose your lists, tape, or scissors.

Until next time,


P. S. If you find yourself in need of a laugh, watch this video of Patti Labelle singing my favorite Christmas Carol at the White House. Spoiler alert: somebody messed up, BAD!

25 thoughts on “Coping With The Holidays Makes For High Stress

  1. I don’t even have the awkward part. (Well, I DO but I don’t seem to notice it until afterwards.) But I use SO MUCH ENERGY smiling and socializing that I just want to curl up in a hole for weeks to recover. It’s just too much. Too. Much.

    1. Dawn, you know I’ve been over it since Thanksgiving. I’m about to give up the ghost.

  2. I hope things work out for the best for your holiday festivities. If not, I hope you can laugh about it and create great memories with your family.

    1. There isn’t any shortage of laughs, Steve! Thank you for reading!

  3. I find your rawness refreshing. Thank you for posting!

    1. Thank you for reading! I try to always be transparent because we are all struggling with something. Playing safe doesn’t help any of us.

  4. I totally get you! Got yelled at for wrapping presents when family wanted to take pictures…

    1. OMG I ALWAYS get yelled at! We’re on the same train.

  5. I hear you and I relate 100%
    I hope you had a great time in the end and I’m super impressed you even found time to post despite all the business and overstimulation.

    1. Girl! Somehow I made it through.

  6. I enjoyed reading this and certainly related to some of it 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate you!

    2. I appreciate you reading it. The holidays kick my butt!

  7. This was a lovely article Renee. Beautiful ending.

    1. Awww Tom, thank you!

  8. Great advice and not just for those with ADHD! I saw a pillow in a store the other day that said, “I’ll be home for Christmas and in therapy by New Years.” Maybe if we follow this advice we can get through easier!

    1. I am so glad it was helpful to you! And I’ll tell you, if I make it through the season without another stint in therapy, I’ll feel like I came pretty close to succeeding.

  9. This is my new favorite ADHD blog, thank you for the PRACTICAL solutions! So many times I read advice but don’t know how to act on it. Gonna order my extra gifts tonight..

    1. Gayle I’m so glad that we are your new favorite!!! What extra gifts did you decide on? Come follow us on FB and keep in touch!

  10. The best place to go to is THE bathroom!! The wrapping of kids gifts and keeping them entertained for two week break! Great article.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! There are,
    nevertheless, some disadvantages in regards to practice. When I was a college student, I wondered just how
    one needs to tackle this matter but I would always come across some
    funny replies: go google it or ask a friend. What if my friends do not have sufficient knowledge or experience to help me?

    What if I googled it several times and couldn’t find the
    solution? That is when posts such as this one can provide appropriate advice
    on the matter.

    1. I’m very glad the post helped you !

  12. Sound so Good! I will subscribe to this writer and his potential books.

    1. I’m glad it was helpful to you

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