An ADHD Holiday Primer
This Monday is Victoria Day in Canada. Its origin is a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday and it occurs on the weekend prior to May 25. (Canada still has a British Queen, why I don’t know. Maybe we’re just too polite to point out to the Brits that we’re Canadian, but I’m just speculating).
In lieu of ousting the monarchy, we’ve created an alternative name for our holiday: the May 2-4 weekend, thus named both for the date, and after a 2-4 case of beer (hey, we’re poetic like that.)
With the first summer-ish holiday looming, and Canadians across the land opening their cottages for the first time in our short summer season, I thought this would be a good time to review some do’s and don’ts of holidaying with ADHD.
– Stop taking your meds or abandon your ADHD treatment. Holidays are social occasions, and rendering ourselves less than sociable might have us jumping in the lake. Not because we wanted a nice cool dip, but because someone told us to go jump in the lake.
– Forget that alcohol/ADHD can be a tricky combination: it can relax us and let us cut loose; on the other hand, our loose can be someone else’s obnoxious if our treatment-induced filters are suddenly removed. If you’re prone to impulsive blurting, alcohol can loosen your lips in a way you might regret later.
– Offer to be the navigator of a road trip if you’re directionally challenged. Do the driving and have someone else tell you where to go (this is the one time when that’s ok). Or, relax and let the driver find the way. Resist the temptation to give directions if you think you’re off track; that way, even if you are, it won’t be your fault.
– Forget to pack for changes in weather. This is much less organizationally challenging if you plan to stay at a nudist colony. In that case, the list is short: sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. And a hat. And maybe a fig leaf if you’re a first-timer or there’s a costume party. (What do nudists wear to costume parties, anyway?)
– Leave the house without completing a written checklist including: lights, oven, and stove turned off; doors locked; garbage out, etc.; include anything that you’ve worried about in the past that you’d left undone. This does not include your income taxes, finding a new career, or leaving your husband; all that will have to wait until you get back home.
– Make a list for passport, itinerary, tickets, etc. Check off each packed item before leaving. (Unlike your never-ending to-do list, these lists might be the only ones you ever actually complete. That in itself should be an incentive to use them.)
– Holiday with people you enjoy. If your trip includes sharing a cruise, bus, or tour with strangers, align yourself with people you find fun and interesting. Remember that people with ADHD actually can die from boredom.
– Choose a holiday that’s not going to push your most difficult buttons. For example, as an HSP and animal lover, you’ll never find me at the Calgary stampede or along a Spanish street during the running of the bulls. Take care of your sensitivities, and take a holiday from your holiday if you’re overwhelmed or overstimulated. Think of it as an adult time-out to recharge your batteries.
– This sounds counter-intuitive, but get enough sleep and eat properly. Even though it’s tempting to go full board while you’re on holidays, like alcohol, a lack of sleep can erode your ADHD treatment making you more irritable, disorganized, and making it more difficult to stick to a schedule. It would be a drag to tour Europe and miss the one chance you had to see a gallery because you didn’t arrive until closing time.
– Give yourself transition time when you get home. I like to spend the last two days of my holidays at home, settling into my daily routine and psyching myself up for the following workday.
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If you follow these tips, you’ll be less likely to need a vacation to recuperate after your holidays.
If you’ve got strategies you use to make your holidays less stressful and more successful, please share them with us in the comments.
Happy May 2-4 everyone! Cheers Queen Victoria!
Kessler, Z. (2013). An ADHD Holiday Primer. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2013/05/an-adhd-holiday-primer/