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Now Entering ADHDecember

December is a fun month, or a scary month, depending on how you look at it.

On the fun side: time with family, holiday rituals, and the turning of a new year full of new possibilities.

On the scary side: time with family, holiday rituals, and the turning of a new year full of new possibilities.

HolidaysI’ve always liked the idea of the holidays, coming together to create an atmosphere of festivity and celebration at the darkest time of year. And in general, I like the holidays not just in theory but in practice too.

That said, December is a month that presents all sorts of opportunities for people with ADHD to run up against feelings of inadequacy about their organization skills and their ability to live up to the expectations of the holiday season.

There’s shopping for gifts, which for people with ADHD often turns into a last-minute dash. There’s navigating potentially complex family gatherings, with all the social and emotional self-control that entails.

There are also plenty of opportunities to overcommit to things, or to work yourself too hard trying to create a festive holiday season for others. This is especially true if you’re hosting some type of holiday celebration or if you’re a parent.

And to cap it all off, you get to finish out December by reflecting on your shortcomings and making resolutions for how to become a more conscientious person that you know deep down you’ll end up failing to keep, just like you always do.

OK, I need to take a deep breath after writing all that. And step back.

It sounds obvious, but sometimes I forget it: when you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pause, zoom out, and look at what really matters. In the case of the holidays, I think that means circling back to the idea that at the darkest time of year, we have the ability to step out of our routines and do something that brings us joy – with our family, our friends, or by deciding to take some time for ourselves if that’s what we need.

When it comes to all the other stuff, there’s an opportunity to minimize. There’s no need to plan an extravagant holiday celebration if the stress of doing so takes away from your ability to enjoy precious time with our loved ones. There’s also no need to commit to spending time with people you don’t want to be part of your holiday season. And there’s certainly no need to make New Year’s resolutions.

For those with ADHD, the holidays can start to feel like an obstacle course of logistical and/or emotional challenges. I think the trick is to remember that the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy the positive things we have in our lives – and then to figure out what that means for us practically, even if it doesn’t look the way the holidays are “supposed” to.

Image: Flickr/DaPuglet

Now Entering ADHDecember

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). Now Entering ADHDecember. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 12, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Dec 2018
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