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Holiday Abundance and ADHD

The warm glow of a winter house Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Christmas is a time of abundance. This may be especially true for those of us with ADHD.

Yes, there is more chocolate (always a good thing). But there’s also more impulsivity and more serious consequences for the future. Unless you want a diet, an overdrawn bank account, and emotional burnout in your post-holiday future, heightened impulsivity will not serve you well at this time.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or nothing at all: there’s more.

More of being overwhelmed. More distraction. More emotional stress. More disorganization, more time management challenges, more opportunities for social faux pas.

What we do need more of

So how do we avoid getting more of the ADHD “gifts” that we’d rather return? When asking for gifts this year, just remember that “S” does not just stand for “Santa:” it’s also for simplicity, support, supplements, serenity, and surrender: five things we do need more of.


‘Tis the season to triage. With the potential to be quickly overwhelmed, now’s the time to stay focused on mission-critical targets. So, simplify. If you can cut things off the list, you’ll simplify the task of prioritizing before you even begin.

Make a list of things you can forgo until after the holidays. Does the dog need to be groomed? Consider letting Scruffy live up to his name over the holidays, taking one less time- and resource-consuming task off your list.

Do you really need to throw a dinner party for your family or 400 of your closest friends? Yes? If so, how about a potluck this year instead of a seven-course festive feast?

Before diving into the holiday havoc, try coming up with a list of at least 10 things you can either simplify, postpone, or strike off the to-do list altogether. Ready? Go!


The last thing we want to do is ask for help.

Do it! Now, more than ever, it’s time to call in favors, delegate, and let go of control-freak tendencies.

With perfectionism rampant amongst us, I know it’s difficult to let go of the reins. Delegate, then try walking out of the room or leave the house when a family member is baking the holiday shortbread – their own way. Hovering over them giving instructions or wiping up the counter while they’re trying to work will not decrease your stress or constitute full-fledged “delegation,” so buzz off and leave them to their own devices.

And don’t forget to be grateful for, not judgmental of the results.


During the holiday season, you may want to talk to your doctor to make sure your meds are optimized, and try supplementing your regular ADHD treatment with Omega-3 fish oils, B vitamins, zinc, Iron and magnesium. I’m no dietition, but some ADHD experts (Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction among them) do recommend dietary changes and supplements to help manage ADHD. To learn more about what changes might be beneficial, check out Ten Foods to Boost Your ADHD Brain.


Do you meditate? Perhaps now is not the time to start, but consider the stress-relief strategies you already use. Now consider doubling up on those.

Yoga, a walk in the woods with (or without) Scruffy, a lavender bubble-bath, a timeout with a friend or a favorite (non-stressful) movie – whatever! Schedule it into your planner. (I hope the words “schedule” and “planner” didn’t stress you out. I discovered these after my ADHD diagnosis, and by gosh, they’re handy.)

When you take an item off your “to-do” list (see “Simplify” above), plug in one of these serenity-inducing activities. Adding this activity will take time, yes, but chances are it will be time well spent and might make your other tasks go more smoothly.


Finally, keep top of mind that this too shall pass. No matter how hard you try, or even if you give up; this holiday season will soon be over. There, at least, is something to hold on to!

What are your holiday coping strategies? Please share. Helpful options are also something we all need more of.


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Holiday Abundance and ADHD

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2014). Holiday Abundance and ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 8 Dec 2014
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