The festive season can be a stressful time of year for anyone.  But those living with ADHD can find it particularly hard. From feeling overwhelmed with so much to do and organise, the thought of dealing with the crowds, and the sitting around with family watching TV on Christmas Day.  It’s clear why many adults living with ADHD try to avoid it.

But Christmas is a time to celebrate and enjoy being with the people you love.  So, here are my top 12 tips to surviving Christmas with ADHD. 

What do you get everyone!?

Let’s not beat about the bush.  Take the guesswork out of buying presents by either giving money or asking people what they would like!  

Money gives them the flexibility to choose something for themselves and stops the worry for you.

But if you prefer to buy gifts over money or vouchers, just ask them what they would like.  Suggest using a wish list, either something like Amazon or simply handwriting a list. That way there is still an element of surprise of not knowing which item(s) you pick!

Job done!

Keep track of what you’re buying

It’s very easy to get carried away or even forget what you’ve brought.  Take the hassle away and use an app where you can keep track! I love Christmas Gift List.  It allows you to track your purchases, manage your budget, tick things off as you buy them, but it’s also password-protected so no one can take a sneaky peak before the big day! 

Avoid the hustle and bustle

I can’t think of anything worse than traipsing around the shops with crowds of people searching for presents or groceries at this time of year.  So beat the rush and order online! No crowds, no waiting in line, no distractions, no rushing about. Order online at your leisure at any time of the day you want!

Just remember… double-check delivery dates to make sure they’ll arrive in time!  The same goes with groceries. The slots around the big day fill up fast!

Wrap your presents in stages

Now that you’ve purchased presents, it’s time to get wrapping.  Believe me I know how much of a bore it can be wrapping present after present.  And that’s without distractions and interruptions to make your mind wander.  

Instead, do it in stages.  

5 minutes free?  Grab a present and wrap it up.

Do what you can in advance

Many ADHDers find getting themselves organised difficult and it can lead to anxiety.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed and then become distracted. It’s something I struggle with myself.  But it doesn’t mean that we can’t get ourselves ready.  

Precooking foods, having a tidy away of clutter, deciding on family activities for the day, what to watch on TV or maybe where you’ll go for the post-Christmas walk.  Make a list and anything that needs to be done before. Stick it up where it’s easy to see and mark things off as you go.

Give yourself extra time

Putting a plan in place is the easy part.  But putting it into action can cause dread and panic.  This is where you need to give yourself some extra time.  Being strict on timings of when things are going to happen adds to the build-up of stress.  Take the pressure off and give yourself extra time in the day to do things. If you get ahead of yourself, great.  But if you find something takes you off course, you’ve got the extra time to get yourself back on track!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You don’t have to do things on your own and there are always people willing to help.  So, don’t be afraid to ask. Whether it’s getting family and friends involved in the preparation for and on the day.  Or maybe getting a cleaner in to give your home a once over to take a little pressure off you. Ask for some help and spread the responsibility.

Take away the stress of Christmas dinner

Unless you’re super organised (who are we kidding?!) or love to cook, take away the hassle of Christmas dinner.  Why not try eating out for Christmas? Either booking up Christmas day at a restaurant or even holding the main event just before or after Christmas day?  You can relax knowing the food and drink is taken care of, whilst enjoying dinner with the people you love.

Keep it simple

If going out for Christmas dinner isn’t an option, why not stay home and keep things simple?!  The pressures for a full roast dinner with all the trimmings is one you could do without. Why not make your favourite family meal instead?  Or maybe opt for buffet-style menu instead of the traditional sit-down meal? It’s all about enjoying the day with loved ones so let’s go back to basics.

Be honest

It’s easy to become overwhelmed throughout the day when things are busy and feeling a little out of your comfort zone.  So remember to be honest with your friends and family. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a minute away – then say so.  Step outside for a breather or go somewhere that makes you feel calm. Take a breath before going back in.

Something to calm on the day

If you really can’t get away, then use your imagination.  Close your eyes, and recall a special place in nature, perhaps a holiday destination or calming local walk. Notice the colours, shapes, smells and sensations. Just a few moments doing this (in the bathroom if you need to!) can be enough to calm your mind.

And if it’s not necessarily a place but a ‘something’, use whatever it is instead to help you find your calm.  Some people find that drawing can take away feelings of anxiety and help them feel calm.

Or, why not check out my FREE 5-day Relaxation Challenge for some simple but effective techniques for when you need them!

Make time for you

It’s a lovely time of year to catch up with friends and family, but you also need to remember time for you.  Whether it’s having a relaxing bath with some music on, or maybe grabbing a take away watching your favourite movie, just make sure you don’t get forgotten!

If all else fails… there’s always the option to book a last-minute deal in the sun! 🙂

Christmas doesn’t have to lead to stress, anxiety and overwhelm.  It can be a joyous occasion where you get to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.  Just remember that planning every tiny last detail can lead to over planning and disappointment when things don’t go quite to plan.  Cut yourself some slack and enjoy the festivities.

I really hope that you’ve found this blog useful and has given you some ideas on how to make Christmas a little less stressful.  If you’ve enjoyed this and found it useful, why not download my free quick reference guide to surviving Christmas to print and keep.  

With thanks to the Facebook community members of both the Adult ADHD UK (AADD-UK) and Women with ADHD (UK and Ireland based) for their inspiration!