Thriving Through the Holidays – Celebrating Christmas with ADHD

When you read about the holiday season it always seems to be such a magical time filled with joy, gifts, and quality time with loved ones. For others at least. But would anyone agree that for some of us there’s also potential for some serious ADHD-induced chaos? From navigating social gatherings with unspoken rules or silent agreements to managing overwhelming sensory overload of lights, sounds and strange foods. Not sure how you manage the miracles of Christmas, but here are some tips and tricks from us at Team Letterlife. And please share your best lifehacks for not just surviving but perhaps also thriving during the holiday season with ADHD!

Embrace the Power of Planning:

Struggling with a chaotic brain people with ADHD often benefit from structure and routine. No wonder that the holiday season, disrupting our regular schedules, can lead to increased stress. Try to prevent loss of control and combat the holiday season by embracing the power of planning. Make a special section in your calendar for the holidays in advance. Perhaps you give these days and weeks a special color code months in advance, so you know that they are closing on you. Make sure to enter everything from detailing events, tasks, and deadlines. Break down larger events or tasks into smaller, manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Sensory-Friendly Celebrations:

If you, as so many with ADHD have quite a “generous brain filter”, letting every stimulus, regardless of how irrelevant it is, into your brain for processing, Christmas festivities can be quite overwhelming. Whatever, well-meaning neurotypical tell you, us neurodivergents typically don’t habituate to incoming stimuli. In other words, we don’t get used to the fuss, as others tend to do. That’s why it might be better to adapt and consider creating a more sensory-friendly celebration. Perhaps you can ask your family and friends if they would agree to soften the lighting a bit, play calmer music that you recognize, not push you or your neurodivergent child to try out all the strange foods on the Christmas table? Perhaps you want to have designated quiet space in your house for everyone that needs to take a break from the joys and sensory overload of Christmas? By communicating your needs to family and friends, you make sure they don’t take it personal if you need to check out and recharge your social batteries once in a while. 

Manage Impulsivity:

Stressed out about what Christmas gifts to buy? Having a tendency to overdo it and shop till both you and your bank account drop? Well, you’re in good ADHD-company! The holiday season brings an abundance of tempting treats and impulsive spending opportunities. Is it possible to change things just slightly this year? Perhaps, try to practice some easy mindfulness exercises to manage impulsivity. Help yourself to make a list of the gifts you want to buy and create a budget for the gift-giving to help curb overspending.Try to, before every new purchase, take one second to pause by breathing in and out while you ask yourself what the long-term benefits and consequences of this action will mean. 

Delegate, Seek Support and Focus on Self-Care:

Christmas is not a competition, and you don’t have to do it all alone. In good time before the holidays, think about what things in your traditions comes natural for you and what drains you. Discuss with your family and friends and share the responsibilities. If you are open with your needs and challenges, it’s easier for others to offer support and your difficulties doesn’t risk being misunderstood as unwillingness or resistance. Whether it’s planning a holiday meal or decorating the house, collaboration can make the season more enjoyable for everyone. And don’t forget, in the middle of all the chaos, to prioritize self-care to maintain mental well-being. Schedule breaks, practice mindfulness, and ensure you’re getting enough rest. Taking care of yourself allows you to better engage in the festivities with a positive mindset.

Create ADHD-Friendly Traditions:

Use your imagination and craft traditions that cater to your ADHD strengths can make the holiday season more enjoyable. If you fear long dinner seating’s maybe consider more interactive activities when you gather with family and friends? Perhaps cooking the Christmas food together or plan some holiday game that engage both focus and creativity. There is nothing to say that your own personalized traditions can’t become as cherished moments for you and your loved ones as the more traditional ones we just accept because it’s the way it’s always been.

So, with that, all of us from Team Letterlife would like to wish you an ADHD-proof Christmas, allowing you to embrace your strengths, communicate your needs, and focus on creating great memories with the people that truly matter in your life.

Become a Beta User

We are developing Letterlife in collaboration with expert patients, clinics, and researchers. Become a beta user and shape the future of Letterlife.

Latest posts
  • Blog

Blog User Story from the founder of the Swedish Instagram account @adhdbikt

I am a woman about to turn 36, living with my partner for 10 years and our two daughters, a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old baby. I did well in school, had good grades in both elementary and high school and pursued further studies in college. I knew what I wanted and that I needed good […]

Movement is important for us living with ADHD
  • Blog

On the Power of Movement

I’m doing some research for a lecture I’m going to give on ADHD and exercise, and I stumbled upon some studies that throw me back thirty years in time. Back to middle school and high school. What I read makes me proud of the girl I once was and how she turned an impossible situation […]

Overthinking is common with ADHD, but there are ways to improve.
  • Blog

Unhook Yourself from Overthinking!

Overthinking is a common problem for ADHD and AuDHD women. And it causes so much suffering when we get caught up in it. In this blog, we introduce some alternative ways of improving our mental flexibility by challenging the ADHD brain’s fear of chaos. Are you one of us who can easily turn everyday decisions […]