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Holiday Balancing Act

by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.

Compared to other times of the year, during the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, people have less time and more stress, get less sleep and exercise, consume more sugar and fats, drink more alcohol, have more tasks and responsibilities, are more worried about money, and have less relaxed time to spend with friends, family and themselves.

Guess how that makes people feel? This can be a very taxing time for anyone, and it can knock those of us with AD/HD completely off balance due to the increased social and organizational demands.

The "Shoulds"
Part of what gets us out of balance, overwhelmed, frazzled, exhausted, especially at this holiday season is our expectations. Our perceptions and thoughts actually contribute to much of our own unhappiness or feelings of stress. For example:

bake 4 dozen cookies

1. Should have baked more
2. Can't bake at all

1. Guilty, unhappy
2. Excited, elated

Examine your expectations. What are all of your "shoulds" regarding this holiday season? Are they realistic and obtainable? If not, consider changing your "shoulds" to "I would prefer," or "it would be nice if," or even "maybe next year."

Would you like to place more emphasis on the religious significance of the holiday season? Perhaps attending a special religious service, or serving a holiday dinner can fulfill that value. If you'd like to rekindle to warmth and joy of the seasons, perhaps spending time with family and friends, enjoying the festive lights and decorations and giving gifts to as a sign of affection and thoughtfulness are efforts to focus on.

Decide also what is it that you would NOT like to do. Renegotiate, delegate or hire someone else and even letting go of the "shoulds" are possible strategies. How would the holiday season change for you if you did not do these activities?

More than any other time of the year, make time to take care of yourself. Schedule time each day for self care. A car doesn't run without gas and neither will you. Some possible recharge strategies include making time to: go for walks, feed the birds, take hot baths, meditation, pray, visit close friends, exercise, massage, take naps, spend time alone with you children or spouse.

If you use medication, remember to also plan to use your medication to cover you for the times needed. Your physician can help you. This is also a great time to use a coach or a therapist to help you develop a strategy and assist you in staying on course for creating the holiday season you desire.

Taking Charge with a Holiday Plan

Ask yourself the right questions to create a plan for you to have a successful holiday season.

It is important to me to create the following holiday experience:

__________________________________________ __________________________________________

My first goal to make the holiday season manageable is to:

__________________________________________ __________________________________________

The steps to put this plan into action are:

__________________________________________ __________________________________________

My second goal to make the holiday season manageable is to:

__________________________________________ __________________________________________

The steps to put this plan into action are:

__________________________________________ __________________________________________

Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is a psychologist and coach in private practice in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine 2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

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