We are all shell-shocked. Well, everyone I know is. We’re frightened, worried, exhausted, and depressed.

If you’re like me, Thanksgiving was a real crap shoot- in more ways than one (I like the word crap here, because this entire year has been crap).

But more holidays are charging up behind and well…I’m just getting over being shell-shocked from Thanksgiving.

Having ADHD typically means having problems making decisions.

More than that, it’s about procrastinating, forgetting things, and, well…you know the rest.

Throw in COVID and we’re all more than weary. The rules have changed and many of us don’t do well with that; rules give us some consistency and allow us to not have to make as many decisions because the rules- to some degree- are already laid out for us. Plus, we have past traditions to fall back on: where the holiday dinner will be hosted (hopefully not yours if you have ADHD holiday freak-out like I have); guest lists (if you’re hosting), favorite dishes served, etc.

This year, of course, is different. And sad for those of us who will not be spending the holiday with all of our loved ones.

Thanksgiving was tough because we had to change our tradition, here at the Matlen residence. Without going into details, it was not easy to make certain decisions- decisions that would keep all of us safe from COVID.

And here we go again.

Terry’s 5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays with COVID + ADHD

Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or other ways you celebrate this time of year, try this:

1.Discuss first, with your family, what will change this year. Will you celebrate with those living under your roof, only? With other close family members in your “bubble” where everyone feels safe? With close friends? It’s important to start here, and the rule at our house is that the one with the most concerns and/or anxiety about COVID, chooses which plan to go with.

Special note from me:

This is the hardest part. Making the decision as to whether to go 100% safely or to take some risks. Please think this through carefully. More than likely, things will be far better next year once the vaccine is available, so ask yourself: can I give up one year of tradition for many more holidays down the road with everyone we love surrounded around the dinner table?

2.Remind yourself: most of you are already stressed out from this difficult COVID year. So take a step back and make things easier on yourself.

We move on to another big question:

Food. Oh yea- food! Traditionally, this has caused tremendous stress for many of us because it usually entails a lot of planning, prep, cooking, and cleanup. MIS (Make it Simple) would be my advice. If you’re cooking, go with shortcuts or simplicity. Maybe things that are easier to prepare. Or if you’re like me, consider carrying in foods already cooked and ready.

3.Decorations/holiday cards. Some of you may have already put up your holiday lights, tree, decorations and such, right after Thanksgiving. Bonus points to you! But for many, that  might still be a painful thought slamming through your poor brain- again, more overwhelm. I’m here to offer you something: a pass. If it just feels like too much, let it GO.

One year of fewer lights, a smaller tree, no holiday cards, etc., will not destroy you. You need your energy. You might even put on your creative thinking cap and come up with a new tradition for this year that is fun but less work.

If you have some ideas to share about that, please do so in the comment section, below.

4.Shop for gifts online. Avoid stores (they are not COVID *or* ADHD friendly). I’ve chosen a bunch of gifts you may like that you can purchase at Amazon.

5.Do not sweat it. Go with it. Find ways to enjoy it. If you’re used to a party of 40 and now you have four, Zoom with other family or friends. It might help to organize the chat ahead of time, i.e have each person state one tip they can share that has made it easier on them this year.  Share personal and family updates- let this be your live holiday letter! Play games (I know of some who are able to keep up with their weekly card games online!). Put on a little skit. Recite poems. Sing songs together. The options are endless.


Watch a special holiday movie you’ve enjoyed in the past. It may have a whole different meaning for you this year, especially as it relates to being grateful for what you do have.

Write a *real* letter to a loved one you can’t visit, i.e elderly folks who are unable to receive visitors. Or send cards to residents who have no family to connect with.

Look through your photo albums. This is a way to feel connected to loved ones.

Make a special dessert.

Do something daring, like having an “un-Christmas* – fun sandwiches, pizza, or something completely different and unique.

Need a bit of humor? Read a past article about me, Martha Stewart, and the holidays.

And….Happy Chanukah! Today is the first night! Time for me to pull out our Menorah and hope that I still have candles from last year.

Happy Holidays!

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