It may be only June, but soon it will be August. Have you started planning your summer vacation? My guess is…no. Why? Because we have ADHD and planning is generally not an area of strength. Maybe it’s too overwhelming to even think about. If that sounds like you, read on!
Adults with ADHD have a notoriously difficult time dealing with transitions, even good ones. Going on vacation means switching out of work mode to days of nonstructured, free time. At work, you typically know what’s expected of you, and at home, you and your partner keep the whole family on schedule and manage all the details of daily life. When you’re on vacation, you’re still to trying to “manage”—but without the routine—and the change can be unnerving. What time should you wake up? When do you eat lunch? What do you do with all your free time? Read? Hike? Swim? Your hyperactive brain is searching, but it no longer has a road map to guide you.
Your ADHD brain needs to focus on something. It craves stimulation. If you’re an inattentive type, you may go more inward, but you still need something to focus on outwardly, like writing, painting or some other quiet activity. If it doesn’t find some sort of focus, it can succumb to negative thinking, such as ruminating, worrying, or obsessing.
Then just as you’ve settled into vacation bliss, it’s time to transition back to work and home, thereby stirring up the anxiety pot again. It seems that you just can’t win. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help make your transition into summer go more smoothly.
8 Tips for Transitioning into Summer Vacation
1. Be sure your vacation matches your temperament. If you are drawn to excitement, go for high-adrenaline activities. If you crave solitude and tranquility, consider peaceful surroundings with quiet activities. Try to balance your active time versus kick-back time.
2. If possible, plan ahead so that you don’t have a massive heap of work waiting for you when you return to work. This might mean taking on a bit more work before heading off on vacation.
3. Remember that though you’ve left your home and work behind, you’re still traveling with your ADHD brain. You need to take into account that change can be difficult. Few adults with ADHD will admit that taking vacations can sometimes cause more stress than staying at home: There’s the planning, packing, traveling, settling in… all things that may be difficult. There’s the expectation that you are going on vacation to have fun, so when you find yourself struggling to switch out of work mode into vacation mode, don’t beat yourself up. Be patient and give it some time.
4. Plan ahead. Before heading out to your destination, make a list of things you’d like to do once you arrive. This added structure will prevent you from letting the days fly by without a plan and will help minimize potential anxiety and/or depression. Be sure to include downtime in your schedule!
5. Acknowledge that it may take you more time than it takes others to transition. Let your body gradually get used to the time and rhythm change.
6. Try to keep certain things consistent, like sleep schedules and mealtimes. These can be your constants to help keep you grounded.
7. Build in other routines throughout the day, such as a walk after lunch.
8. Coming home is yet another transition, so be easy on yourself. Upon returning home after vacation, ease back into it. Don’t plan any big events or important meetings as soon as you return. Allow yourself to gradually get back into your routine the first few days back home.
Following these tips should ensure an easy transition to and from vacation so that you can enjoy your time off to the fullest.