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Managing ADHD Symptoms During The Holiday

Holiday time can be exciting (spending time with loved ones), overwhelming (forced to spend time with family) and challenging (a break in routine). This is especially true for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who have to deal with the added pressure of the holidays and free time, causing anxiety and stress, that can trigger their ADHD symptoms.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic brain disorder.1 The main symptoms of ADHD can affect a person’s behaviour and includes1

  • Inattentive,
  • Hyperactive, and
  • Impulsive.

In children, ADHD symptoms are observed as distraction, unable to complete tasks and often interrupting others.1In adults, the symptoms show up as anxiety, mood swings, procrastination, depression and relationship problems.1

Medication is recommended to manage ADHD symptoms, so are coping techniques that can make a difference, especially over the holidays. If you’re considering taking a ‘drug holiday’, talk to your doctor who will advise you based on your symptoms.

Enjoy a stress-free holiday period with these helpful tips

  1. Plan ahead2

Holiday travelling can be stressful, as people spend more time on the road because of traffic, queues at rest stops, and getting stuck with delayed flights. Plan ahead to make sure travel disruptions don’t impact regular meal times, or when treatment should be taken.

  1. Holiday diet2

Delicious desserts often rule over the holidays, but increased sugar in your diet can impact ADHD symptoms. Plan healthy balanced meals and snacks. Be sure to include fruit and vegetables, and drink lots of water. All this will maintain a consistent energy level.

  1. Keep to sleep routine2

It’s easy to lose track of time and stay up all night, especially when there’s no reason to wake up early. But, a lack of sleep can mean a person is less focused the next day. Try as much as possible to keep to a good sleep routine, which includes no screen time before bed.

  1. Structure activities for children3

Holidays mean a lot of free time, but for children living with ADHD, this time should be used productively. Plan lots of fun activities so children don’t get bored, and so that they stay out of trouble. Ask your children what they’d like to do. Activities of their choice will keep them engaged and guarantee a fun and relaxing time for the family.

  1. Don’t stop treatment4

Holiday time doesn’t mean taking a break from ADHD treatment. Stick to the regular treatment schedule recommended by your doctor, and avoid symptoms returning or worsening. That way you’ll be ready to hit the ground running and have a successful 2021.

These tips for managing ADHD symptoms are a great way to plan for a relaxing holiday. Everything won’t always go according to plan, and it’s important not to stress.

For additional resources, advice and support, like and follow the Our Mental Health Facebook page. SANOFI in partnership with Janssen continues to offer practical resources for parents, guardians and support systems of people living with ADHD.

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26 comments

  1. Great managing skills to control the adhd symptoms during the holiday.

  2. This is something Tricky and not many parents want to admit their child has ADHD.. so in this instance where you see the symptoms but dont want to admit it what can you give your child to help with concentration and keeping them calm?

    • Naomi I really believe strongly that you need to have a good treatment program set up by professionals to help your child. I’m so with you, nobody wants their child to have ADHD or anything else, but if you see something is not right it is always best to see the professionals to be guided in the correct treatment.

  3. My son is almost 4years and I see a lot of symptoms in him relating to ADHD. But my husband does not want to hear anything about ADHD or that our son may be ADHD. (My husband was diagnosed with ADHD as a child) How can I convince my husband to take our son to a professional? I can see that something is not right, and I don’t want my son to carry the consequences.

    • What a tough situation to be in. I totally understand why someone would want to bury their head in the sand and not face something. Perhaps research the consequences of not taking the required steps to help your son if he has ADHD and tell your husband you don’t want to take that chance, that you want to take him for an evaluation.

      • Thanks 🙂 I never thought about that. I am definitely going to do that.. Hope you have a great day

      • Salochana Naidoo

        Very good read. When our little boy was 3 (he’s now 5), showed some of these symptoms, we thought it was ADHD. We were going to consult a professional, until his teachers brought to our attention that he was getting bored in class as he already knew everything that was being covered in class. (Teachers from the other classes, on dropping by, also noticed his work and commented on how their students were struggling to do what he could already do). It was suggested that he be moved to a grade higher, which was done. He seems to be more settled in his behaviour now, as it seems he needed something more challenging.

      • Dear Lynne Thank you for this information, my son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 11 years, it’s a struggle but I decided to take the med free holiday,during lockdown, i try to keep him busy with puzzles and other activities. The brain just needs alot of stimulation 🥰 else he gets bored.

        • Thank you for this article. I’ve been suspecting that my son has it but doctors are saying it’s normal for a kid his age. With the pandemic, I’ve been too afraid to get him anywhere near a hospital for a second opinion, but these guidelines do help a lot.

  4. Wendy Marthinus

    This info is so helpful, I’ve been at my wits end with my son whom just doesn’t seem to get tired or need rest, where as I am always exhausted to the point of feeling like I’m losing my mind. This have given me some insight with regards to understand him better.

  5. Elda van Heerden

    ADHD struggle is real.Which more people will pay attention to this.I went to school with kids that has these problem and more and is really not easy for them

  6. Hermione Booysen

    Same good points to help i have a astic son

  7. Elmaré Prince

    Very informative piece. Thanks

  8. Very informative!

  9. These tips are great. I am struggling with my daughter especially when it comes to bedtime. She hate going to sleep. Is there any natural sleep aids I can use to at least calm her down at night.

  10. Great tips. Will definitely help in my household. Thank you

  11. Sharleen Deacon

    Very informative info which I was pass on.
    Thank you

  12. I am also struggling with my son and sleep time, He is 5 and awake from around 9am till 11pm every day. we fight about doing school work daily he says its boring to do school work, the only thing he enjoys is arts and crafts. Also food is a major problem unless u sit and feed him his meals he takes almost 2 hours to finish a small meal. Is there anything i can do to get rid of these daily dramas

  13. Very informative!

  14. These are really great tips and will definitely help. Thanks

  15. Jeanine Marshall

    My son battles with Chronic ADHD and the holidays have been exhausting because we can’t go to the hospital to get his medication due to Corona. He has now started having extreme outbursts of anger in the last year since starting puberty so I’m concerned that he might need a mood stabilizer. We are just trying to manage it as best we can while hospital is closed for appointments.

  16. Bianca von Meyer

    ADHD is such a taboo subject in my family. Thank you for this blog post. It opened up my eyes to a few things.

  17. This is so insightful and helpful even now as kids are still home due to lockdown restrictions

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