The demands of the last two months of the year, as you surely know, are often great and can become overwhelming. Expectations can be difficult to manage, both our own and those of people we care about.

One reason the holidays are difficult is that they bring challenges to skills that are not our strongest. Organization, time management, stress management, and emotional regulation are just a few areas in which the tensions of the season can make it harder for us to function at our best.

At the same time, this is a time of year when we can find opportunities to shine! Our many strengths may find expression in creative activities and acts of generosity. The excitement of a change in routine brings a light to our eyes and a bounce to our step.

The last eight Wednesday HINTS of 2018 will focus on ways we might address the seasonal challenges to our skills and on ways we can enlist our strengths to support us through the end of the year. So, let’s get started!

This week we’ll look at the executive functioning skills of Planning and Prioritization, both of which are challenges to many of us.

 

It can be difficult for those of us with ADHD

to see the future,

thus making planning hard.

 

We also tend to see everything on our ToDo lists as of equal importance and thus have trouble choosing what to do first. Here are a few ideas that might help us all:

  1. Just say NO! Simplify! We are interested in everything and want to please everyone, but setting boundaries and limiting activities can make those things we do agree to do much more enjoyable and successful! ​​​​​​​
  2. Find a buddy or coach to work with at this busy time. Adding time to your already busy schedule for a talk with an accountability buddy or for a coaching session may seem counterintuitive, but support from someone who will listen non-judgmentally while helping you hold yourself accountable to your own goals can support you in simplifying things in the long run.
  3. Set aside a few minutes several times each day to PAUSE and breathe deeply while systematically releasing tension from your body. This stepping back from the hustle and bustle offers an opportunity to gain perspective and possibly make wiser choices.
  4. If your ToDo list is long and everything looks equally important, randomly choose three or four items to accomplish each day. If they are all equal, randomly selecting items to accomplish each day should work well. Put the other items out of mind and let them wait their turn. This will reduce overwhelm and result in positive feelings of accomplishment every day!
  5. Make a decision to notice three positive, enjoyable things that come into your experience each day, or more if you choose! Write them down in the evening, and read back over your lists from previous days as they accumulate. Take a moment to experience gratitude.

Have you taken the VIA Character Strengths Survey? It’s free at viacharacter.org and only takes about 20 minutes. Your results will be 100 percent positive and come in the form of a personalized list of the 24 Character Strengths each person possesses. They are listed in order of which traits show up the strongest in you.

One of those strengths is forgiveness. How can you use the character strength of forgiveness this time of year? Here are some ways that occur to me:

  1. Let go of old grievances and make peace with friends or family members. This will allow Thanksgiving and other holidays to be a time of joy and sincere gratitude.
  2. Forgive yourself for any ways in which you are not able to meet your own expectations or the expectations of others. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that is good enough! Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays!
  3. Forgive strangers for their apparent rudeness or thoughtlessness by reminding yourself that they, too, are doing the best they can. We can never know their stresses or the demands on them, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt.
  4. We all experiences challenges and we all have strengths. Our strengths can be enlisted to help friends or family members deal with the challenges they are experiencing. That can also energize us to make better choices as we face our own challenges!
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