Holidays can be a wonderful time to reconnect with others and with ourselves. It can be a time of reflection and rejuvenation. A time of love and sharing. But holidays can also be incredibly stressful as we all know too well. With the added responsibilities and challenges associated with planning, traveling, errands, gifts, and entertaining cousin Fred, we may all find our working memory maxed out. This time of year can be particularly stressful if you are someone struggling with ADHD.

One way to combat the holiday stress is to remember to focus on strengths  – yours and others. We spend so much time venting to our friends and families on what is wrong in our lives that perhaps we have lost sight of what is right. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try a new outlook. It is a day for giving thanks, a day of affirmations. We can thank ourselves for our accomplishments, which on some days may simply be the ability to get out of bed in the morning or managing our frustrations with a modicum of finesse. Perhaps on a larger scale we can thank our family, friends and colleagues for being in our lives. Or maybe we can be spiritually thankful for simply “being”.

What is it that you are thankful for? Remember, changing behaviors is not about punishment, it’s about reinforcement. Wouldn’t it be nice if what you are reinforcing is the positives? To change your outlook I suggest you may need to change what you choose to focus on. Spend more time thinking your way into a better place. With each thought you are creating a memory, a track in your brain forever. Choose carefully. Be kind to yourself.

Today I am thankful for some simple pleasures that I often overlook: my daughter’s smile, the smell of my old golden retriever, my health. I am thankful for working in a field of medicine that I love and for the opportunities to lecture nationally on a topic near and dear to my heart – ADHD. I am thankful for my patients and their families, some of whom I’ve had the privilege of treating and sharing in their lives for over 10 years.

Happy Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks.

Theresa Cerulli, M.D.