Take your coping strategies with you

I learned a valuable lesson on vacation the other week.  Even though it happened on vacation, it’s a lesson that applies to any journey away from home.  Here’s the story… Rhode Island was our destination.  None of us had ever been there before and we were excited about going to a new place.  Wanting to be spontaneous, we didn’t do much planning. On the first full day of our trip, we had donuts for breakfast.  What a treat!   We then spent the day exploring the area.  The roads were poorly marked and didn’t match the directions we pulled up on the mobile phone’s tiny browser screen.  We were chronically lost and incredibly frustrated.  I ordered what I wanted when we stopped for lunch: a cup of chowda and homemade white bread.  Yummy!  By dinner time, after getting lost a few more times, my brain was so overloaded that I had a great deal of difficulty coping with the unfamiliar grocery store.  I hadn’t made a shopping list, so I didn’t pick up anything with nutritional value. Can you spot my mistakes?  I did, but only after recovering from a complete meltdown.  Here they are:

  • Junk food.  Since I was on vacation, I felt justified in eating whatever I felt like.
  • No exercise.  Similarly, I abandoned my exercise regimen.  Not that I could have exercised much in the car during the 8-hour trip.  But I could have a found a way when we arrived.
  • Insufficient sleep.  Not having exercised, and being in a strange place, it was hard to sleep the first night.
  • No supplements.  I failed to unpack my supplements and put them next to the coffee filters (so I bump into them in the morning) like I do at home.
  • No printed maps.  My coping strategy to avoid getting lost is to print and review maps ahead of time.  Since we were being spontaneous, we didn’t do that.  Can you believe that not one of the 47 maps in my glove box included the state of Rhode Island?
  • No planning time.  I’m very good at planning when I take the time to do it.  When I don’t, I get overwhelmed by an unlimited array of choices.

All of this added up to a very unpleasant evening as my ADHD symptoms collided into one big emotional mess.  Thankfully, my son and my boyfriend were extremely patient and supportive.  Thanks guys!  I was able to regroup the next day and enjoy the rest of the trip. Don’t make the same mistake I did.  When you go away somewhere – whether it’s vacation, a weekend getaway, a business trip, or off to college -  remember to take your ADHD coping strategies with you.