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Transition Days Changed Everything!

 

I used to be the kind of girl who would go on vacation and go right back to work the next day.   My suitcase would sit on the floor next to my bed for a week.  By the end of the week it would be a hot mess of clothes, makeup, and hair care half sprawled on the floor in a haphazard attempt of unpacking out of sheer necessity.  My husband would give me the look … you know the one that makes you question “am I really the messy one in the relationship?” The typical day after vacation would look something like this.  Of course, I hadn’t had time to go to the grocery store in my frantic attempt to jump back into my life of busyness i'd settled for an on-the-go snack which usually is something along the lines of crackle barrel cheese and wheat thins simply because it is the only thing in the fridge (well and it's delicious but probably not the best breakfast choice).  With a full day booked, I head out of the house half asleep due to exhaustion from the travel the day before with frizzy hair because my hair straightner is still packed (good thing I started packing my toothbrush in my carry on).  I would then get in my car only to realize that my gas tank is not on empty but like actually empty, to the point where it doesn't show how many miles you have left to go, it just says, "Fuel Low" and I may or may not make it to the gas station.  At this point I barely have enough time to stop and fill it up so my genious math skills start to add up how many gallons I need to put in to make it to where I am headed so I dont waste time I don't have since I am already late to my appointment.  Am I the only one?  I felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation! One day home and I already have found my way back into complete chaos.

The above life was prediagnosed ADHD life.  I thought it was normal because this is all I had ever known.  The day I was officially diagnosed, I cried.  I felt so much relief that my disorganization did not equal lazy.  I felt like I could finally find strategy in the chaos.  I felt validated that there is a reason I am the way I am.  I felt like I finally had answers to things I could never understand before.  I finally had an explanation for why I have ran out of gas more than once in my life and excel at hitting the snooze button every 8 minutes for over an hour or why I usually have 72+ tabs open on my computer!

A quick overview for those of you non ADHD’ers who might feel ADHD is a made up blanket diagnosis that doesn’t truly exist.  ADD is a brain-based disorder.  It is real and when diagnosed ADHD’ers lives can be drastically changed because they understand what has been sabbotaging their best efforts.  Knowing how your brain is different and what your brain specifically needs to control emotions, increase focus and get a grasp on time management can save marraiges, jobs and relationships.  Brain scans have shown that the prefrontal cortex (PFC or Executive Center) in an ADHD brain is smaller then those without ADHD.  It is the most evolved part of the human brain; the center of focus, forethought, judgment, organization, planning, impulse control, empathy and learning from the mistakes you make.  It makes up to 30% of your brain!  People with ADD can become overfocused to things that are new, highly stimulating, interesting or frightening.  This means that household chores, stopping at the gas station to fill up our gas tank before the light comes on or unpacking our suitcase after a trip are some of the toughest tasks for us to even acknowledge as important.  We take a disorganized approach to many things in life not by choice but because our brain does not know how to complete these things without a little pressure (E.g.  gas light turning on) to get them done, they are not even on our radar until it creates a problem in our life.

Ok … so you might be wondering what the heck all of this has to do with transition days and how to not feel like you need a vacation from your vacation!  Hang in there, I am getting to that next!  After being diagnosed I became hyper focused on learning everything I could on the brain and how my brain differs then other brains.  The first educational book I read and finished from front to back (for fun) was Healing ADD by Dr. Daniel Amen.  My husband actually was worried about me because I sat on the couch for days underlining, reading and studying his every word.  In the 10 years that he had known me, he had never seen me read a book like this, not even in college (that should be a whole different blog post).  I was over focused because I was highly engaged and interested to hear Dr. Amen validate and crush every false belief I had collected about myself over the years.  I had never felt so connected to someone or something that seemed to understand me so well.  Complete validation!  That book led to tons and tons of research.  I began to study the brain, diet, and exercise, chemicals in the brain, supplements, stimulants and how thoughts affected the brain.  My search for tools to work with my new diagnoses lead me to a life changing phone call to ADHD coach, Jane Massengill.  Never could have I ever imagined what 1 phone call (that I almost didn't make) would do for my life.  Jane had wrote the chapter on Coaching in the book that I had read a few months prior.  The one that I still keep on my nightstand and refer to at least once a week.  I guess in my mind I didn't think I would be brave enough, worthy enough or important enough to be coached by someone who wrote a chapter in such an amazing book.  Well Jane would tell me... that was my Gremlin talking (don't judge, you have Gremlins too).  I finally stopped procrastinating, got over my made up fears and gave her a call.  We booked an appointment a few months later and her couch became a familiar safe zone for me for a little over a year. 

Jane Masengill, I am forever grateful for you. 

Along with MANY life changing tools (that I am sure I will write on in the future), Jane taught me the power of transition days.  She taught me how to use an annual calendar and mark out a few days before you leave and several days after returning for "transition days."   They are planned into your trip agenda as part of the trip.  Your transition days are low pressure, low people interaction days.  Before learning about transition days my mind would think like this, “I need to get as much done as possible for work, cram in as many appointments and stay up the entire night getting as much as I can done so I can relax on vacation and feel like I can truly relax.  The 2 transition days after a trip are the most important.  For me, Day 1 is “rest, don’t beat yourself up and do what you can.".  Day 2 is, “you better get all of this done by the end of the day and get back to it."  The key to your transition days is that you do not jump in to meetings or other activities that involve a lot of engagement with people.  In a business like mine, I have found if I don't put my life in order and have my basic needs met like; feeding myself and clean clothes to wear how am I supposed to give my best to the women I mentor?  I realized that I couldn't so no matter how much I want to jump back into work I had to recognize that I needed to slow down to speed up. Objectives can vary but here are my objectives for before and after the trip:

Transition Day 1 before trip:

  • Pack your bag *you can start this several days before Transition Day- its a good idea to check weather ahead of time*
  • Shop for what you might need – toiletries, outfits etc. (This is why Jane says 2-3 days but we have Amazon Prime 1 Day and my ADHD brain still likes to procastinate… I said Jane HELPED my ADD, she didnt CURE it people! 
  • Fill up your gas tank so its full when you return
  • Stop at an ATM to get cash out
  • Clean out your car so it’s ready to be packed up in the morning!
  • Tidy up the house so you return to a clean home (make your bed before you leave). *this is something the ADHD brain struggles with so I usually delegate this to someone else so it gets done*
  • Empty food in fridge, take out garbage
  • Clean out your purse and wallet
  • Plan your return meals ahead of time so you do not feel tempted to go through the drive through fast food down the street in panic/starving mode! - I use instacart (grocery delivery) and Home Chef (Meal Delivery) and will have everything ready in my cart ready to go for delivery.   

Transition Day 1 & 2 after returning from trip:

  • Sleep in if you need to! Your body needs rest after travel, especially if your ADD!  If you work a full time job and have to go straight back, plan ahead of time with your boss to come in a few hours later.  A lack of sleep will not make you more productive!  (some would prob say the opposite and that getting back into your early morning routine is important but I beg to differ).
  • Unpack your bag
  • Put away your suitcase in storage or where it belongs
  • Laundry from start to finish (this means put away)
  • Wash sheets and put back on bed
  • Grocery Shopping/Meal Planning for the week (I use instacart so groceries are delivered while I do laundry). Getting back into your healthy eating habits is critical in your first few days home!  Avoid a fast food emergency!
  • Try to exercise at least 1 day of your 2 transition days to re-establish your normal exercise routine (exercise is 1 of the best things you can do for the ADHD brain).
  • Take your car through the car wash and give the inside a good clean out.
  • Take a look at Bills, make sure you didn’t miss anything while away – pay anything coming up.
  • Catch up on emails, sort, delete and make sure you didn’t miss any important to-do’s.

Transition days can be built in even if you have to go back to work but they must be planned out ahead of time, built into your schedule and communicated with the rest of your family so they are on board to either help you complete the tasks needed for transition days or give you grace to get these things done.  Plan your vacation days just like you plan the details of the vacation, it is all part of the planning process! Ideally if you can take an extra vacation day built into your time off to truly take a transition day or 2 you will see how much better you feel.  Less stress.  Less anxiety.   More happiness. More productivity. Below I have included a worksheet to download to help you prep your transition days effectively.  The weekly plan sheet will help you plan your transition days, map out how you are going to get your objectives done without overwhelming yourself.  It might even help you realize you need to take that extra day off even if it does take up 1 extra PTO day.  WORTH IT!!!!

Love you with all my heart,

#Fallonsmymarykaygirl

"Your attitude will be the most significant factor in your success, for with the right attitude you can do everything wrong and still succeed. But with the wrong attitude you can do everything right and fail. So if you think you can, you can! But if you think you can’t, you’re right. The greatest undeveloped territory in the whole world is right under your hat." ~ Mary Kay Ash