Holidays aren’t always happy and can be particularly challenging for those experiencing their first holiday season post-divorce or in the midst of divorce. If you find yourself struggling to handle the holidays surrounding your divorce, whether it’s due to strained finances, lost traditions, or sadness about being without a partner, here are some tips to ward off the holiday blues:
- Create new traditions: If the first night of Hannukah or Christmas Eve holds the most meaning for you, it can be upsetting not to have your children on those days. You may feel like all traditions are now lost. Remember that celebrating in new and different ways can be fun, and your children will adapt. The calendar does not dictate when and how you can celebrate. Sometimes, Santa does come on December 26.
- Volunteer: If your divorce means that you will be alone on a holiday, consider volunteering at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Soup kitchens are always looking for people who are available on holidays. Not only will you serve those most in need and brighten your mood, but you’ll undoubtedly also make new friendships to carry you forward into the future.
- Go simple with gifts: If money is tight, think about what you remember most about the holidays from your childhood. Is it a particular gift? Or is it the time you spent baking cookies with your mom, watching holiday specials on television with your siblings, sledding with your dad, or lighting the menorah with your grandparents? Instead of worrying that you cannot shower your children with gifts this year or compete with your ex for the most expensive item, give your children the gift of your time and undivided attention… and one present to unwrap.
- Remember your self-care: People can become so engulfed in preparing for the holidays, with the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and working, that taking time to exercise, practice meditation, or do yoga gets pushed aside. Do not let the demands of the holidays make you forget these stress relievers. And certainly, do not cancel your therapy appointments. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression can creep in if you do not practice self-care. Make time to do so.
- Be Realistic: The first holiday season after divorce brings new and different challenges, and you may have feelings you’ve not experienced before at this time of year. If you do not have the energy for all those parties, do not go. If you need to lean on your friends more, tell them. Don’t force yourself if you cannot stand to watch a Christmas movie or listen to Christmas music. If you feel sad that things are changing, talk about it. There may be some bumps in the road to grandma’s house as your children adjust to holidays with their parents apart. Not every year is going to be the most magical ever, and that is okay. Give yourself a break. You’ve just gone through a stressful process. Give yourself and your children time to get back in the groove.
Wishing you peace this holiday season,
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