For my divorcing clients, as well as many of us, the holidays are certainly a time of heightened emotions. Besides dividing time among the usual festivity preparations, travel arrangements, visits with relatives, and gift shopping, some of us have the additional burden of braving a separation or divorce this season. Check out these tips for thriving this holiday season.
Focus on what matters
This might be your first holiday sharing your children’s vacation with your co-parent. Perhaps your communication with said co-parent is not always fluid. Maybe new financial concerns are a part of your reality. So many questions from relatives, none of which you have the desire to answer. All of these potential challenges should be taken into account as you tackle the holiday festivities.
- Try your best to stay focused on your family and loved ones and not on your pending legal action right now. Attempting to make great strides in your case during the holidays may not be realistic for multiple reasons. You may need a break from the worry and uncertainty caused by your new normal. Remember, this is a tough phase you are in and is in no way permanent. Meaningful opportunities to connect with your family and friends and special moments of reflection are here for you now. Manage your own expectations.
- Create new traditions. The tendency to look through old photos and relive the best times when you celebrated the holidays as a couple will be there – try to resist the nostalgia and trips down memory lane. These can be powerful emotional triggers. Acknowledge the tough feelings and seize the opportunity for a holiday make-over. Shake things up with family and friends with new recipes, books, music, movies, games or charitable endeavors.
- Give Yourself Permission to Close for Renovation. Reserve some time for YOU this holiday season. Dabble in self-care. Do something nice for yourself to rejuvenate and renew your outlook. Resist the pressure to “get things done” around the house or organized for your pending divorce over your winter break. There will be ample opportunity to be productive come January 1st! Rest, exercise and enjoy good food and cheer. Say yes to holiday parties and opportunities for connection and new introductions. Buy yourself a special gift. Count your blessings and cultivate gratitude.
This holiday season, be realistic. If this is the first holiday season away from your partner or a holiday where you are alternating custody, your life is in the middle of a major change. Chances are, your holidays and emotional outlook next year will be far different. Practice being as present as possible this year and diving into the things you love about the season. Whether decorating, traveling, caroling, shopping, playing sports, participating in faith-based activities and celebrations or catching up on the latest season of your favorite series – giving yourself permission to enjoy your holidays will pay dividends.