As we approach the holiday season, it may appear that we all are fulfilled with holiday cheer. However, for many, the holiday season can be tough and full of tension—especially if you are going through a separation or divorce and have children.
If you are someone going through a separation or divorce, the months of November and December amplify your sentiments of loneliness, melancholy, and stress. Understandably, most people going through a separation or divorce feel overwhelmed by the tension and pressure of trying to maintain the status quo, when in fact, their entire world is barely staying afloat.
The constant cheer and forced togetherness of the holiday season serves as an incessant reminder of celebratory and joyous times, contrasted by the bleak reality of loneliness and depression. Although there are some who anticipate the holidays, a recently separated or divorced person often approaches this time of year with anxiety, sorrow, and dread. While there are no easy solutions to treat the holiday blues, there are things you can do to make it easier to manage.
COORDINATE FUN ACTIVITIES – Plan to do activities that are enjoyable, calming, and as stress-free as possible with people you care about and who care about you. If the holidays are just too uncomfortable and the mementos are everywhere, maybe take a trip that allows you to “escape ” the agonizing memories.
TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE NEW TRADITIONS & REASSURE YOUR KIDS THINGS WILL STILL BE FUN & FESTIVE- It’s a great idea to create some original customs with family and friends. And if you are excited to introduce your loved ones to some new holiday rituals, they will most likely be excited to create them with you too. In fact, it will be even more fun if you and your kids brainstorm together to come up with fun activities to try. By incorporating your children in the holiday planning process, everyone’s mind will be taken off of the recent pain of the separation or divorce and focused on something new, fresh, and exciting.
ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU ARE ACTING “IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD” – Choose ahead of time how holidays will be split. Encourage your kids that you will be JUST FINE while they are with the other parent, and do not disparage the other parent when you are spending alone time with your children. Don’t forget, your kinds are learning just as you are how to cope in this new world when their parents are no longer together. Kids will be stressed out and cranky, so plan according to their ages and ability to adjust to change. Keep the arrangements as simple as possible.
CREATE AN AGENDA – Make a list of everything you need and want to accomplish for the holiday season and dates you want to complete those tasks. This will help you to feel more organized, in control, less stressed, and overall accomplished, which creates a feeling of joy.
ONE DAY AT A TIME- Always remember, that this time will get easier and better as you learn to cope and readjust your life. Change is not always a bad thing, and in time, you will see that change may even be the best thing for you, even if you don’t see it right away. It’s is perfectly fine to rely on your friends, family, and other healthy support systems if you are feeling alone or depressed. It is also okay to let your support people to let them know you need from them and are grateful they are in your life.
Lastly, do not posture in your mind what the “picture perfect” holidays are. Do what you can to make you happy and you will find that when you drop your expectations, you will feel happier and less stressed because you won’t be trying to reach a benchmark that just does not exist. Lastly, just concentrate on one thing at a time!