If you are going through a separation or divorce, the holiday season will hit you in full force with its usual grace, chaos and sense of urgency. You have probably not had time to think about how it will affect you during the holidays, how you will cope and what it will look like. This is when we all prepare to survive the long dinners, uncomfortable and indiscreet questions.
If the separation is recent enough and it’s your first time having holidays on your own, this will be a particularly challenging time. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Easter or Christmas, the holidays can deepen feelings of loss and grief. All the little things can make you feel nostalgic, like decorating your home for the holidays, going Christmas shopping, or having New Years Eve on your own.
Even if your life isn’t on track right now, it’s important to remember that you have options for spending the holidays. Here are six ideas to help you prepare for the holidays with a healthy mindset.
1. Know what to expect
Before, you used to spend Christmas with your ex-partner and family, but this year won’t be like that. This is your first year “single”, you are ready to enjoy your world differently. Expect it to be different from last year. Everything will change, so be easy on yourself and don’t try to make it perfect.
If you have children, try to be one step ahead and plan your parent schedule. Agree with your ex-spouse about the times and conditions that both of you will have during the holidays; that way, all will be equal and as polite as can be.
Super important tip: keep things friendly (and if it’s not possible: as diplomatic as possible). We all know how messy things can get, but if you manage it with a positive mindset and put your children in the center, sort all the issues face-to-face in private, the holidays can be less painful for you and your kids.
2. Don’t go crazy with gifts
We all know how expensive a divorce process is. For some, the cost could go $25,000 or more plus all the time and energy you spend on it. And we all know that holidays can quickly turn into a money drain.
This is when you can think about a budget for the gifts! Make them yourself, and try something more meaningful than conventional gifts; the options are limitless. Grab your computer to get into Pinterest to start browsing for new and unique ideas to turn a tight situation into a fun experience you will forever remember.
3. Build your support system
A wonderful time to connect again with family and friends. Whether it was a separation or a divorce, you can feel lonely and isolated, but you can turn this around! You must be the first to want it and make the first move.
If you don’t have many friends or feel like you need extra support to deal with these times, or to plan ahead, it’s the moment to consider some coaching to look into the future in a more positive mindset.
4. Focus on Self-Care
Holidays and breakups have something in common; they are both exhausting and draining. Remember to take care of yourself first before taking care of anyone else. You need to focus on what’s best for you, like getting enough sleep each night, remembering to stay hydrated, and eat good food, but also some time to paint your nails or do something that makes you feel special and happy.
Also, try to focus your mind on an activity that helps you relax and drain all those evil or intrusive thoughts you may have during the holidays. Journaling, painting, drawing, reading a novel or self-help book. If you can, perhaps you could try meditating.
5. Carve Out Some “Me” Time
Focus on you! This is when you take time for yourself. Who cares if you miss another event or a party? Your mental and emotional health is essential. Have a regular date with yourself where you call the shots…
Stop thinking of the traditional holiday plans. Create a new tradition: go on a short trip by yourself, stay in a coffee shop until you’re ready to deal with the world again, or stay in a hotel for a night. But the most important thing you need to do is to embrace with gratitude how lucky you are to be yourself. It might not feel amazing right now, but once everything settles, you will be happy for how strong you were.
6. Commit to Exercise and a Better Diet
During these times, it’s super easy to indulge in more delicious food that is not so good for our health. Don’t get me wrong, holiday dinners are incredible and something we must all enjoy, but eating and drinking every night like Christmas could do us more harm than good.
If you feel too stressed after the divorce and also dealing with anxiety for the holidays, try some new exercises to help you release all that tension from your body. Combine this with a healthy diet avoiding sugar and lots of processed food, and you might have the solution to walking out of the holidays in better shape physically and mentally.