Getting Through the Holidays After a Divorce

By |2017-12-13T13:03:57+00:00December 13th, 2017|Child Custody, Co-Parenting, Divorce, Wellness|0 Comments

 

It’s the holiday season, and while this time of year brings many together with loved ones and family, it can also be a time of heightened emotional turmoil and stress. This time of year can be even more intense when you’re going through a divorce. While a divorce can usher in new, positive energy for couples who seek positive changes in their life, it can also be a difficult transition. It’s not always simple to be completely separated from an ex during the holidays—especially if there are children involved. Dr. Robert Emery, PhD says that a relationship is never truly over when a couple has children, and this can make celebrating the holidays a bit more difficult after, or during, a divorce.  Difficult as they may be, they can also be quite joyous, and manageable despite your current life situation. To help pave the way, we’ve listed some helpful tips from experts who work with couples going through divorce.

Spread Joy

A great way to make the holidays manageable and more enjoyable is by finding and spreading joy. This is both a positive holiday activity, and something that can become a new tradition. It’s also an exercise in cultivating a mindset of gratitude. Children can enjoy participating in this ritual as well, as it teaches positive thinking, and emotional regulation. Directors Mr. Marsh and Dr. Keltner of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley believe a mindset of gratitude attributes to an overall sense of happiness. A great way to do this is by listing the things you appreciates about the special people in your life, and letting them know via holiday greeting cards, or other creative gestures how much they mean to you. Being grateful is an excellent way to find joy, and sharing it with others can only exacerbate these feelings.

Love Yourself

This may sound like a “no-brainer”, and to many it is, but when going through a divorce it can be difficult to love yourself while struggling with feelings of guilt, or self-blame. Even self-doubt can attribute to feelings that do not support self-love. Self-love involves the ability to forgive yourself, and to be kind to yourself. It also means taking good care of yourself in a way that sets you up for a healthier holiday season—both in body and mind. Practicing self-love is an excellent example for children, and it also ensures that you’ll be equipped with the tools needed to cope with holiday emotions. Part of loving yourself means engaging in positive self-care, and when needed, reaching out for emotional support from a trusted friend or trained therapist.

Start New Traditions

Engaging in new activities this holiday that can become new traditions is a wonderful way to start fresh and anew this year.  LCSW Susan Pease Gadoua  recommends this technique, as old traditions have a way of stirring up the past, and bringing old ghosts of holidays past to the dinner table (so to speak). This can trigger old emotions, and increase the likelihood of becoming sad, or stuck on nostalgia surrounding your ex this time of year. By starting new traditions, you’re taking the energy and focus off the past, and focusing on a fresh, new chapter in life.

Share the Love

If you’re struggling with a difficult life transition, it can help take your mind off the pain by giving love to others. This could be done by simple gestures of appreciation toward family, offspring, and pets. It could also entail donating time, or resources to those in need. Giving love to another offers you the freedom to step away from your own hurt and pain, and focus on the needs, joys, and splendors you find in those around you. It can be a great way to give your mind a break this holiday. It also feels pretty good.

Put Your Children First

If you’re a parent, putting the children first is a great way to cope with the holidays, as it offers the chance to live the holidays as a child again, and it offers opportunities for spreading love, and basking in the joy of family and togetherness. This doesn’t mean that you should spoil your children, and give them everything on their wish list. It simply means making the children a priority, and making decisions based upon what is best for them. This could manifest in a variety of forms, and as a parent you surely know which methods are best for all. For those of you who do not have children, it can help to focus on putting yourself first, and making time to spread love and joy with family, friends, and even pets. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and even fur babies (pets) can bring out the holiday spirit if you simply focus your attentions on the good—positive blessings in life, and nurture your special bonds.

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