Dealing with a divorce is difficult no matter the time of year but dealing with divorce over the holidays compounds the stress. It means more time with family who may or may not be on board with this significant change in your life. It means hearing opinions that you did not ask for even though they may mean well. It could also mean missing out on some traditions you love.
From someone who has been there, all I can say is that is does get easier. The first holiday season either during and/or just following your separation/divorce is by far the hardest.
Related post: Your First Christmas After Divorce
Recognize that it's a difficult time of year and take extra good care of yourself. Eat well, get exercise, and make sure you are getting adequate sleep. All of these things will put you in a better position to deal with the stress.
I know that at the holidays we often think more about others than we do about ourselves. However, if you are having a difficult time, do something nice for yourself. Get a massage. Go out to dinner with a friend. Take a bubble bath. Do something that will help you feel good about you. I know money can be tight during a divorce, but you don't have to spend lots of money to do something nice for yourself.
Decide how you are going to discuss your divorce before the topic arises with others. Be thoughtful about how much it makes sense to share. It's fair to assume that whatever you do say will get back to your ex. While that may not be the case, it might make you think twice about what you say or how you say it.
Flexibility is critical, especially if there are children involved. Remember that children want to spend time with both parents. If you aren't with your kids on the 25th, plan a “Special Christmas” when you will be. There is no reason to give up anything, rearrange.
Related post: How to Help Your Children Cope with Divorce
With all of the changes you have going on in your life right now, it's easy to cocoon in your home and avoid family and friends. Resist the temptation. Reach out to people who care about you and will be supportive.
Let's face it. Sometimes going through a divorce means you are divorcing friends as well. This is especially true if you and your soon-to-be-ex shared all of the same friends. If you have done everything together in the past, it may be time to start some brand new traditions. Remember, you're in the driver's seat here.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If this is your first holiday season as a single person, it is reasonable to have some emotional ups and downs; you are still in the grieving process. Do your best to think about your new future and try not to dwell on the past. Think of new possibilities. What are the activities that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time? Now’s the time to make it happen!
Good luck this holiday season. Remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling, consider attending a support group so you can meet others who are facing the same challenges you are.