All around Tampa, Christmas trees are being lit, menorahs are being polished, and unity cups and kinaras are being set on display. Throughout the hustle and bustle of what is generally seen as a season of togetherness and family, many people are facing the holidays while going through a divorce. The holiday season can be stressful as it is; add a divorce to the mix and it’s enough to make anyone raise a white flag.
While divorce is often seen as a breaking or an ending, it can also be an intense period of renewal and rebirth. Part of that energy can be imparted into breathing new life into the holidays and reshaping them to fit your needs. You can survive the holidays—even while divorcing.
7 Tips for Surviving the Holidays During a Divorce
1. Identify stressors and eliminate as many as possible.
Stress adds up quickly during the holidays. We get it at work, at home, from family, and from friends. During a divorce, however, that stress can seem magnified. To keep from being overwhelmed, identify different things or activities that are generating stress and consider how many can be eliminated. It’s ok to skip the White Elephant gift exchange or cut back on how many treats you bake. Give yourself permission to say no to some activities or events so you can be sure you have the energy for others.
2. Make a plan.
Identifying the events and traditions you want to uphold can help you create a plan that gets you through to January. Take a look at your calendar and pencil in any events. If you won’t be celebrating with your kids, what can you do instead? What are your favorite holiday activities? Make sure to write those down in pen!
In addition, consider what you will do when you feel sad, lonely, or overwhelmed? Who will you call?
3. Communicate with your co-parent.
If you have children, it’s important to keep your co-parent in the loop for certain plans. This is likely the last thing you want to do, however, in order to establish the new role of co-parents and to ensure your children have a nice holiday, communicating and cooperating are necessary. Make the kids the focus of the conversation and keep things civil.
4. Surround yourself with a support network.
You may feel like you’re bumming out your friends with your divorce or that no one wants to be around you. That’s not the case. Make plans with loved ones and celebrate being together. Understand that they care about you, even while you are going through a tough time.
5. Craft new traditions.
If you have the energy to start crafting new traditions, a divorce is a good time to start. Check out this previous post about creating new holiday traditions during and after divorce.
6. Take care of yourself.
During the holiday season, we tend to focus on others. In order to nurture strength and fortitude, however, it’s important to invest in yourself. Make sure to take the time to participate in activities that matter to you and that help you recharge your batteries, whether it’s exercising, reading, or taking a hot bath.
7. Take it a day at a time.
One day’s stress doesn’t have to carry over into the next. Take every day as a new opportunity. Reach out to your support network as necessary.
Evaluating your expectations and make a concerted effort to set new, realistic expectations for the holiday season can go a long way towards making the next few weeks better. Remember to focus on the joy of what you have and to set aside any worry or stress your divorce may be causing you, if only temporarily.