Going through a divorce can be extremely difficult and bring many overwhelming emotions to the surface. The holidays are a time to ignite joy, but also a time when expectations can be heightened, and we feel like we need to step up and look strong. Remember this time is an opportunity to loosen those expectations, be kinder to yourself, and embrace your own feelings without shame or guilt.
If you are experiencing divorce or its aftermath, you are likely dealing with the reality of change and what that means for the upcoming holidays. I have compiled together a list of suggestions to help you move through the season:
1. HONOR YOURSELF
You don’t have to do everything this holiday. If you feel like skipping the festivities, do what feels right. As much as we want to believe that Christmas is an inherently joyful occasion, it isn’t always. That said, it is okay not to feel the holiday spirit. If you aren’t up for a celebration, honor your feelings and take a pass.
Plan what you are going to do on the holiday, where you will go and who you will be with. Do not wait until the last minute. Have a plan even if the plan is watching a movie on the couch. You may also want to create a contingency plan in case Plan A does not materialize the way you thought it would.
3. MAINTAIN BOUNDARIES
If you will be spending time with family and friends, let them know what you are comfortable talking about and what you would prefer not to. Do not minimize your emotional needs for the sake of being polite. In fact, it is more helpful to share what you need as it can help them better understand how to support you.
4. BE CAREFUL WITH FOOD AND DRINK
Anesthetizing emotions with food or alcohol is not a good idea. As tempting as it may be to numb out with an extra cocktail or pound of fudge, you will likely feel a lot worse after. While this is understandable, it’s not a healthy or long-term solution. If you are overwhelmed by emotions, find a healthy outlet (ie. talk to someone, take a walk, or get in a hot shower and cry).
5. START NEW TRADITIONS
If the holiday rituals you kept with your former spouse are hard to think about or enjoy, start a new tradition or two. Maybe it’s a nacho bar on Christmas Eve instead of the prime rib dinner or volunteering time at a shelter on New Year’s Eve?
Divorce is a huge transition, and holidays can be very difficult. Loosen expectations and be kind to yourself this holiday season.