The holidays can be difficult for anyone, but they can be especially tough for people who have recently gone through a divorce or separation. For many divorced people, the first holiday season after a divorce means missing out on beloved family traditions, vacations, and other formerly shared experiences. In their place may be the brand-new stresses of planning family events for the first time or taking on the preparation of a big holiday meal.
Dealing with the stress, anxiety, and sadness of facing the holidays after a divorce or separation can be challenging, but it is possible to get through them — and maybe even enjoy yourself. By focusing on the positive aspects of the holidays, managing your expectations, and asking for help when you need it, you can relieve some of the pressure the holidays inevitably bring.
Managing Holiday Stress After Divorce
Your first holiday season after a divorce or separation does not have to be overwhelming. Here are some tips to try to help you minimize your stress and anxiety this time of year:
- Don't try to do everything yourself. If you’re used to planning the holidays for your family, it might feel natural to do it again this year — even if doing so will only bring stress and conflict. Remembering that this year is different can relieve you of that burden. This is the time to delegate tasks to other family members or friends, freeing you up to just enjoy the holidays.
- Spend the first holiday season after your divorce celebrating the way you want to. For you, this could mean connecting with friends and family you don’t see often enough, or traveling to a new city, or getting out into nature. This is a time to choose activities that comfort and nourish you — and decline invitations to those that don’t.
- Manage your expectations. Some of the things you love about the holidays might be missing this year, or they might feel strange and awkward. That's okay. This is all new. Take things one day at a time, feel sad and mourn when you need to, and remember the joyful aspects of the season when you can.
Feeling at least a little stressed, anxious, or sad during the holidays when you’re recently divorced is probably inevitable. In a season that focuses on tradition, continuity, and family, change is hard. Take time to acknowledge your feelings, reach out for help when you need it, and celebrate in ways that bring you peace and comfort.
Loneliness and Post-Divorce Holidays
Loneliness can hit newly divorced and separated people especially hard during the holidays, as they’re reminded of special times with their former spouse or watch new romances take off in the people around them. The onslaught of holiday rom-coms on the Hallmark channel doesn’t help either.
But newly single people can get through this tough time, and even thrive. Here’s how:
- Participate in social events. This might sound a little obvious, but sometimes when we’re feeling lonely, our instinct is to remain alone, which only worsens the problem. Even if you have to make a real effort to do it, try to attend a few social events such as holiday parties or gatherings with friends. The experience will remind you that you’re not always all alone.
- Allow yourself to grieve, and seek help if necessary. Sometimes, your new way of celebrating the holiday season and all that comes with it, from presents to parties, will just make you sad. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. If your feelings become overwhelming or begin interfering with your day-to-day activities, seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with support and guidance during this difficult time.
Divorce without Conflict Leads to Peaceful Holidays
While the holiday season can be difficult for many newly divorced people, it is essential to remember that both the holidays and divorce are about renewal and hope as much as the past. Divorce may mark the end of one chapter, but it also opens up the possibility for new family traditions and a happier next chapter.
At the Miller Law Group, we believe that divorce does not have to be contentious. Start your new life with your best foot forward by mediating your issues with your former spouse and avoiding the messy drama that can follow you for years. Call our office today to learn more about your options and schedule a consultation.