Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience for most, but those overwhelming emotions may be intensified during the holidays. The holidays are typically a time of joy and happiness, time spent with loved ones, celebrations and family traditions. A divorce can disrupt every aspect of how you see, feel and spend the holiday season. It is tempting to feel like your divorce is the end of your life, happiness and holidays as you know it, but there is a way to cope and endure during this time. Below is a list of ways to help you cope with divorce during the holidays.
- Practice Patience – Be patient with yourself. You are moving through the stages of grief and loss and may feel shocked, confused, sad, angry or relief within minutes of each other. Educate yourself on these stages to increase your awareness of what is happening to you and that it is normal. Overtime, this process will pass and you will tolerate and cope through holidays easier. Take one holiday at a time and accept where you are each year. Things will get better.
- Simplify – Re-examine your priorities. Take into account your smaller living space, smaller bank account and smaller set of friends. Plan ahead by making schedules and setting goals to accomplish what’s most important to you during this time. This will help you avoid getting overwhelmed with last minute obligations and will alleviate unnecessary tasks.
- Create New Family Traditions – Yes, things will be different, change is inevitable during this time. Set realistic expectations for the holidays. Talk with your children about the changes but most importantly what will remain the same. As you move forward, include your children in coming up with new rituals and family traditions that will be special to you all.
- Ask for Help – Gather a supportive network consisting of friends, family, pastors and a mental health professional. Share your difficult emotions with trusting individuals to assist with developing appropriate coping skills in a safe environment.
- Focus on Others – Remember what your personal meaning of the holidays are, the ones that are everlasting no matter what. Whether it’s helping others, volunteering your time to those less fortunate, gift giving or preparing recipes passed down through generations. Focus on keeping this meaning of the holidays alive by focusing on others, which will also be a helpful distraction from your own turmoil.
- Practice Self-Care – Be intentional about getting the proper amount of sleep, exercise, food and rest in order to increase your ability to cope. Nurture yourself by practicing self-compassion and gratitude. Resist the temptation to medicate your pain or impulsively engage in destructive behavior, as this will only create more problems overtime.
- Allow Yourself to Feel Happiness – Your emotions will vacillate, to say the least, during this time. Allow yourself to feel and process all of your emotions during the holidays, including happiness. Embrace those happy moments and be grateful for them.
Porsha Jones, LMFT
Pjones @ GROWcounseling.com