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The holidays can be a hectic, wonderful, memory-filled time. Everyone’s hustling and bustling, picking out the perfect gifts and planning special meals.
But your first holiday season post-divorce can also be full of pain, loneliness, and even a little regret.
Even if you’ve felt completely content and at peace with your divorce, the reminders of what was, what isn’t anymore, and what will never be again can rear their ugly heads. Traditions that had become an ingrained part of your holidays are just gone, and along with it may be time with your children or other family members you love.
While there may not be any way to avoid some of the sadness you’ll feel during your first holiday season after your divorce, here are 5 tips to make your first single holiday season more bearable:
Just because you’ve been invited to an event doesn’t mean you have to attend, especially if it’s going to bring up painful reminders or put you in the same room with your ex. And just because someone is family doesn’t mean they get to rehash every last thing your ex said on social media.
Decide where your hard-and-fast boundaries are (Don’t want to attend that friend’s holiday gathering because you know there will be too many common acquaintances? Would rather not hear stories that involve your ex?) and make them known. Most people will respect a boundary once one’s been set, but this gives you the opportunity to bow out of an event if you begin to feel uncomfortable and your boundary has been crossed.
Make New Traditions
Sure, your new single holiday season will likely look a lot different than your married one did. Some events will be off-limits, and you’ll find yourself painfully reminded of what used to be by certain traditions. Look at your new status as an opportunity to get rid of old traditions and start brand new ones!
Who says you need to have a fancy dinner on Christmas night? Why not just get some frozen pizzas, cuddle up with the kids and some hot chocolate, and enjoy a Christmas movie marathon? Or, instead of that giant fir tree, opt for a fun artificial white tree that you can decorate with bold red and blue ornaments.
You’ll all have so much fun finding new ways to celebrate that you may get through the season with barely a thought of the old.
Focusing on someone else and their needs is a great way to help you manage your sadness and pain. Local food banks, homeless shelters, and even schools likely host a variety of activities for those in need during the holidays. You may find yourself preparing a holiday meal, sorting donated toys, or delivering baskets of food to families.
This is a great way to fill up any time you’re without your children, or even to get them involved in something that isn’t all about shopping and gifting.
Protect Your Health
It can be easy, especially during the busy holiday season, to let yourself indulge in all the good food an alcohol. And, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself or are missing the way holidays used to be, the temptation to numb those feelings can be strong.
But if you overindulge in anything – sugar, alcohol, or heavy foods – your mental state and feelings of loneliness can intensify instead of getting better. Rather than self-medicating, focus on maintaining your health during the holiday season.
Be sure to eat as balanced a diet as possible, but still indulge on occasion. Take time to get in some exercise. Drink plenty of water, especially if you’re having some drinks at that dinner party. And, if you’re still in a bad head space, talk to a counselor or trusted advisor about your feelings. Getting some outside perspective can really help.
Getting out and socializing can be difficult, especially when your emotions make you just want to curl up on the couch. However, isolating yourself is going to have the opposite effect and can make your feelings of sadness worse.
Instead, RSVP a “yes” to as many social events as you feel comfortable attending, especially at times when your children will be with your ex. If you need to, bring a trusted friend or family member along with you as a “date” so you have someone to talk to even if you’re feeling awkward. Netflix and that glass of wine can wait!
Experienced Divorce Representation in Washington, D.C.
Divorce can be tough no matter the season. That’s why you need a compassionate, experienced attorney on your side every step of the way. At Lopez Law Firm, we work with clients getting divorced in Washington, D.C., and help them navigate the sometimes complex process. Schedule your consultation today!