“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve can heighten feelings of sadness for some. For those that are newly separated or divorced, the holidays can accentuate the fact that they are not where they thought they would be at this time in their lives.
The reality is, the firsts after a divorce or loss suck. The first anniversary, the first birthday, the first holiday season. And wouldn’t you know it, here we are, “Happy Holidays”.
It can be challenging to not reflect on the life you once had, especially during specific times of the year. Throughout the holidays, unless you lock yourself in a closet, there is no way to avoid being exposed to the ads, social media posts, movies, and messages that highlight this being “The most wonderful time of year”.
You may not be able to get around all of the loneliness or sadness during the holidays, but there can be a balance of allowing yourself to feel grief, paired with doing things to keep moving forward.
4 Tips for surviving the holidays after a divorce
- Stop putting pressure on yourself:
Forcing yourself to do what you “think” you should be doing doesn’t work. Give yourself permission to “enjoy” this holiday season how you choose.
- If you need to cry, do it.
- If you need to be alone, turn down the invite.
- If you want to be around friends and family, call them up.
There are no rules that say you have to do XYZ. Your stress and sadness can be reduced if you stop putting pressure on yourself to do what you think is expected. Do what is best for your mental health, which might be the oppositive of what everyone expects you should do—that is ok! Don’t let others guilt you into taking on more than you can handle.
What traditions to hang on to and what ones to let go of doesn’t have to be decided this year. You might stop doing something for a while, but then bring it back. What you do this year, doesn’t have to be what you do next year. If there is a tradition that you want to do and it’s not hurting you emotionally to continue to do it, then there is no reason you must force yourself to stop doing something you and your ex did together. But why not add in something this year you have never done. Change it up just a little, even if you keep some things the same.
The holidays are about giving to others, but don’t forget to give to yourself. Give yourself the gift of self-care. I know it can be difficult to practice self-care when you’re feeling deflated and depressed—but the truth is, doing little things can help!
I’m not telling you that you should book a spa day (but hey, if you are down for that then yes my friend do that). My suggestion is that you don’t forget YOU right now. My free e-book gives you a great list of 7 self-care tips to practice without getting overwhelmed when you are navigating a challenging time in your life—but today, let’s just start with little things, like showering and moving your body!
Exercise is amazing medicine and one of my favorite forms of self-care, but it can seem daunting when you are functioning on a few hours a sleep and emotionally exhausted. I’m not suggesting a 5-mile run, start with a walk around the block. Getting your heartrate up is a scientifically proven way to combat the negative effects of stress on your mind.
Let yourself have a day (or two) in bed, but then let’s get up, take that walk, shower, and brush your teeth, voilà—self-care at its finest!
- Don’t drink those blues away:
Let’s be honest, you are most likely going to have that eggnog or glass of wine, let’s just try your best to not overdo it. Alcohol is a depressant and can enhance those feelings of sadness. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a holiday cocktail, just be mindful of your emotions when you indulge. Do your best to not use food, sex or alcohol to deal with your sadness this time of year. It will just leave you feeling bloated, guilty and probably hung over the next day.
These might seem like straightforward suggestions, but they can be difficult to adhere to when you believe you are “supposed” to be feeling, or acting, or doing things a certain way this time of year.
The sadness is expected, but remember you still get to choose how you approach the holidays. Your life might not be exactly where you’d like it to be right now, but this is part of the transition into your next chapter—one that is difficult, but necessary (and healing) as you keep moving forward.
A new year is just around the corner. Not that everything resets when the clock strikes midnight. But after you wipe your tears away, allow yourself to get a little excited about what the new year and your new chapter will bring.
Remember, You Got This!
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