Most people dread that first set of holidays after a divorce. If you have kids and they will be with you for the holidays, the loss of your partner might be a bit easier to tolerate. However, if you are the spouse who won’t have your kids on this first Christmas, the day may be feeling like a depressing, yawning gap before you.
On Your Own: The top 3 ways to manage your first Christmas after Divorce.
Preparation is key. You may not feel like making plans, but being alone tends to fuel the flames of sadness. Your old traditions will be different. What now?
Identify a place to be during key holiday events and hours.
If your ex and your kids will be at your in-laws where you always spent Christmas day, you need an alternative. Identify a family member or friend with whom you can spend time. Being with someone else’s family might feel worse than being alone.
Find that person in your life who is also untethered for the holidays. Invite them over for a drink or a bite. If that friend or family member who is available lives far away, plan a movie watching time together where you watch the same movie at the same time and can stop and discuss or just talk about it afterward. Or, plan a phone or Skype time with them. Any of these interactions will give even a slight boost of feel better chemicals in your brain.
Do something to help someone else.
Find a food pantry or soup kitchen where you can volunteer your time. Doing something kind for someone else boosts activity in the pleasure centers of the brain. While you may not feel great, you will likely feel better and you will have contributed to the greater good.
If you must spend most or all of the day alone, plan something enjoyable for yourself.
You may be used to caring for everyone else and can’t imagine what will feel enjoyable to you. Keep it simple. Plan your day in advance. The day before, make sure you have your favorite beverage and something yummy for breakfast. Perhaps you’ll buy a scone or an exceptional fruit plate from your favorite spot. Start your day with a treat. Do the same for lunch and dinner. Heating up a frozen entrée may be all you can do, but if you can do more for yourself, you will likely feel better. During the day itself, identify a book you have been wanting to dive into or a movie you have been looking forward to seeing. Go see it, download it, spend the money on yourself that day.
Keep in mind that Christmas is one day.
While Christmas is an important day to many, it remains a 24 hour period of time. Think about other days you will spend with the one’s you love and other events you might look forward to in the coming year.
You can do this!
Lean into those who care about you and take good care of yourself. Christmas is a day, but the next part of your life is a marathon. You need yourself to be in the best emotional shape possible. And don’t be afraid to seek out a therapist who will be available to just let you say whatever needs to be said and who can help you put the pieces back together.
Wishing you the best holidays you can have and a new year with a renewed you.