Christmas is a stressful time of year for everyone, even more so for divorcees who may be spending the holidays alone for the first time in their lives.
Despite the stress and strain of the festive period, Christmas is ultimately about spending time with loved ones and spreading festive cheer (and the food, of course).
But some aren’t fortunate enough to be surrounded by their nearest and dearest, and for newly divorced couples it can often be a hard reality to face.
With this in mind, let’s look at 4 top tips that will help every divorcee survive the Christmas period.
Don’t Spend Christmas Alone
At the top of the list for obvious reasons, it is important that you don’t spend the holidays alone. You should make the effort to surround yourself with family and friends who care about you.
Understandably, you may be not be feeling very cheery after the breakdown of your marriage, but surrounding yourself with family and friends that care about you will go a long way in lifting your spirits.
Even if visiting your loved ones on Christmas Day isn’t practical, you should still make the effort to see family and friends. You could get in touch with old school friends and arrange a reunion or simply catch up with a trusted family member and talk to them about how you’re dealing with divorce.
Simply put, try not to isolate yourself at Christmas. Just because you’re facing a tough time it doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty for letting loose and embracing single life again.
If this is your first Christmas alone post-divorce, then festivities can often feel overwhelming. The stress of your divorce paired with general Christmas madness can leave you screaming into the abyss, but having a little patience (both with yourself and those around you) can make the world of difference.
If you feel as if your emotions are building up and up and up, ready to explode at any minute, then taking time out to focus on your wellbeing is an absolute must. It can be difficult to come to terms with your relationship breakdown and seeing other couples happy at Christmas sometimes heightens these emotions.
Remove yourself from the situations making you unhappy, go into an unoccupied and quiet room, take time to breathe and calm yourself down.
Meditation has also proven helpful when dealing with trauma and meditation techniques can help to promote serenity. Being patient with yourself rather than letting your emotions get the better of you can save you a lot of regret and stress in the future.
Make New Traditions
With marriage often comes children, and divorce will play a huge part in how Christmas traditions change for them once their parents separate. Of course some things will change as a result of your divorce, but making the most of a bad situation for the sake of your children is in everyone’s best interests.
You can introduce some new fun festive traditions for your children such as two different Christmas Days, one with mum and one with dad.You should also communicate with your ex-partner and come to an agreement regarding who the children spend Christmas with.
Above all, you should put the needs of your children before your own. You may desperately want to spend Christmas day with them but arguing with your ex-partner about custody rights could upset your children and ruin the magical season. You should try to compromise, and if you can’t see your children until a few days after Christmas, try and make the time spent together as special as possible.
Help those Less Fortunate
As a divorcee you can feel like the most unfortunate person in the world, and whilst your sadness at this difficult time is completely justified, it can often help to put things in perspective by helping those less fortunate than yourself.
Christmas is supposed to be about spreading cheer and love, and what better way to do that than to volunteer throughout the festive period. If you find yourself alone this Christmas, then creating new traditions and helping those in need is a great way to make the most of the holiday season.
Volunteering at Christmas time is a win-win – you get to help those less fortunate and at the same time distract yourself from your own troubling personal circumstances by surrounding yourself with new and like-minded friends.
Now that’s a lot to take in, especially when your head has been left spinning thanks to divorce proceedings and frantic Christmas planning – so instead of overwhelming yourself, why not try to bear in mind one or two top tips throughout the festive season. And you never know, a change in tradition could be the best thing that’s happened to you!
Kerry Smith is the head of family law at K J Smith Solicitors, a specialist family law firm who deal with a wide range of issues including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships and prenuptial agreements.