7 Tips to cope with Christmas if you are newly separated or divorced.

If you are facing your first Christmas newly separated or divorced you may well be feeling an overwhelming sense of dread.  It is the time of year when loneliness can become more of an issue and negative feelings of being single and alone come to the fore.    Whether your breakup was friendly or highly conflicted Christmas is a time when the life changing events of divorce really hits you and can cause a high level of stress, particularly when there are children involved.

So here are 7 tips to help you cope:

  1. Manage your expectations Acknowledge that Christmas this year will not be the same as in the past but positively decide how you would like to celebrate Christmas this year.  The first year I was divorced I decided not to have a tree or decorations, I just could not bring myself to as the thought of seeing decorations that would evoke negative memories of happier Christmas times. So follow your instinct and do not feel pressured into pretending all is the same. It’s not.  Allow yourself to plan Christmas the way you now choose.
  2. Be realistic about money and don’t spend more than you should. Christmas isn’t about things. Overspending eventually results in more stress and it’s not a competition with your ex as to who buys the children the most presents.
  3. Make me time and allow yourself to relax. Give yourself permission to chill. Make a commitment to yourself to do things you find relaxing. If you get anxious pause, take a deep breath and relax.
  4. Do not allow yourself to be lonely – you may choose to be alone but you do not have to be lonely even if you decide to.  It is an attitude that you can control, instead take the opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do.  If you decide to spend time with others make sure they are supportive, do not choose to spend time with people who are too emotionally invested in your breakup.  They can trigger negative thoughts or reminisce of Christmas past or just want to talk divorce.  You can always volunteer to help a charity at Christmas this is a good way to distract yourself whilst helping others less fortunate and it also can put your issues in perspective too.
  5. Christmas and Children – keep them out of the cross fire – it’s a time for the children to enjoy and experience the magic of Christmas not for parents to score points.  If the children are old enough let them decide where they want to spend Christmas.  Never let them feel that they are guilty for choosing.  If they are smaller make sure you agree well in advance who has the children and when. Put the children first.  Remember you can also make two Christmas days by nominating another day and the children will love that.  Ensure that all grandparents are still involved in Christmas with the children.
  6. Call a truce with your ex – Be cordial with your ex over the holidays for the sake of the children.
  7. Create new traditions, together with your children or on your own – Making new traditions this year will make Christmas next year easier and will not negatively remind you of the past. Involve the children in brainstorming how to make new traditions if they are old enough.  If you are alone you may even decide to go away.  Health spas are a great way to escape, they give you me time and you will not be surrounded by couples who make you mourn that you are now alone.