The first holiday season following a separation can be daunting and full of uncertainty, but it can also be a transformative opportunity. Whether you are childless or co-parenting, you can enjoy some holiday cheer as you approach the situation with an open mind. Honoring how you feel will be an important part of the process, just as curiosity and enthusiasm can make a positive difference for you and your loved ones.
#1 Spend Time with Your Loved Ones (Yes, This Includes Friends and Pets)
Isolating may be tempting when you’re dealing with the stress of separation and aren’t in the mood to be festive. Spending time at home by yourself and/or with your pets can energize you but making time to socialize even if it’s one on one with a family member or a friend is important for your wellbeing. This will help you get out of your head and have fun.
In-person interaction is a fantastic option, whether you get to travel, host friends from out of town, or enjoy local outings with your family. You don’t have to accept all invitations if you need time to recharge by yourself but say yes to some social opportunities: it will help alleviate some of your stress and inspire a festive mood.
If the loved ones you want to hang out with are not local, and you are unable to visit, make the best of digital communication. It can take the shape of a virtual game night, a video chat, or watching a movie together remotely. Making the best of the options you have available will help to create holiday cheer.
#2 Cooperate with Your Co-Parent (No Matter Your Child’s Age)
The first holiday season after a separation is different for both you and your children. Being patient and communicating openly can help all of you as you navigate this new situation. Focusing on your child’s enjoyment of the holiday makes a big difference. Cooperating with your ex may not be what you want to do in the moment, but showing compassion and extending olive branches can help your children process their feelings and emotions about the separation. Juggling two sets of relatives can now be more challenging as well, but ensuring your child gets to spend time with all those they love is a smart approach to build their resiliency and your co-parenting relationship.
If you have adult children, they do not need to follow visitation schedules anymore, but creating a welcoming environment is still important. When you’re willing to accommodate their wishes as they divide time between you and their other parent, it creates healthy family dynamics. Adult siblings may not choose to spend specific holidays with the same parent. Remember that you can always choose to celebrate a specific holiday on a different day. A double celebration can be a good way to create family time more easily, no matter how old your child is.
#3 Simplify Your Holiday Traditions (Or Create New Ones)
Separation is likely to impact your holiday traditions and is a good opportunity for you to reevaluate them. Which ones did you partake in mostly for your previous partner’s sake? Are there any you would like to tweak? Do you wish to stop including some in your celebrations? Now is a good time to simplify and change things up!
If some traditions were important to your kids, there may be leeway for adjustment so both you and your children can enjoy them. And whether you have a child or not, you can create new holiday traditions that make you happy. It’s okay and fun to start planning for the season early and figure out what you want to continue doing, what you are going to change, and what new rituals you could try out this year. Trying new things is a good way to figure out what could become a new holiday tradition. It’s okay to pick just one thing or a few depending on how you feel. Holiday traditions are supposed to be fun, not overwhelming, so think of what would bring you joy.
#4 Take a Break from Social Media (Be Present in the Moment)
Social media can easily lead to the comparison game and take a toll on your mental health, especially if you are already feeling down. Rather than scrolling endlessly through Facebook or Instagram, make a conscious decision to delete triggering apps from your phone, at least for a few days. Removing the pressure of keeping up with whatever you see from friends or influencers on social media can help you stay grounded in the moment.
Separation can leave you upset and struggling to find joy. Avidly consuming social media, which generally features highlight reels of family reunions and happy couples, especially at this time of the year, can take a toll on your emotions. Even when you know that social media is just a curated representation of some people’s lives, choosing to distance yourself can help.
Whether you delete the apps for a few days or longer is completely up to you, but by spending less time scrolling, you will be more present in your life. Whenever you catch sparks of happiness, you can cultivate them rather than thinking of how they may compare to other people’s pictures.
#5 Take Care of Your Health (Mental and Physical)
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season is important, especially as the stress caused by your separation likely makes you more susceptible to getting sick. Don’t skip on getting your flu shot or any other routine checkups you need to schedule. The better you take care of yourself, the more you can enjoy life. You can still enjoy the holiday treats and a couple of nice drinks while eating a mostly balanced diet. Exercising also boosts your physical and mental condition. You may even enjoy some strolls in the colder weather and why not a good snowball fight with your loved ones?
Tending to your emotional well-being also impacts your holiday season. Choosing gratitude and an abundance mindset where you focus on the good in your life can increase your happiness. It doesn’t mean ignoring the difficult emotions that come up. It’s healthy to accept them and move through them, whether in the quiet of your home cuddling with your pet or spending time with others. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends and family, or even to a spiritual counselor, a therapist, or a support group. Taking care of your mental health is a year-round job and being proactive about it can significantly improve your holiday season. Whether you feel more introverted or extroverted, asking for help and support when you need it is important and can make a difference.
If you need legal guidance during a separation or divorce in La Mesa, CA, call us at The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider today at (619) 304-8499!