Your first Christmas or other major holiday after divorce can be tough, and it will no doubt be different. I still remember my first Christmas without my child. I was able to negotiate having my child for the very first Christmas after divorce, but the second one was without my child, and it was a whopper. The first holiday without our children provokes a special circle of emotions. It was, frankly, awful. However, I am proof you can survive the first one and learn how to thrive for many more after. The key is finding the tools which help you cope and creating new routines.
So, my friend, if you’re going through this, I really feel for you right now. It will get better (I know, it doesn’t feel like it, but it will) and hopefully these resources for getting through your first holiday after divorce will help.
Tools to Cope
While it may sound silly, coping tools, in my experience, really do work. I’ve tried many different tools and have found some to be more beneficial than other.
First, be kind to yourself. This is a new affair and it’s tough. If you notice negative self-talk tell that voice to kindly shut up, go away and leave you alone. That voice is a lie. You are a survivor. You have this. You deserve a little self-care. Bubble baths, naps, facials, massages, quiet time – do what you can to provide yourself with a little self-care on a regular basis.
When circumstances around me are spinning out of control, grounding myself in reality is very helpful. It provides a level of safety and security when I cannot control the circumstances or people around me. I do this by connecting to my physical surroundings. Standing in the grass barefoot and focusing on the feel of the grass, counting the number of legs on chairs in the room, focusing on the physical shape of objects or touching something hot or cold in the room are all examples of grounding tools I have used.
Journaling is another tool I have used over the years which has proven helpful. I had a special chair in my bedroom which was soft and comfortable during and after my divorce. I would read an inspirational saying or daily book of quotes and then journal about how those quotes applied to me. I would also just start writing some days. When life was really stressful, I commited to journaling at least 10 minutes per morning. Some days I started off by writing, “I’m having the feeling of…..”. Journaling not only helped me unpack my emotions, it helped me sort through what I wanted and needed. Some journaling entries were vents, some were profound, and some were just silly.
When I am in stress, deep breathing really helps. I use the breathing I learned in yoga class – deep breathing in the nose and out of the mouth. Count to 5 on the breathe in, hold for a count of 3 and then exhale for a count of 5. I use my apple watch a lot which actually tells me when my heart rate is elevated and tells me to breathe. If my watch is not on and I’m feeling anxious, stressed or scared, taking two minutes to breathe helps me relax, calm down and focus.
I would not have been able to survive divorce without my friends. I had 6 women on speed dial and I called them daily for a while. If all of your friends were from your married life, I encourage you to reach out to groups where you can make new friends. There are multiple groups for divorce recovery, one is DivorceCare.org. I personally went to this and found it very helpful. I also reconnected with friends from my past who I knew were single. Lastly, Divorce Recovery for Women is another resource specifically for women after divorce to help them connect, learn and thrive.
Even if you have great friends, reaching out to others in your same phase of life for support and encouragement can be very helpful. We do life better together and walking through one of the most difficult things in life is better done with others by your side.
Professional Therapy or Life Coach
Going to therapy or a life coach also has proven very beneficial in my life. I went to therapy for 2 years during and after my divorce, and on and off since then. I’ve received so many good tips tools and walked through how to build my own self esteem in therapy. I also learned why I picked the men I did, and how to change my “picker”.
A healthy routine of eating well and exercise is another great coping tool. We all know we should do it, but really doing it is important especially during stressful times. I joined hot yoga when I was in the divorce process and it was so helpful. I have also joined other group exercise classes or just ran on mu own. The best thing I found was to create a routine, so my body knew what to expect each day and when as far as working out, eating and working.
How to Share with Family, Friends and Co-Workers
Talking to your friends, family and coworkers about your divorce, especially if it is recent, is something you will no doubt have to deal with. Be prepared for this. Having a script prepared will allow you to present only what you want when talking about your divorce. Decide what you do and don’t want to share, prepare a script and follow it. I had a standard script for why the divorce happened, how I am doing and my thoughts on dating again. These are the three main topics I was repeatedly asked about so I had a set script for each. This helped me move on and avoid saying anything I would later regret.
Social media is inherent to our days, as much as breathing or drinking water it seems! So, before you post that rant or that picture…think long and hard about it! Make sure that you’re keeping your social media usage reasonable, so you don’t have to explain anything or show pictures to anyone that you don’t want.
I hope you find courage, peace, and joy in these tough times. You can do this! We are here to help. If you would like help finding a support group or getting your life in order contact us. We are happy to help you. We get it, we’ve been there. If you are a woman we also encourage you to check out Divorce Recovery for Women for helpful information, workshops and meet ups with other women in your life circumstance.