The holidays tend to be a fairly hectic time for most people: holiday gatherings, activities with your kids, work-related parties, and rushing to meet your end of year goals. When you throw a divorce in the mix…well, the holidays can become overwhelming. They don’t have to be, though – and with the right team by your side and the right coping strategies at your fingertips, they’ll be a lot easier to manage.
At Diamond Divorce Law, we are committed to helping our clients navigate each step of their divorce so they can reclaim their lives. Our experienced legal and support teams are here to help you – just reach out.
Over the past 40+ years, we have helped hundreds of families in McHenry, Lake, and Kane Counties navigate their divorces and custody arrangements. Because we know the holidays can be a challenge during and after divorce, we’d like to offer some tips to help.
Acknowledge and Accept New Emotions
During a divorce, you’ll go through a lot of changes in nearly every area of your life. From your finances and parenting time to your schedule and daily habits, each change is likely to bring emotions – and some of them will be strong ones.
You might be tempted to shove those emotions down in order to “just keep going,” but it’s important to acknowledge them, especially during already stressful or hectic times. It’s normal to feel sadness, grief, and even anger after a divorce; give yourself permission to work through these feelings instead of pushing them down.
For example, you might find yourself feeling nostalgic for holiday traditions you shared with your ex-spouse. This is natural – but instead of pushing them away, take some time to acknowledge and accept them. Then, remind yourself that it’s part of the healing journey and allow yourself to begin the process of turning the holidays back into a source of joy.
Creating New Holiday Traditions
While you may come across holiday traditions that you miss, you also have the opportunity to create new traditions. This can be a powerful way to find new sources of joy during the holiday season. If you have kids, involve them in the process – you’ll be amazed at the ideas they come up with and the joy they find in the simplest of things!
For example, if you used to decorate the Christmas tree with your ex, consider starting a new tradition with your children. Let them take the lead in selecting and decorating the tree. Visit a favorite shop and pick out new ornaments together (bonus if you personalize them!). This not only gives you and your kids a sense of ownership and excitement for your new traditions, it also allows you to create new memories that are separate from your past.
You can also explore new activities or outings that you and your children can enjoy together during the holiday season. We’re lucky to live in an area where there are many to choose from every year! Whether you choose to go ice skating, watch holiday movies, find fun new shops to explore, or volunteer as a family, these new traditions can bring a sense of joy and togetherness that can help you through the holidays.
Setting Boundaries and Communication
While you’re finding ways to heal and reclaim your life, you may find it necessary to set boundaries with your friends and family in order to protect your emotional well-being. This will often involve communicating your needs and expectations to others, especially when it comes to discussing your divorce. (This somehow tends to pop up more often than not during holiday get-togethers.)
You might find it helpful to prepare a quick script or plan in advance for how you will respond when people ask you uncomfortable questions. This will allow you to navigate these conversations with grace and confidence.
It’s also important to realize that not everyone will be aware of your divorce (or your mental state) during the holiday season. Loved ones might unintentionally bring up painful topics or ask uncomfortable questions. By finding ways to set boundaries and communicate your needs, you can protect yourself from awkward situations.
For instance, if you prefer not to discuss your divorce, you can politely redirect the conversation or gently let the person know it’s not a topic you prefer to discuss. That’s often all it takes. Doing so can help you keep from feeling overwhelmed during a get-together and make the gathering a happy one for everyone (including you).
Practicing Self-Care and Self-Compassion
This is a big one, but it’s a necessity that many of us overlook, especially when things get busy. You can make self-care a priority by participating in activities that bring you joy or help you recharge.
This can be something as big as taking a class or picking up a hobby that you’ve been wanting to try, or as small as sipping a cup of coffee while reading a favorite book or taking a walk in the woods.
Self-care can seem selfish, especially when you’re busy, but it’s actually a vital part of healing and rebuilding your life. By taking care of yourself and giving yourself time to decompress and heal, you will be better equipped to be present for your kids and handle the challenges that might arise during the holiday season.
In addition to taking time out to do things you enjoy, remember to be intentional about the foundational things like getting enough sleep, eating nourishing meals, and getting regular exercise. You’ll be amazed by how big a difference self-care makes!
Seeking Support from Loved Ones and Professionals
Above all, don’t be afraid to seek support from family, friends, and professionals during the holidays during and after your divorce. Being able to openly communicate with people you trust, people who can provide emotional and professional support, can be incredibly helpful.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope during the holidays, don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones or a therapist. (If you need a recommendation for a local therapist, let us know – we’re happy to help!) Sharing your feelings and experiences with others who can empathize can give you the boost you need.
In addition to seeking emotional support, reach out to professionals in your community who primarily focus on various areas of divorce. At Diamond Divorce Law, our experienced team is committed to walking you through each step of your divorce. We’ll not only handle the legal needs, we’ll also guide you through what to expect at each stage so that you can be prepared – and if you need to be put in touch with other local professionals (like financial advisers), we can help point you in the right direction.
Call us today – we’ll listen, answer your questions, and help you put a plan together to move forward.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes and is only applicable in the state of Illinois. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.
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