Navigating the Holidays During a Divorce

December has been designated as “Stress-Free Family Holidays Month.” While it may seem impossible to combine the terms “stress-free,” “family,” and “holidays” all in the same sentence, it is possible to reduce your level of anxiety during the Holiday Season, even when you are going through something as traumatic as a divorce.

Let Go of Expectations and Eliminate Potential Problems

You know those ads with the family clustered around the perfect Christmas tree? They are all actors and the settings are fake. Even if you have memories of ideal holidays in the past, do not allow yourself to feel pressured into recreating that experience. The expectations around the holidays can be impossible to live up to in the best of times, and divorce is certainly not one of those. Let go of any and all expectations for the holidays and look for joy in small moments.

Another way to reduce stress is to make sure you have the bases covered so you won’t suddenly find yourself worrying about details at 3:00 in the morning. Work with an experienced divorce attorney whom you can count on to let you know if there is a deadline coming up. Consult with a financial professional to determine how much you can safely spend during the holidays. If you have kids, work out the schedule for parenting time in advance, but also create a backup plan in case your ex throws you a curveball.

Suggestions for Keeping Up Your Spirits During Divorce Over the Holidays

While it is important not to overload yourself during the holiday season, it is also a good idea to make some plans so that you don’t find yourself brooding over changes from the past. Actions that have helped others navigate the holidays during divorce include:

  • Acknowledging your sense of loss while avoiding things that send you on a trip down memory lane. This is probably not the best time to go through photos or ornaments you made with your children.
  • Developing new traditions. Visit that holiday train display or live nativity scene or watch the Christmas parade, maybe try a holiday concert.
  • Scheduling time to be with family and friends. These moments are the ones that mean most during the holidays and any time of year.
  • Volunteering or finding another way to help those less fortunate. Not only will you make it easier for someone else to navigate the holidays, but it’s also a good reminder of the things for which you should be grateful.
  • Maintaining holiday traditions that are important to you, even if you have to do it in a different way. For instance, if you always watch “Elf” with your kids on Christmas Eve but will be separated from them this year, you might plan to watch the movie the day after. On Christmas Eve, enjoy a different movie with someone else, anticipating the upcoming time with your kids.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Others for Help When You’re Going Through Divorce

Divorce takes you down a lonely road where it can be hard to know which way to turn. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who have been down the road before or who regularly help others navigate the twists and turns.

Your divorce lawyer has probably had more experience in dealing with divorce issues over the holidays. If you’re having trouble negotiating a schedule with your ex, your attorney could help resolve conflicts and put your worries to rest.

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