The holiday season is considered to be a time of happiness, good times, family gatherings and wonderful memories. However, the thought of the holiday season can also be a painful and stressful time for families that may be going through a divorce. The thought of the approaching holiday season may lead to feelings of depression, anger and anxiety. The good news is that the holidays don’t have to be a time of despair. Learning a few simple coping skills can turn your holiday blues into a time of new traditions and experiences for your family.
- Establish New Family Traditions — Family traditions do not have to be abandoned because the family has changed. If repeating previously practiced traditions are too painful for the family, create new ones that the family will be more comfortable with following.
- Support Your Children and Their Feelings — Be sure to acknowledge that even the youngest members of the family may have feelings of anxiety about a new way of doing things in the home. Encourage the children to discuss their feelings and fears. Have the children brainstorm different traditions that they would like the family to begin practicing.
- Build a Support System — A support system can be essential to coping through difficult times. Your family and friends can provide you with companionship during times of loneliness, a sense of understanding and a shoulder to cry on.
- Take Care of Your Health and Well-Being — It is essential that you get enough rest and eat healthy. Failure to take care of your health will only make you feel more stressed and anxious about the holidays. Enroll in an exercise class, get a massage or volunteer. Participate in anything that will keep your mind off your stresses.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open — Being available for communication with the other parent will make the new transitions easier. Positive interaction between parents will provide a sense of stability and security for the children while they are adapting to new ways of doing things.
- Prioritize Your Time — Avoid stretching yourself too thin during this holiday time. Steer clear of accepting invitations to events or gatherings that will leave you feeling uncomfortable or depressed. It is okay to decline to attend events. Creating your own traditions and customs will be a healthy way to get back into a regular routine.
- Remain Focused on the Importance of the Holiday Season — Although the absence of a spouse will be a difficult time for all family members, this time does not have to be a time of despair. By maintaining a positive outlook, a very difficult situation can be made easier. Surround yourself with family and friends who will be supportive and understanding. If the holiday season brings about a severe bout of depression and anxiety, do not hesitate seek professional counseling. For more information or specific resources in your area, please contact PAL at 1-866-962-3030.