Holidays can be stressful as it is, but celebrating any holiday after divorce is especially taxing.  You’re forced to face family and friends and engage in emotionally difficult conversations that you may not be ready to handle just yet. The reality of being divorced becomes even clearer when you don’t get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with your children because of the visitation schedule with the other parent.  If you are in a similar position, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Don’t go through this time period alone!

Although it may be tempting to curl up in your bed and isolate yourself from everyone around you, don’t. This will force you to spend time alone with your thoughts and endure the emotional pain all by yourself. Instead, try to get out there and make plans with your friends, co-workers, or family members. Perhaps spend some time volunteering or maybe join a support group. This is not to say that you don’t need some time alone – you very will might. But don’t turn into a ghost of Christmas past. Surrounding yourself with bright faces and jolly attitudes will keep you occupied and focused on the positive.

  1. Plan ahead

For the sake of your sanity, do not wait until last minute to figure out the logistics—especially if children are involved. It’s very important to communicate and cooperate with your former spouse in advance to avoid conflict. Take time to figure out visitation schedules and gift exchanges. If the children are old enough, get them involved in the decision-making process as well.  If you don’t have children or if your former partner has them for the holidays, then figure out fun activities for yourself. Plan a shopping day, go see a movie with a friend, or enjoy a night out with your co-workers – whatever makes you happy. The busier you stay, the less time you will have to dwell on the past.

  1. Form new traditions

One of hardest parts of spending holidays after the divorce is letting go of old traditions that you shared with your ex-spouse. It’s difficult to cope with the idea that what once used to be such an exciting moment in your life is now a mere memory. But instead of remembering the old, change your perspective and transition into something new.  If you always used to spend Christmas with your ex’s side of the family, maybe try celebrating with your own family or a group of your closest friends. You might want to consider taking a trip somewhere—preferably somewhere you haven’t been with your ex- spouse. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a nice getaway? It is also important to focus on your children and realize that they might be going through a difficult adjustment just like you. Think about starting a new tradition with your children so the effect of split holidays isn’t as daunting on them. Bottom line, this isn’t the time reminisce on the past, it’s time to focus on the future.

  1. Cut yourself some slack!

Remember, there is no perfect way to handle this time of year after you just divorced.  Realistically, you might get emotional and feel overwhelmed at times, and that’s okay. After all, you’re only human.  Don’t go hard on yourself if you don’t have the most wonderful time of your life during your first holidays as newly single. Accept the difficulty that you may face during this time of year and understand that this is an adjustment process. It can only get better from here!

  1. Make resolutions

Set new goals, make new resolutions, and leave the stress and tears behind! You’ve had a tough year, but it’s time to focus on what’s ahead.  Take up a new hobby, meet new people, and invest time in something you’ve always wanted to experience but maybe never had a chance to in the past. This will help shift your focus away from the negative, and with every small accomplishment, boost your morale! Most importantly, stay optimistic and embrace the spirit of the holiday season! There is always a reason to be grateful.