Highlights
  • The holiday season can already be a stressful time of year, but a breakup or divorce added to the mix creates a lonely, difficult situation for the newly single.
  • Breaking up around the holidays might happen for a few reasons: One or both partners may feel like there’s no point in continuing the relationship into the new year.
  • Other things, like spending time around each other’s family or traveling together may seem unbearable to do with someone they no longer have feelings for.
  • Coping with a breakup during the holiday season takes some finesse, and it’s important to navigate feelings of loneliness as they arise, post-breakup.
  • Because social circles can often become entangled during a relationship, your support network might significantly shrink after you and your partner separate. Finding a way to support yourself if you’re feeling isolated afterward is important.
  • To start healing in the short term, take advantage of video chatting opportunities with loved ones, look for local volunteer work, and plan a mini vacation for yourself. Find a gift for yourself, too.

It sounds like a bad dream, but experiencing a breakup during the holiday season is common. The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year, as we scramble to arrange our travel plans, find the perfect gifts, and try not to clash with all the different personalities in our family. 

When a breakup or divorce is thrown into the mix, it may leave you feeling abandoned. The holidays can be a rough time of year for many people, and those who are going through any kind of separation from someone they care about should take extra time and effort to alleviate the feelings of isolation and sadness that might feel overwhelming—here are some ways to do just that. 

Why Might Holiday Breakups Occur?

Though cuffing season is definitely a thing, the winter months are also an infamous time for breakups to occur. If you’re going through a holiday season breakup, some causes for your relationship ending might include: 

  • A lack of space between you and your partner. With colder weather and festivities setting in, this often translates into more time spent indoors together. If you both were having issues with one another before the holidays began, they may have become aggravated by these factors. 
  • Feelings that your partner had been hiding for some time. Consider the mounting pressure caused by holiday events, planning, and more. If your partner was feeling on the fence about your relationship, they may have gotten the urge to make a clean break before having to deal with everything else on their plate, too. 
  • Something entirely unrelated to your actions or words. Forming a relationship isn’t just about ourselves and the person we care about; we also choose to become a part of their circle of family and friends. If you remained open and friendly to their connections, but never felt accepted, that’s a red flag—and probably not your fault, so let it go.  
  • Weather-related mood changes: It’s been noted that some individuals experience relationship difficulties during the gloomy, cold winter months. Waning amounts of sunlight, low levels of vitamin D, or undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder (SAD) might create mixed or negative feelings in those who are already going through difficulties in their relationship. 

Whatever the reasons for the breakup were, going over what has already happened won’t help, Focusing on you is the best way to start healing. Though it’s okay to be curious, hurt, or even angry (for a little while), those feelings need to be processed in an environment that benefits you. Even though the weather may be colder, and your holiday plans may no longer include your partner or their family, you’ll need to find something constructive to do with your time. 

Action-Oriented Ways to Cope with a Holiday Breakup

There’s still plenty of ways to make the most out of the holiday season. If you’re feeling lost post-holiday breakup, try to remain physically active in different ways. The winter might seem like a time to hole up and nurse emotional wounds (and sometimes we need to), but it’s better to be proactive. Cope with a holiday breakup by: 

  • Traveling to see family—or if that’s not possible on short notice, video chat or talk with them when you can. Time with people we care about is great; it boosts our self-confidence and wellbeing and will remind you that there’s still plenty to celebrate without your significant other. 
  • Volunteering at an animal shelter, and if you’re feeling ready, adopt a pet that you can take care of. Pets can improve our mental health and our body chemistry, too.   
  • Treating yourself: Rent an Airbnb, or go in-person to buy yourself a gift that you’ve been eyeing for a while. Material objects won’t fill the void forever, but they can help you find new ways of distracting yourself as you recover from your breakup. 
  • Finding a physical activity that you enjoy. Physical activity can play a huge role in overall mental health, especially when we’re recovering from grief and loss. Many people like to ski, snowshoe, or ice skate during the winter months, but if these activities aren’t available, or don’t seem interesting to you, try indoor bouldering, weight training, yoga, or a HIIT class. 

Moving on Takes Time

The winter holidays can be tough if you and your partner have recently separated. But there will be better days ahead, including a rejuvenating spring—a process of regrowth and sunnier weather that actually makes us feel more optimistic, cheerful, and ready to tackle new challenges and experiences. Until then, though, don’t dwell on much but the present moment. The holiday breakup that you’re experiencing now will be something that you recover from, but it takes time and effort. 

Keeping active, despite the urge to remain inside, could help shorten the amount of time you spend stuck on your ex. They’re moving on, and it’s time that you do, too. Volunteer work, traveling to see family, treating yourself, and finding a winter activity that clicks are all great ways to put yourself back on the path of self-exploration and growth after a holiday breakup.