When we think about the holidays, most of us look forward to experiencing a time of fun, family, and repeating traditions we hold dear. Unfortunately, this can also be a challenging time for those that have experienced a divorce. Whether the divorce happened in the last few months, or many years ago, the holidays offer unexpected challenges. But with some attention to your mental and emotional health, you can survive the challenges and possibly even experience some happiness.

    1) Surround yourself with loved ones.

    Even those that have not experienced a divorce can feel loneliness during the holiday. When you are without your spouse, you may feel incomplete in a new way. Even though you may have already come to terms with the separation, you may still crave having a partner nearby during the festivities. To combat these difficult feelings, make sure you are spending the holidays with the people who you love most, and who love you. Don’t try to be brave or put on a good face. Let others know how you are feelings so they have the chance to help you.

    2) Focus on the experience rather than the gifts.

    When you are going through a divorce, you may have a great deal of financial constraints. Focusing on having quality experiences with loved ones rather than giving expensive gifts can add a great deal to your holidays. Make a new tradition by turning away from the financial traps of the holidays. Most of us say that we believe there is a more important reason for the season, how many of us put this into practice? Make this a priority and you can experience deeper meaning this holiday season.

    3) Be patient with yourself.

    Pain, loneliness, guilt, sadness; these are hard to avoid during the holiday season. Embrace the reality that this holiday season may be more challenging than others. Take the time to feel your full range of emotions, and understand that things will not always be this challenging.

    4) Enlist professional help when needed.

    If you simply need more help or understand than your friends and family are providing, enlisting the help of a professional counselor or therapist can make all the difference. We are all busy, and many times, barely have time to talk about what occurred in our day, let alone our emotional struggles. When you reach out to a therapist or counselor, this person can help you sort out your feelings, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and make a plan for success They will walk on this journey with you, and help you discover new joy in the holiday season.

Whether it’s your first holiday season after a divorce, or your tenth, understand that loneliness and sadness are normal, and that you are not alone. The holidays are challenging time for many people, for many different reasons. This season, focus on these tips, and take time for yourself. Happy Holidays!