Some of you have been my client for just a few weeks, and others for years. I know this time of year can be very hard regardless of where you are in the process of separating. For some of you, this may be your first holiday without your child due to a shared holiday custodial arrangement. Now that two homes are being funded by the same income that once funded one household, plus attorney’s fees, you are probably pretty stressed about the cost of the holiday.
If you do Santa, or another holiday where gift giving is a focal point, this can be an especially trying time. It can be a stressful and lonely time, I know because I have had those holidays post separation where I felt incredibly alone and depressed. Thankfully, I had the support of family and friends during those hard times, as well as the comfort of my pets. I was able to “revamp” my holiday into new traditions and think less about the past and the future stress of separation.
What is my holiday wish for you, client? That you give yourself a break for the holiday (at least one day!) of not thinking about the negative impact of the past and future due to divorce/separation and focus on the present – how can you make your present one filled with joy and happiness rather than loneliness and stress? Positive distractions! Give yourself the gift of a positive distraction to be thankful for what you have and not focus on what is lost. If your child is at the other parent’s house for the holiday – be thankful you have a child to share. Take your negative and find the positive. Here are some of my favorite positive distractions:
1) Go For a Walk
It is chilly (sometimes around here, anyway in NC), but go for a walk and enjoy the surroundings. Walk around downtown Raleigh and enjoy the decorations, or the many trails in the area to see nature at its finest. You never know when you may see some really cool wildlife from afar. It can be a time to reflect on the good in your life and not focus on just the bad.
2) Spend Time With Friends & Family
Spend time with family and friends. If they are not local, maybe consider a trip if it is affordable or a road trip? Or meet halfway for a new adventure. The holidays are very sentimental and one of the best ways to overcome the past is to make new memories. It can be hard to let go of old traditions, but starting your own traditions with friends and family can be a rewarding experience for years to come. Ask your kids what they want to do this holiday, and answer any questions they have. You can make a list of ideas together and choose the best ones. This is your chance to start anew and reinvent yourself!
No family or friends to spend time with? Volunteer. I am sure there are many wonderful organizations that could use your assistance. Homeless shelters or even nursing homes, hospitals. Folks who don’t normally have visitors may benefit from some company during the holiday season.
4) Take Care Of Yourself
Engage in self-care – whatever that may mean for you – cooking yourself a good meal, a date with yourself to a movie and dinner, a quiet evening with a book and tea, or some Netflix cinematherapy – find a happy movie to watch. My go to happy holiday movie is Christmas Vacation, but that is not everyone’s cup of tea, of course.
My holiday wish for you is to be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself the gift of a break from the worry and stress of your case and do something for you to make you feel happy. You deserve it. You have been through a lot.
– Jennifer Smith
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