Christmas is generally thought of as a family holiday, and that reality could present you with problems when you don’t have your family around or if your access to them is restricted due to separation or custody issues. A marital separation can make the holidays a lot more difficult than they need to be if you are not prepared for the psychological challenge it represents.
The following are some tips that can make your first Christmas after separation a happier time.
- Take care of yourself physically during the run-up to the holiday period. Get a flu shot, and get plenty of rest and fluids if you do get sick. Get enough sleep, eat right, and don’t spend too much time alone. Your goal should be to be at your best coming into the holiday period.
- Plan ahead for the holidays, more so than you usually do. Schedule activities – the last thing you need to be doing is spending time alone ruminating. If this is your first Christmas after separation, it could set a precedent for future years. Do your best to fill this time with warmth and good memories. The better you plan things out, the more smoothly they are likely to go.
- Don’t spend the holidays alone if you can help it. You are likely to find solitude during a traditional family holiday period to be unbearable, even if you find it quite bearable most of the time. Make the effort to reach out to your favorite people, whether they be friends or family members, and spend some time with them. Do this even if you don’t feel like it – you’ll likely thank yourself later.
- Put your children first, if you have any. Work together with your spouse as cooperatively as you can to bring your children a happy holiday period. When celebrating with your children, try to keep family traditions alive to give your children a healthy sense of continuity. At the same time, make it a point to try something new that you are all likely to enjoy.
If you will not be getting together without your spouse and children over the holidays, consult with your spouse to make sure everything goes smoothly and that no disputes about parenting time arise. Such disputes may be unavoidable at times, but the holiday period should be free of them.
- Don’t pressure yourself to buy a lot of gifts, especially if your separation has led you to financial hardship (after all, it’s a lot more expensive to maintain two households than one). It really is the thought that counts, and high holiday bills will come back to haunt you later. Talk with your spouse to make sure that Christmas doesn’t become a gift-giving competition between you and your spouse.
- Make an effort to put yourself into a festive mood. What do you love about Christmas? The decorations? Put a tree in your living room and string your front lawn with Christmas lights. Cook a turkey for friends, go caroling, or take a sleigh ride.
- Take it easy on the eggnog, at least if it contains alcohol. The holidays can be a trying time for newly single people, and it is easy to turn to alcohol to cover up negative feelings that you might be struggling with. Numbing these feelings with spiked eggnog, however, will only make things worse in the long run.
- Make New Year’s resolutions and take action on them. If you resolve to get into shape, join a gym and work out as soon as you can (after the pandemic ends, of course), or purchase home gym equipment. Make your goals specific. “Get into shape” is far too vague – something like “Lose 22 pounds by July 31” is far preferable.
Many newly separated people struggle with depression, and this year is likely to be worse than most due to nationwide social distancing measures. Scientific research has shown that there are few antidotes to depression more effective than forming goals and making progress toward fulfilling them. Your goals should be concrete enough for you to be able to measure your progress on a weekly basis.
- Do something kind for people you don’t know. There is nothing that can lift a somber mood better than helping others, and volunteer opportunities typically abound during the holidays. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or help with a food drive. Whatever activity you select, it should allow you some socialization time, and it should put you into contact with people less fortunate than yourself.
- Avoid excessive nostalgia. Focus on making new memories, not reliving old ones. There isn’t anything you can “do” to make this happen – it all happens inside your head. Simply monitor your own thoughts and dismiss any inappropriate ones.
- Avoid overeating during the holidays. A little indulgence is fine, even laudable. Just don’t overdo it, or you will regret it later. Overindulgence affects your mental attitude, and it is your state of mind that you most need to protect when you are dealing with separation and pandemic-induced isolation at the same time.
- Make a list of what is good about your life, and keep adding to it as you think of new things. Keep this journal the entire year, not just during the holidays.
Contact 303 Legal, P.C. for Your Family Law Needs
Family legal issues, more than just about any other type of legal issue, tend to be nuanced and complex. You need a law firm that understands this. The experienced family legal issues legal team at 303 Legal, P.C., have been helping clients resolve their difficulties with maximum effectiveness and minimum stress for many years now. We pride ourselves on finding just the right balance between compromise and confrontation – and that balance is different for every client.
Don’t let the glue of circumstance harden around your feet. Contact 303 Legal, P.C., for a consultation so that we can listen to your story, answer your questions, and take appropriate action. Contact us online, call our office directly, or visit our office in Cedar Rapids, IA. We look forward to hearing from you!