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Coping with the Holidays and Divorce

Ready or not… it’s the holidays! As the festive season moves into high gear, many people start to feel as though they are operating in low gear trying to get everything done. Yours has not been a typical year. Whether the transitions you’re facing were by choice or not, there still are all the new adjustments to be made, and you may be experiencing a sense of loss as well.

All of this accompanied by your regular (or even increased) workload could be creating a state of surmounting stress. To compound things a bit more, stress requires a great deal of psychological and physical energy. Therefore, very possibly you are experiencing a present lag in motivation to deal with the holiday’s altogether.

I would like to make the suggestion to you to “keep it simple” this year. Here are some possible tips to help see you through.

Focus on the Basics

Don’t put your health last on your list. If you are feeling something’s got to give, don’t let it be the normal attention you pay to your health. It is vital in keeping your stress level down, to regulate your basic health habits including; eating, sleeping and exercise. A key way to avoid feeling tired and dragging, is to keep your eating habits as normal as possible. Also, a vigorous walk in the fresh air can have you sleeping better and make you more alert, energetic and therefore, more efficient during the day. And remember, it is extremely important that you don’t neglect any ongoing medical problems or put off any important medical attention you may need, regardless of how tapped out or distracted you may be feeling.

Keep Your Plans Realistic

If you are not going to be with family this year, I would suggest you not stay home alone and try to maintain your usual holiday routine. Instead, get creative! This is your opportunity to visit a place or engage in a personal activity that has been put aside due to other responsibilities. If possible, surround yourself with others who are near and dear. Also, it is helpful to know that psychologically, it is not so much the “is what it is” that causes us the most stress, but how we perceive the “is what it is.” Just think, this could be your holiday year of new adventures!

This Is Not the Time to Fix It

It is important as a general rule to resist the temptation to patch up long standing family problems during the emotionally charged holiday season. Even peacemaking efforts are likely to be more successful and less stressful at a calmer time of the year. For you and your family personally, this is a unique holiday and period of healing. Maintaining a stable emotional climate will help promote the healing. Therefore, avoid confrontation at this time.

Take a Moment to Relax

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect (no wallowing!) and to contemplate the future. Soft music, something calming to look at, a soothing cup of tea, a warm bath, relaxation techniques (including breathing, stretching or visual imagery), or treating yourself to a massage all are healthy relaxation inducers. When we relax, the result can be more meaningful reflection, with a heightened sense of well being and internal control.

The overall objective is that you endure and even enjoy the holidays this year, and that you are left feeling good, come January, ready to take on the New Year and a new chapter in your life!


Written by Susan DiBenedetto, a licensed marital and family therapist with over 14 years of experience as a relationship specialist. She is conveniently located in the South Lake Business District of Pasadena.

Susan DiBenedetto MFT, License #39146

Careth Counseling:
305 S. Hudson Ave.,
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 584-5832

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