Your Pre-Divorce Holiday Season Coping Guide

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge.

by Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Have you been facing this holiday season with a mix of emotions; on one hand, hoping things will get better in your relationship, while at the same time dreading another holiday feeling stuck, empty, alone and wondering why you stay?

Suppose part of you has decided you are going to leave your marriage, but you need to get

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

Lynn Waldman, LCSW

through this holiday season for yourself and for the sake of your children. There are many unanswered questions that you may face in the New Year, but for now coping with the reality is a challenge. Staying calm in front of family, friends and children may be one of your goals.

Clients often struggle with how to make the best of things until they can leave their relationship. One coping strategy that works for clients begins with letting go of expectations. Letting go of hoping things will change or get better or that you will feel differently. Sometimes it is a relief to just accept things as they are. With acceptance comes a willingness to let things unfold and be as they are, as opposed to a sense of willfulness and of trying to change things we have no control over. To feel the willingness of accepting things as they are, try sitting with your arms slightly outstretched, palms up, take a breath, and repeat to yourself, “it is what it is.”

Another coping strategy is to check into your thoughts. When we have difficult feelings, it is often due to a difficult thought lurking somewhere in our minds. We may not even be aware of the difficult thought. With the difficult thoughts and feelings we often engage in behaviors we may regret. Try and identify those thoughts and feelings. Naming feelings often releases us from the overwhelm. Also, ask yourself, “what else may be true besides my difficult thought?” Focus on the facts of the situation, and if you need more information, seek out professionals who may be able to help. Remember, just because we have a thought or a worry, does not mean it is true.

In going forward with your divorce, the Collaborative process is one that takes into consideration, not only the legal and financial aspects of your marriage, but also your emotions and the emotions of your family. A Collaborative divorce coach offers assistance with coping skills to help you manage through the transition of divorce while focusing on the best resolution for everyone.

While this holiday season may be the last you will spend under the same roof with your spouse and co-parent, you certainly will have many more holiday seasons to come. Making the best of this season may be the best gift you can give yourself and your children this year.

End of the Year Divorce Survival Tips

by Julia M. Garwood, Garwood Family Law and Mediation

The holidays are a time for celebration and holiday cheer. Members of the Collaborative julia-garwood-photoFamily Law Group of San Diego understand that holidays can be challenging for divorcees. No need to simply try to survive them. Use these holiday survival tips to help you thrive instead of just survive the holiday season!

End of the Year Survival Tip #1: Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is an excellent tool to carry with you during the holiday season. It can help mend some of those emotional strains and provide you with a strong foundation for any challenges you might face. But positive thinking takes more than just an impulsive desire to be happy. It takes a dedicated mind set and a change in lifestyle. You’re not going to be able to achieve positive thinking by simply wanting to be happy. Positive thinking is accomplished through continued effort and long-term persistence.

Smile: Changing your mind set might be as simple as making yourself smile. Facial movements can influence emotional experience. Try smiling during a holiday gathering; you will come to find that the event will become much more enjoyable.

Contribute to the Community: During this time of the year there are many people in need. Giving to the less fortunate can relieve your mind. Volunteer in your local shelter and give back to your community. When you help someone less fortunate, it provides both of you with some positive thinking for going beyond just surviving the holidays.

Exercise: This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a marathon. Simply walk in the park, enjoy the beach, or do some yoga. Certainly any of these activities will do the trick.

Rekindle an Old Hobby or Start a New One: Chances are during your marriage one or more of your hobbies had to take a back seat. There is no better time than the present to reach back into your past and pull forward some of these enjoyable pastimes.

End of the Year Survival Tip #2: Make A Plan

Unfortunately, there are going to be some challenges during the holiday season that you can’t avoid. It is important for you to do an internal evaluation, define what boundaries you need to set, and make a plan to help maintain your “positive thinking” attitude.

Holiday Traditions Plan: Traditions have a special place during the holiday season. It is sometimes difficult for recent divorcees to either continue a long-time tradition or to stop an annual tradition. Do you let a tradition go, or try to force yourself through something that is no longer enjoyable? If you are unsure about how to approach a tradition, simply look to your first tool in the End of the Year Survival Tip. If it is going to make you unhappy, don’t force yourself through it. It doesn’t have to mean the tradition is over, it can just mean you are taking a break from it this year or start a new tradition.

Children Plan: It is important that you and your ex establish a mutual plan for where your children will spend specific portions of the holidays and coordinate your gift-giving. Having a clear plan in advance is beneficial to everyone involved and can help avoid crisis situations and decisions that can threaten your ability to enjoy the holidays.

End of the Year Survival Tip #3: Outdoor Activities

There is no better way to get through the holidays than to get out and enjoy yourself. With a positive attitude, a plan, and a list full of fun activities, you are ready to thrive this holiday season!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • San Diego Zoo
  • Balboa Park
  • Mission Bay
  • La Jolla Shores
  • Legoland
  • Your Local Library