The first holiday season post-separation can be a devastating one. Know that. Acknowledge and accept it. Acceptance might not erase the pain and discomfort, but it is the antidote to anxiety. There are ways you can cope with the feelings of loss and loneliness, and activities to make better use of your newly found time. Instead of pacing the floors, try one or two of the suggestions that follow, and remember this is just a temporary state. It will pass!
One of the most essential tools for achieving peace of mind is meditation. The form of meditation you choose can vary from sitting quietly and observing your breath to silently repeating a mantra that has meaning for you. There are also guided meditations you can find online. Doing this for just five minutes a day has an incredible calming effect. Increase that to fifteen minutes a day, and you’ll see a tremendous change in how your body processes stress. This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself during the holidays and beyond.
Why wait for the new year to make resolutions and begin an exercise regime? We all know the benefits of those endorphin-releasing moves. Whether you do an at-home, equipment-free workout for 10 minutes or spend an hour at the gym, incorporating some type of exercise into your day will help ease any holiday blues. Better yet, go outside. Taking walks, bike riding, or doing yoga in the fresh air can lift your spirits and has long-lasting benefits.
Get together with girlfriends, guy friends, any friends…just get together! Even during this pandemic, there are safe ways to socialize and enjoy the company of others. Sharing a meal or just talking with friends is important throughout the divorce process, but particularly when you’re feeling low. Even if you don’t talk about what you’re experiencing, spending time with people who love you makes a big difference in your mental state.
Go On a Date
There’s a level of PTSD that can accompany divorce, and it’s real. It’s better to move through those feelings and acknowledge them than it is to ignore them and rush into a relationship for the sake of easing loneliness. However, a casual date here and there while you’re processing this new way of life is sometimes just what you need. Keep it light! Just learning about someone new can be refreshing if there’s no pressure involved.
What better way to take your mind off your own problems than to spend time helping others? Again, even during the pandemic, opportunities exist to lend a hand while practicing social distancing. Check out your local food pantries and homeless shelters to see what needs they have for assistance. You’ll meet new people and feel good about doing something good for others.
If you’re a parent and sharing custody, put off all food prep and gift wrapping to the time when your kids will be away. Play some music—hip hop, holiday, whatever—and wrap their gifts, do your baking and general food prep. You’ll be busy and it will occupy time that you previously spent with your children. When they do come back to you, you can focus on doing something fun with them.
Enjoy Your Solitude
Binge watch all those TV shows you’ve been hearing about. Create a vision board using photos, illustrations, special phrases, anything that speaks to you and represents your dreams for the future. Do anything that brings you peace, helps you relax, or inspires you to try something new while you’re getting to know yourself better. The most important relationship you have is with yourself. Honor that and be grateful for all you’ve accomplished. You’ve got this!
Jodie Hardesty, CDC Certified Divorce Coach®
Jodie Hardesty is the owner of Chesapeake Divorce Support and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org