Tips for the newly divorced or separated on how to survive the first Christmas.

The first Christmas after divorce or separation can not only be tough, but for some, absolutely gruelling. The same may apply for the first Christmas that your children spend with your ex rather than you.

However, if you are able to plan ahead to help cope with what may feel like a roller coaster of emotions, then you are going in the right direction.

After divorce or separation, it is important to acknowledge your feelings and emotions and know how to process them in a healthy way. This doesn’t apply just to Christmas; but of course, this time of year, with such emphasis on family, is a huge trigger for those not in a close, loving family relationship.

Whether or not you think you will be able to handle this period well, it may help you to have a backup plan for when or if you have those unpleasant feelings bubble up. The last thing anyone wants, especially if you are a mother, is for the holidays to drag out something that has already been a painful enough experience.

Many times, especially during life altering situations such as divorce, we cannot predict what we will feel, and emotions are running high. The key point to keep in mind, is that you have the power to control your thoughts, and if you plan in advance, this can help you get through this period.

Listed below are a few coping skills and tactics that can help make this time of year a bit more bearable and help you with this difficult transition period of your life:

• Make plans in advance. Be with family or friends, or anyone who knows you, and knows what you are going through. They will be happy to support you, and keep you busy.

• Start new traditions: out with the old and in with the new. This doesn’t necessarily have to be anything major. If you are open to starting new traditions why not, for example, get a pink tree, and buy totally different decorations to those you’ve previously used. Consider this as part of reinventing what Christmas will be for you in the future.

• If the thought of doing something new is too much for you at the time, stick to your familiar routine as much as possible, and accept that change is difficult sometimes.

• Don’t use alcohol, money, or food to boost your mood. Yes, the food and alcohol part may be difficult during the Christmas period. But just be aware of whether you are simply allowing yourself to indulge (which is totally OK), or if you are burying your emotions and using alcohol and food to cope with your pain.

• Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel all your emotions. Once they are felt, you are in a better place to start to let them go. Maybe splurge a little on yourself, and buy yourself a nice treat. The key to being your best self is making sure you spend time on you. Then you can have your cup full and you are able to give to others.

If you keep these tips in mind, they should hopefully help you to get through the Christmas period with less angst. And once it is all over, you’ll have a huge feeling of accomplishment.

The first Christmas period following divorce or separation is always the worst. But the key is to make sure you are in tune with your feelings and emotions, as well as being kind to yourself.

As women, and especially as mothers, we are tugged into all sorts of directions. We never feel there is enough time to get everything done, let alone focus on ourselves ie. keeping your cup full. However, this is of utmost importance because when your cup is full, you are able to fully give the best of yourself to others (your kids, your job, your family, etc.)

You are still an amazing person, wife, mother, friend, etc. and the Christmas period is not just about celebrating with family but with those around us who truly value and appreciate the women that we are.

So, I hope this Christmas period, you decide to put yourself first and focus on your future.

Have a wonderful time!

Mary xx