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Surviving the Holidays After Divorce by Guest Columnist Robyn Gornicki-Davis

Divorce sucks.  It just does. Even if it is absolutely the right thing.  It just sucks.  People have asked not to say that it sucks.  But I won’t lie about it.  So, knowing this can prepare you for the thoughts and feelings that come up during the holidays after or during your divorce.  


The holidays will be different.  You will experience feelings of loss and frustration BUT you can also experience new joy and happiness.  


First things first – take care of yourself.  Even if you have kids.  More importantly because you have kids.   If you drink too much, eat too much, sleep too much, you get it – over do anything, you are not going to be your best for you, your kids or anyone in your life circle.  


People are going to either be overly supportive or passive.   Set boundaries with your friends and your family.  Tell them you don’t want to talk about the divorce at holiday gatherings.  Just send a text that says “Hey, I am coming to this party, but I am asking you to please not talk about the divorce.  Please respect my request.”   If they are truly friends and family, they will honor your request.  Tell them not to ask how you are doing unless you call and say, “Hey, I need to tell you how I am doing today.” 


Things are going to be different.  It’s a perfect opportunity to start new traditions.  That thing you’ve wanted to do at the holidays for years, do it.   Make it yours.  


The first year, get new holiday decorations.   You can get some inexpensive decorations at all of the dollar stores.   If you have kids, let them help pick out new decorations.  Tell them you will combine some of the old with the new next year.  They’ll get it.  Kids are a lot more resilient than adults think.


If you do have kids, clear and concise communication with your ex is a must.   Make sure you both understand the schedule weeks in advance and let the kids know what the schedule is.   Text it, email it, and double confirm it.   The last thing you need is the eve of the holiday for your ex to show up or not show up. 


Make sure you have a few close friends and family that you can just vent to.  Tell them, I may call you and just start rambling and all I need you to do is listen. Not fix or agree or bash, just listen.   Why?  Because you may say something you regret later and then that person will say “remember when you said.”  This is not beneficial for anyone. 


Don’t compare your divorce to anyone else’s divorce.  Your best friend who has been through a divorce may want to give you a ton of advice about how it went for her.  I promise you, as a former divorce paralegal who has helped thousands of women navigate their divorce, this has never helped.  In fact, it has always made things more complicated.  It will give you expectations that cannot be met. No two divorces are alike – at all.  Never will be.  


So, what can you do to help yourself through your divorce at the holidays? 


Self-care is the star of success.  It is not selfish at all.  In fact, it is selfless.  If you’re not healthy, you are not going to be good for anyone in your life. So, what should you do?


WATER.  Drink a lot of it.  How much is a lot ?  At least 64 ounces or 8 cups a day.   Why? Not drinking enough water can cause fatigue, sweet cravings, dry skin, headaches and dehydration.  So, if you’re trying to watch what you eat and your weight during the holidays – drink water!   I know, I know… but what about holiday parties?  Drink club soda or sparking water with lime so you still “feel” like you have a drink and don’t have to answer people when they ask you why you’re not drinking – and they will. I know. 


SLEEP.  Do it.  Get your sleep.  Don’t over plan or overschedule yourself to “keep busy” and avoid your feelings.  Get your rest.   Exhaustion will only amplify your feelings.   You should get at the minimum 6 hours of sleep a night but preferably 7-8 hours – YES.   Why? Sleep affects your whole body.  Your body recovers during sleep.  Your mind rests during sleep.  Not enough sleep makes you crave food and alcohol.   Have you ever felt sleeping and wandered around your house trying to figure out what to do – go to bed or watch TV or read and ended up eating something you really didn’t want?  Yep, that’s what I am talking about.  So get your sleep!


Having trouble sleeping?  Try hot tea, a meditation (more on this below) or a CBD supplement before bed.  Also, be sure your bedroom is dark.  No TV, phone, computer.  I know, I know.  But once you get used to it – it is amazing! 


MEDITATION. You may say no way to this one.  I’ll admit, I am not one to sit crisscross applesauce on the floor, close my eyes and meditate.  I do sometimes, with a guided app.  My absolute favorite way to meditate is walking.  Take a walk.  Without earbuds in.  Look at the trees. The sky.  Listen to the cars, kids, dogs, birds, the whole world around you.  When your mind starts to wander focus on the tree out in front of you.  Look at the leaves.  Watch them move.  I also love to lay on my back and put my legs up the wall and close my eyes and pray.  Putting your legs above your heart lowers your heart rate and calms you.  It also stretches your back and legs.  This is a perfect before bed way to meditate.


Find your way to meditate.  The way that fits your life and do it.  Start out with 5 minutes and it will grow from there.


MOVE.  It doesn’t have to be a lot.  You can do this with your mediation (see above).  You can simply sit on the floor and stretch while you are watching TV.  Walk the stairs in your house or at work for 5-10 minutes.  Grab a 10 minute yoga on YouTube. Just move.  


DO SOMETHING FOR YOU!  Get a manicure and pedicure.  Massage.  Buy yourself something nice. (Be mindful of the cost  ) Read a book.  Go to lunch with a friend and set parameters (no talking about divorce).  


Divorce does suck. But it is totally doable.  Over 26 years of helping women divorce, I have seen women who thought their lives were over succeed in life more than they ever thought they would.  You can too. 


If you need help, I can help you. 



Kindness Always,


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