Divorce is never a fun thing to have to go through, though it is the reality for many American families. As a result, the first holidays afterward can be very difficult. No matter how long you were married, you likely had a way of doing things when holidays came up with either your ex’s family or yours. This can make the transition even tougher, especially if you happen to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder as well. Let’s take a look at dealing with divorce, depression, and the holidays.
Separating and Your Emotions
To start off with, make sure you understand the five stages of loss, and how they can relate to divorce. It will help you keep a smart relationship with your emotions if you know that at least you’re progressing through processing everything, even if you’re so angry sometimes you can’t see straight. If need be, start to keep a journal where you write down all the things you wish to say to your ex-spouse – this can help relieve anxiety and stress about the things you are dealing with and help you process, as well.
It can be tempting to retreat into yourself and do things how you always used to do them, no matter how hard they might be. If you have younger children, you may feel the urge to keep rituals the same for them – like a certain type of food at Thanksgiving or trimming the tree with the same ornaments you have always used – but making sure that you create new rituals as a new, smaller family is just as important. If you have shared custody, on the weekends when the children are gone, make sure that you have something to do with yourself – the holidays can be a busy time for everyone, but make sure to give your friends and family gentle reminders that you need them there for you, too. There are also many divorce support groups, and you may benefit from attending one. Don’t allow your divorce to remove your joy from the holidays. Your life is yours to live, no matter what your ex-spouse might say or think.
The Season for SAD
Something that many people don’t know much about or haven’t even heard about before is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. SAD is a pattern of depressive episodes related to changes in the weather, and the amount of light a person sees during the day. It is not fully understood but is thought to be caused by issues with the way your body processes melatonin – a brain chemical that is related to mood and sleeping patterns. Symptoms and signs of SAD include the following:
- Feeling depressed most of the day
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Low energy
- Problems sleeping
- Changes in your appetite
Among other symptoms, these can be some of the most prevalent and upsetting aspects. Coupled with the emotional complications of recovering from a divorce, it can make a devastating emotional cocktail. Making sure that you have the best support system you have available to you, is one of the best ways you can combat both SAD and the emotional fallout from a divorce. Create new activities you and your children can do together or if you won’t have your children over the holidays find ways to de-stress and enjoy your time alone.
There is no quick-fix to divorce, and it can make the holidays even harder and more stressful than ever. Make sure to lean on the people you can, and be there for your kids as much as you can while you deal with everything.