“Surviving the Holidays After a Relationship Ends”

depressed man by christmas tree and presents

If you’ve ever suffered a break-up during the holiday season, you know the pain and loneliness that can accompany such a loss. Before you parted ways, you and your ex would do everything together: fix Thanksgiving dinner, put up the tree, visit family, and bring in the new year with a bang. Now, you’re faced with the prospect of doing these things alone or maybe not at all. 
Though there’s no way to totally avoid the sting of a breakup/divorce before or during the holidays, there are things you can do to make the best of the situation. 
Survival Tip #1 Practice Gratefulness 
If you ask a recent divorcee or jilted partner how they feel, it’s highly unlikely that their response will be “so grateful!” So why is it that practicing gratefulness would be the first tip for surviving the holidays without a partner?  Interestingly, becoming more in tune with all the good things in your life can help you feel better. Gratefulness can help you realize that although an important part of your life is no more, not all is lost. 
In 3 Ways to Practice Gratitude, the author suggests ways to practice gratitude every single day. Although this particular article was written for teens, the suggestions are beneficial for everyone wanting to become more grateful regardless of their age. Things to try:
  1. Think of (and list) three things you’re grateful for
  2. Start a gratitude journal to keep track of the good things in your life
  3. Begin a gratitude ritual such as the daily 2-minute ritual
Embracing gratitude while embracing mindfulness can be the start to real recovery.
Survival Tip #2 Help Others
One of the best ways to combat the feelings of loneliness and loss is to pour one’s extra time and resources into volunteer work. Though this is possible year-round, the holidays offer unique giving experiences that aren’t available during other seasons.
Help run a toy drive for needy children, visit elders with out family members, volunteer in a homeless shelter, serve in a soup kitchen. Whatever skills you have, offer them!
You may wonder what exactly giving back has to do with your loss. The answer is simple: nothing. What it can do is help you feel purposeful, energized, and needed. This rejuvenated sense of purpose can help one get back on track and event a new life without the love they’ve left behind. 
For ways to give back, check with your local nonprofits or the online sites like VolunteerMatch.org or ServeNet.org. 

Survival Tip #3 Take Care of Yourself
Though helping others and making meaningful connections is an important part of getting through the holidays, self-care is the most important gift of all. This is also one of the hardest tools to truly embrace because of the hit to self-esteem that can be attached to a break-up. 
Courtney Carver’s article 30 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself Over the Holidays offers some unique ways to re-center yourself and focus on self during this season. Her suggestions range from simple tricks like candlelight and eating well to more challenging tips like embracing forgiveness and going “internet-lite”. Though every suggestion may not work for you personally, just embracing a few of these tips can help you treat yourself better while the healing process continues.

If after practicing these tips you feel that you are not moving forward with emotional healing as you should, don’t be afraid to reach out to Lee Miller LFT, by calling her office at (310) 879-5630 or email her at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com. Feeling better could be just a phone call away!