Kate Thorpe discusses ‘The First Christmas’… and offers up 5 practical ways to get through your first Christmas after a break up.
Kate is a practicing Psychotherapist specialising in Stress and Anxiety issues.
Christmas is a magical time… except when it’s not! A family break-up or divorce is life changing, and the impact of emotions such as loss, loneliness, financial worries, and fears of coping as a single or absent parent, are often underestimated. Christmas, traditionally seen as a time for family and togetherness, can seem like just another slap in the face.
Yes, your first Christmas after a break up will be an adjustment, and as with any new situation, the first time is always the most difficult. But it doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion that this Christmas will be awful, and in fact, you could even make it a great one! Here are some suggestions of what you can do to make this first Christmas as good as it can be for you and your children:
1. Take yourself out
Uplift and re-energise yourself by taking a trip in nature, whether that’s the local park, a bicycle trail, or up into the hills (always be safe). Exercise and fresh air are Nature’s remedies for much that ails the mind and spirit. While outdoors, notice everything around you, truly take in the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and allow your mind to recharge. Enjoy being refreshed and invigorated, and who knows, it might even be the start of a new, healthy habit for the New Year.
If you prefer company, consider joining a local organised walk, and for runners, there is often a Park Run organised on Christmas Day. Whatever you do, get yourself outdoors and get going. Your mind and body will thank you!
2. Avoid the Christmas Competition
When sharing the children on Christmas Day, it can sometimes feel like a competition with the ex in terms of who can provide the better day, the best presents, the biggest tree, etc, all of which can make Christmas seem more like a battleground than a joyous festival.
It may be healthier all round to simply ignore what your ex does, and focus just on you and your children. Indulge in some past favourite Christmas traditions, but also, create some new ones that you can all enjoy in your new circumstances. Make new and happy memories for the kids to take with them, and give them something extra to look forward to next year.
Importantly, plan both for the time you have with them, and for the time you are alone, so you can make the most of both.
3. Indulge yourself
If you’re spending Christmas day (or part of it) alone, be completely self-indulgent. You have total control of the TV remote, and everything else! Eat all the food that you want. Binge watch Netflix or your favourite movie collection. Spend time on your hobbies. Wear pyjamas all day if it suits you. Really pamper yourself. Make the most of this opportunity to be completely selfish, and relish it, guilt free!
4. Be Productive
Use that extra time on your hands to good advantage and finish those jobs that you just haven’t had time for. A good clear out and checking things off can be cathartic, bringing a wonderfully gratifying sense of achievement.
5. Help others
Volunteering is a way of connecting with others in a way that you might never have done before, and can be immensely satisfying. If you have the time, many organisations will welcome you with open arms and friendly smiles, and you will be helping to give others a better Christmas.
Check your local newspaper or community centre, or try these links:
While the run up to Christmas can be a crazy time, Christmas itself is just one day; so quickly it has come then it’s gone, the New Year arrives, and normality returns. In moments of struggle this year, try to remember; “This Too Shall Pass”.
If social media is your thing perhaps #Joinin with Sarah Millican:
“Spending Christmas alone when you do not want to can be deeply upsetting. Christmas is an emotional time of year and for some people it can increase feelings of isolation and failure. The #JoinIn campaign is an excellent way to make people feel included, and help to tackle loneliness at Christmas.” Millican tweets at @SarahMillican75