Surviving and Thriving Through the Holidays

The holidays can be tricky as a newly single person. Usually a time for family, and family traditions, we are made painfully aware that things have changed. Another reminder of days gone by. It’s important to create new traditions for yourself. If you have children, you might enlist them. What is particularly meaningful to you today?

I offer you many tips for making your holidays special this year, for filling those empty days that could leave room for sadness. Some of these come from my Surviving the Holidays workshop that we do every year right around Thanksgiving. I thought you might like them, too.

Remember that right now, like always, is a good time to take care of yourself and those you love. Hug everyone you can. Hugs are good for the soul.

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Here are a few ideas:

Make an effort to connect during the season. Get to know friends, relatives and maybe even neighbors. Find out what is important in their lives. You will be amazed at their depth and their incredible stories.  Who would you like to know more?

Intentionally add daily wonder. Nature is especially full of beauty and wonder. Get out in it daily. Wonder can be found walking outside on a crystal clear night under the Christmas lights. Be especially alert to holiday smells: hot cider, musty books, oiled furniture in a second hand store, wood smoke from the chimney, fresh baked cookies. Listen for the sounds of children, sleigh bells, a clock tower, the roar of a bus filled with tired shoppers. Feel the winter cold and the relief of a warm space; the silkiness of your scarf or the roughness of your wool coat.  What creates wonder for you?

Devote special time to practice your own spirituality. The holidays are, by design, a spiritual time. If past spiritual practices have lost meaning for you, create new ones. What special rituals would be especially meaningful for you, now? Is there a new church or spiritual community that you would like to try? How can you deepen your connection with Spirit, today? Can you enlist your children and/or close friends to help design a shared spiritual practice?

Spend time in gratitude. Divorce brings us face to face with so many things that are wrong about our lives. Changing that focus to one of gratitude will begin to expand the positives. (What we focus on grows.) A great way to spend time in gratitude is with a Gratitude Journal. Every morning (and/or evening) spend 5 to 15 minutes writing about everything for which you are grateful. Include the little things like: “I woke up.” “I have all my limbs.” “I have food in my frig.” “I smiled more today than I usually do.” Each day add more things for which you are grateful. You could also start a blog and write frequently about all the things for which you are grateful. Invite others to share their experiences, also. List 10 things for which you are genuinely grateful right in this very moment.

Find a way to give back to your community. Nothing helps take the  focus off of our own troubles like giving to others. The holidays are a great time to volunteer at homeless shelters, the children’s ward at the local hospital, Salvation Army, an area church, your local senior center. No matter how awful your life is, there is someone out there who is having a more difficult time. Giving part of your happiness and strength to another is very healing. What are some causes or organizations that you would like to volunteer for?

See Also: Claim Your Value

And this may be the most important of all your approaches to the holidays:

Carefully select the words you use when you think of the holidays. Instead of surviving or struggling through the holidays, try ‘dancing’ or ‘skating’ through the holidays. Question your thoughts around how you spend Friday nights, Sunday, Christmas, and other holidays. Instead of feeling left out how can you make them a special time as a single?

As you get stronger you will grow to appreciate the freedom you have to create your holidays any way you like. However you do it, make sure you’re not alone.

If you, or someone you know is hurting after the ending of an important relationship, please see details about our upcoming Beyond Divorce – Recovery class. There’s no need to go through it alone. I wish you the happiest holiday season.