Holiday stress and divorce: 5 tips for keeping your sanity this season
Holiday stress and divorce can make a supposedly festive season feel overwhelming. The holidays are pictured in the media as a time for big, loving families to get together and have a great time. However, even without a divorce complicating the picture, that’s not the case for a lot of people.
This season, let go of expectations and focus on finding joyful moments when you can.
“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” — Bryant H. McGill
1. Focus on what you can control
Take some wisdom from the Stoics and give up trying to master the things that are outside your control. You don’t have any say in what others say about you. Continue to do the things you think are right for the situation, and ignore the haters.
If your divorce is taking place in court, you have no discretion over the judge. So don’t worry about what he or she is going to say, or how they’re going to rule, or try to manipulate them into doing what you want.
You do have control over your spending. If you can’t afford something during the holidays, then you can’t. Let it go. Look at what you can afford, or what you can do with your family that is free or low-cost.
You also determine how you talk about and to your soon-to-be-ex (stbx). Don’t say things you’ll regret later, especially in front of your children if you have them.
2. Know your finances
If you have a very clear idea of how much you can spend this holiday season, without going into debt, you’ll find it much easier to turn down impulse buys. ’Tis not the season to worry about keeping up with Joneses!
You’ll feel more empowered anyway if you avoid spending to keep up with anyone. Including your stbx. Have a spending plan, and let it guide you when you’re making buying decisions.
If you’re concerned that your stbx is buying extravagant presents for the family, that’s something you don’t have control over. Spend enough time with your family, including the kids, and that’s even better than being able to buy the latest gaming contraption.
Remember, you can’t pour out of an empty cup. Put your oxygen mask on first. Going and going without taking a break for self-care will result in you being tired and snappy. Which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid this season!
Whatever it is that you need to recharge, take a little time for it. Bubble bath, massage, hike in the woods, calling a friend, whatever it is. As Nike says, Just do it.
4. Let others help
Believe it or not, the holiday includes other people! It’s not your job to do every single thing around the house that needs to be done. If you’re hosting dinner, your guests can bring sides or dessert or even help you chop onions in the kitchen.
Your kids can help you with tasks like decorating and baking, depending on age. They should also help you clean up the mess afterward! Your parents or friends can take the kids occasionally so you get a break.That helps them bond as well, so win-win.
You get the idea. Make sure the family is helping with chores and errands. Everyone gets to get their hands dirty. Or covered in glitter sprinkles from wrapping presents.
5. You can’t do it all, so don’t try to
Sometimes people feel pressure around the holidays to look or act perfect. Have the decorations just so, find the perfect present for everyone on your list, etc.
It’s not going to happen, especially when you’re in the middle of the divorce process. So give up thinking it might happen this year.
Let yourself have the holiday that works for you this season.
It might mean your house is not spotless and sanitized when people come over. It might mean the kids’ hair is messy or the tree has lots of bare spots. That’s OK, if you’re more relaxed and able to have some fun with friends and family.
Give yourself the gift of relaxed expectations this year. (It might feel so good you do it again next year!) Holidays and divorce are not the time to be stressed about having everything just so. That’s pretty much impossible.
Work on the things where you can make a difference, and stop worrying about the things where you can’t. Let it go, let it go, let it go.
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