Holiday Survival Guide for the Newly Divorced

Holiday Survival Guide for the Newly Divorced

- in Health, Parenting

Happy holidays! Right? Maybe not. For a newly divorced parent, the holidays might not be so happy after all. I can relate. No matter how many years I’ve been divorced, I still dread this time of year and the start of the holiday season. Truth be told, I was never that into it when I was married but, being single, the next six weeks comes with its own challenges.

My good friend told me when I was newly divorced that this would be “the year of the firsts,” and the goal was to just get through it. Boy, was he right! Here are some strategies that have helped me through. I hope you find them helpful:

1. Keep expectations low. It’s OK for your goal to be to just get through it.

2. Expect a range of emotions.

3. Get rid of “shoulds” and expectations. This is a great time to reevaluate why you’re still doing what you’re doing anyhow.

4. Practice self-care and compassion. Allow yourself to feel however you feel. Remember that feelings are objective (that doesn’t mean the thoughts driving them are true!)

5. Enlist support. Make sure you have people around you that nourish you.

6. Challenge any unhelpful thinking: I’ll always be alone, I’ll never be happy again, the holidays are forever ruined.

7. Create new traditions!

8. Volunteer. Helping others is a great way to get out of your own head.

If you’ve noticed, none of my survival tips talk about my children. That’s because before I can help them, I have to help myself. Certainly there’s a whole other set of challenges for parents spending less time with their children over the holidays, if not completely separated from them. We can apply nearly all of these tips to our children, too, as they experience their own firsts.

If you need more than simple tips and tricks, seeking professional help is never a bad idea — especially if you already experience high anxiety and/or panic. I’ve helped many men and women walk through their personal situations, and I can help you, too. Contact me to discuss!

Psst … want a bonus tip? Click here

About the author

Joanna Hardis, LISW, is a cognitive behavioral therapist and Gestalt-certified coach. A mother of three, she combines her personal parenting with her 20+ years of professional experience. She breaks down the evidence-based research into down-to-earth guidance and support. Her specialties are treating adults and children who have anxiety disorders or obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders, are going through life transitions (like life after divorce), or who would like help with their parenting skills. She also offers coaching services for those who want help reaching their goals. Coaching generates change by creating awareness and then offering a different way of being and doing. Joanna lives in Cleveland Heights with her three children and their, dog Giggsy. Learn more about Joanna at Follow Giggsy on Instagram:


  1. I think these are all great suggestions to practice every year regardless of your relationship status. Thank you for sharing!

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