For those going through or recently divorced, the holidays add another layer of stress and anxiety: Will I need to interact with my ex? How do I handle the questions and advice from my family? How will I cope with being alone? How do I help my children through this time?

This holiday season you may be feeling apprehensive about how to navigate these next few months. Finances may be uncertain, family relationships may be strained, friendships may be undependable. The traditions you’ve enjoyed as a family will no longer be a part of your life. It’s a time of anxiety, sadness, and loneliness for many people.

It is normal and healthy to feel all of the above; however staying stuck in these emotions is optional. You can use this time as an opportunity, a chance to begin to build a new life for yourself (and for your children, if you have them.). This will take some planning and a little effort (breaking old patterns is never easy!), but the time and energy invested will become the foundation for future holidays – indeed, it is an investment in your future life!

So, here are tips for surviving (and perhaps even enjoying) the upcoming holidays as a newly single person:

  • Make a Plan- Anticipate any difficult days or events such as running into your ex at religious services, answering personal questions, spending an important evening alone, etc. Then make a plan (or several) for how to handle these potential problem spots. Being creative and thinking ahead can reduce anxiety and empower you.
  • Connect with Others- Combat loneliness and self-pity by planning for social time. Make dates with friends, family, and other singles. Don’t wait for others to call you-be proactive about scheduling time to be with those you care about.
  • Start New Traditions- Rather than mourning the loss of past traditions, start some new ones! Establish a pot luck dinner for friends, engage your children in baking treats for the nursing home, learn a craft and make handmade decorations.
  • Reconnect with your spirit- The holidays are a wonderful time to re-establish a spiritual practice. Whether it’s going to church, meditating, or walking through nature, take time to nurture the soulful part of you.
  • Reach out to those in need- Nothing cures self-pity like helping others who have less than you. Find a homeless shelter, battered women’s home, lonely elderly or children in need, and give of yourself.
  • Start a gratitude journal- It’s easy at this time of year fixate on what’s missing in your life. However, if you spend time each day focusing on all the gifts and blessings in your life (and write them in a journal), you’ll find it’s very difficult to stay angry or gloomy in the face of gratitude.
  • Be good to yourself- Treat yourself to a bubble bath and a cup of tea. Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise. Take time to read. Ask yourself “if my best friend were going through this, how would I suggest she take care of herself?”, and then treat yourself as you would your best friend!
  • Avoid sappy songs- Or, if you must listen to them, sing them to yourself!! “I can’t live without you” becomes “I can’t live without ME”. “I need your love” becomes “I need MY love”. This can be very empowering! And remember, you can turn off the radio. No one needs to hear “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas” one hundred times.
  • Avoid numbing yourself with food, alcohol, shopping or sex- Ask yourself instead, “What is the real need, that I am trying to fill with this substance or activity?” It may be connection, or rest, or reassurance. Discover what you truly need, then explore how to fulfill that need.
  • Surround yourself with inspiration and support-Post favorite verses on your computer and bathroom mirror. Make a list of upbeat, supportive friends to call when you feel blue. Read inspirational literature. Create a beautiful environment around you that uplifts and energizes you.

This holiday season, begin building your new life. Have that be your gift to yourself and to your future.

Author's Bio: 

Renee Cooper is a coach and co-founder of One Journey Consulting, a coaching and consulting practice in Wayland, MA, dedicated to personal renewal and rediscovery during life transitions such as divorce. More information can be found at