The holiday season, while often marked by joy and togetherness, can also be a time of stress and emotional turmoil for those going through a divorce. The merriment and festive cheer might seem like a stark contrast to the personal upheaval they're experiencing, making the pain even more palpable. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive guide on coping with the holiday blues amidst divorce.
Why Are the Holidays So Stressful?
Beneath the glittering lights and festive cheer, the holidays can also be a period of immense stress for many. The pressure to find the perfect gifts, the strain of financial expenses, the hustle of planning gatherings and meals, and the expectations to create picture-perfect moments can all contribute to heightened anxiety and stress. The holidays can also sometimes amplify feelings of loneliness and sadness, especially for those who might be away from their loved ones.
Here are a few statistics that highlight how difficult the holidays are for people:
- The nationwide survey titled "Beating the Holiday Burn," which involved over 2,000 American participants aged 18 and above, revealed that the holiday season often triggers a range of stressors, from emotional tension to overeating, leading to heartburn. The study shockingly found that a staggering 88% of Americans experience stress during holiday celebrations.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) discovered in 2014 that the holiday season exacerbates the conditions of 64% of individuals with mental illness. A 2021 study later indicated that holidays negatively affect the mental health of three out of every five Americans.
- A study by Walgreens found that holiday stress is getting worse each year. In their 2021 study, 43% of the 2,000 survey respondents shared that they were more stressed that year than in 2020 during the holidays.
- A 2019 study conducted by Total Brain showed that more than a third of Americans would have liked to skip the holidays, and those who are parents experience holiday stress earlier than others (as early as the beginning of November).
McLean Hospital has a helpful guide that outlines signs that you are struggling around the holidays. It includes tips on what to do if you notice these signs in yourself or others and when you should consider reaching out for professional help. You can read that guide here.
The Paradox of Holidays & Divorce
Navigating a divorce during this already stressful period can exacerbate these feelings manifold. The emotional turmoil associated with the end of a marital relationship can feel particularly poignant during a time that emphasizes family and togetherness.
The absence of a partner during holiday traditions, the division of time spent with children, if any, and the potential for uncomfortable interactions with extended family members can add layers of complexity and stress. It's a stark reminder of a significant life change, making the holiday season a challenging time to navigate.
While navigating the holiday season amidst a divorce can be challenging, there are several strategies that can help mitigate the emotional distress:
- Planning holiday activities with loved ones. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family can significantly alleviate feelings of loneliness and sadness. Organize a small gathering, a movie night, or even a simple dinner. The key is to foster an environment of love and support.
- Focusing on self-care. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being. Engage in activities you enjoy, exercise regularly, and ensure you're getting enough sleep. Research shows that physical activity can boost mood and reduce anxiety2.
- Redefining holiday traditions. While it's natural to mourn the loss of shared traditions, it's equally important to create new ones. This could be anything from volunteering at a local charity to starting a holiday book club.
- Seeking professional help. If feelings of sadness and anxiety persist, it may be helpful to seek professional help. Therapists and support groups can provide valuable coping mechanisms and a safe space to express your feelings.
Divorce Attorneys Serving PA & NJ
William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys can help alleviate some of your stress. When you retain our divorce services, you can trust that your case is in good hands, as our firm offers personalized services and customized solutions.
Reach out to schedule a consultation today. Call (215) 515-9901.