Your divorce was finalized late last summer. You and your children have still been adjusting to a new normal. Now, the holidays are approaching, and you know things won’t be the same. You won’t have custody of your children on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve. You had a tradition of having a movie marathon for New Year’s Eve – another time your kids will be with you ex this year.

How are you going to approach this holiday season when you know you’ll be without your kids on important days? Navigating your first holiday season after divorce isn’t easy. You may struggle with your emotions around not having your children with you at a Thanksgiving feast or holiday celebration with extended family.

Here a few tips that can help you during your first holiday season after divorce:

  1. Manage your expectations. You know this year will be different. Find some ways to practice self-care on days you’ll be on your own or reframe your mindset. Instead of wallowing on Christmas Eve, go to a special Christmas Eve service or watch some of your favorite holiday movies on TV.
  2. Plan ahead. On days you know you won’t have your children, plan to spend time with other family or close friends.
  3. Create new holiday traditions. Perhaps, you could have a gingerbread house decorating contest with your kids. Or you could make handmade ornaments for your tree this year or prepare a meal with dishes celebrating your heritage. Finding a way to change things up and make special memories can help you feel better about how you celebrated the holidays.
  4. Find ways to give to others. It always feels good to help others. So, if you’ll be alone on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, you could volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
  5. Get plenty of exercise and eat healthy. Getting exercise will release more endorphins in your body, reducing the chances you’ll be depressed. Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol and excessive gluten – all of these can heighten your anxiety.

Facing the holiday season after divorce can evoke a lot of emotions: sadness, anger and frustration. By following these tips and trying to keep a positive mindset, you can help keep negative emotions at bay and enjoy the time you have with your children, family and friends.