The holiday season is here, and it can be especially difficult for those who have recently experienced a breakup, or experiencing their first holiday season without their partner. Here are 5 key points to help a broken heart through the holidays.
- Plan – Have a plan for what you will be doing on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Even if the plans do not seem to be the ideal place you want to be, it may be helpful to be around those you feel supported by. More often than not, I hear clients explain their hesitation to use their support system during time of need because of fear of being a burden. While this is an understandable feeling, I ask clients to think of the last time their friends or family really needed their emotional support. Go ahead and think of the last time someone you really cared for reached out to you when they were feeling low. Now, what would it be like for you if that never happened? If your friend or family member didn’t want to burden you with their challenges? Common responses are, “well, I guess I would be fine either way” or “that would really suck! I would want to be there for them.” If you answered similarly, then I would say use your support system! Being around people you are the most comfortable with during the holidays may be helpful for you.
- Allow for some wallowing – Try your best to find a balance of wallowing. Remember, you are grieving no matter how long your relationship was. Cut yourself some slack, and allow for some expression of that sadness daily. It may even be helpful to set a timer for this wallowing. Clients have expressed that allowing themselves to cry in the shower, and “get it all out” has been helpful. They find “letting it out” in their own space, allows them to keep their composure longer during their day. Crying in the shower may not be for you, but finding your outlet may be helpful especially if you are around those who are finding joy during the holidays
- Self-care – It may be easy to overlook your mental, physical, and spiritual health around the holidays and during a breakup. Try to put this higher up in your priorities. You are processing a lot during this time, and getting yourself to be as balanced as you can be at this time is beneficial. Again, remember cut yourself some slack. Don’t expect yourself to be exactly who you were pre breakup. Physical exercise may look different now. For example, it may be taking your dog out for a walk for 20 min, or doing some yoga stretches in your living room. Take baby steps and be patient with yourself. It also may be helpful to practice 10 minutes of self-care as preparation before attending a holiday event.
- Gratitude – Try to keep some focus on the positive experiences during your day. One way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. Clients I have worked with have expressed how much they value the time they spend before bed, jotting at least one thing they were grateful for during the day. The purpose of this exercise is not to ignore the pain experienced after a breakup, but to help move the blinders and see other things that you are still experiencing daily apart from the grief.
- Be prepared – Holidays usually involve social events that may bring you around a wide range of people. You never really know where the conversation with people may lead, there is a possibility you will get asked why your relationship ended. Don’t feel pressured to give details to others. Sometimes this may be a way others around you show that they care; others just may want to know what happened. Either way, you don’t want to be blindsided by this question. Preparing and rehearsing a quick general response may help you to feel less overwhelmed if asked.
Breakups are challenging and the way we experience a breakup is unique to us. With that said, I hope this post helps you to create your own guide to manage the pain associated with a breakup during the holiday season. Be patient and gentle with yourself during this process. Remember to use your resources around you, whether it be family, friends, or even therapy.