Christmas is one of my all-time favourite holidays, and a time for me personally that has a particular focus on family. It’s a time to take stock of what you have and be grateful for it. Families will often come together to celebrate, give gifts, eat too much and spend quality time together without the outside pressures of everyday life. Some of my best memories are of my family spending time together during Christmas and the joy and excitement of Christmas morning.

However, what do you do if your family is different to the one that celebrated Christmas last year?

With Christmas fast approaching it’s important to note that there are some of us who will have an entirely different Christmas experience coming up than years past. These people might have experienced a separation in the past year from their long term partner, lost a loved one, or have parenting arrangements in place that provide for their children to be with the other parent over Christmas this year. These life changing events make it incredibly difficult for people who are struggling to adjust to a Christmas that will be unlike any previous Christmas’ enjoyed in the past.

If you are one of those people who identify with the dreaded feeling of the upcoming holiday period and are only a few weeks out from navigating a newly broken Christmas here are a few tips to try to help you face the silly season without unnecessary suffering and hopefully creating some new and happy Christmas memories.

  1. Compile a list of Christmas rituals and salvage the rituals you treasure the most. It’s important to try to have a bit of Christmas spirit even if you might feel like the Christmas Grinch.
  1. Make a plan for the day, stick to that plan and surround yourself with those in your support system who understand that you are going through a tough time.
  1. Don’t be too afraid to build something new and create fresh memories that you will begin to treasure in years to come.
  1. Treat yourself to some well-deserved downtime over the Christmas break. Do anything that you enjoy doing, pick up an old hobby or spend time nurturing yourself with some relaxing baths, a massage, a sleep in and read those books that you never got around to reading.
  1. Appreciate and acknowledge that there will be an element of sadness to the day that will always be there.

Finally, if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the stresses of the upcoming Christmas period, please take the time to see a counsellor for some advice on post-separation parenting or how to manage Christmas without your ex-partner there. There is no shame in getting some assistance and speaking to someone who can help you manage what can be a stressful period of time. There are many going through similar feelings to what you are feeling.

Taking these steps will hopefully help you get through the Christmas holidays with less anxiety and leave you with a great feeling of accomplishment for being able to get through a tough time. Yes things will never be the same again, but with change comes new opportunities to embrace.