Tackling your first holiday season after a recent divorce can be tough. You’re constantly confronted with happy families and messages that emphasize the “most wonderful time of the year,” but you may not feel joyous at all.

However, you don’t have to dread the holidays after a divorce. Preparing and strategizing for a successful holiday season can help you get through these hard times.

Divorce spikes right before the holidays

Most couples don’t divorce during the holiday season. It would only disrupt time spent with family and add unnecessary stress to an already-busy time of year. However, an interesting study discovered that divorce spikes shortly before the holiday season.

March and August are the two months that see the most divorce. People often take vacations over the summer, and many times couples come back from vacation with irreconcilable differences. While it may save you added stress to end your marriage before the holiday season begins, divorcing just before the holidays can heighten your feelings of sadness, loneliness and failure when the holidays finally come around.

Combating the holiday blues

Regardless of when your divorce happens, the holiday season can still be difficult. But don’t let your divorce keep you from enjoying this time of year. There are endless ways to help you manage the holidays. Three simple methods include:

  • Finding emotional support — You don’t have to spend your holidays alone. Reach out to family and friends to help you through this difficult time. Plan an activity, party or dinner gathering with your loved ones to help make your holiday season merrier.
  • Taking care of yourself — The combined stress of your divorce and the holidays can be debilitating, not to mention flu and cold season is at its peak. Your body and your mind are vulnerable, so it’s crucial that you take good care of yourself. Eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercising regularly can help reduce stress and keep illness at bay.
  • Creating new traditions — The holidays can be especially unbearable when you are constantly bombarded with reminders of old traditions you and your ex had together. If these traditions are too painful for you, establish new ones by yourself or with your family that you can continue to look forward to.

While the holiday season may be tough after a divorce, it’s possible to get through it in a healthy and enjoyable way. Finding comfort in your loved ones, making time for yourself and creating new traditions are just a few things that can help you make the most of your holiday season.