November and December are often the most difficult months of the year for divorced fathers, especially if you just recently went through the breakup.
On top of going through one of life’s most difficult transitions, you also must deal with the traditional hustle and bustle of the holidays. There is a good chance you’ll be spending at least part of the season away from your children, which can compound the difficult emotions you’re already feeling.
Coping with all this is daunting and the stress can seem overwhelming. When that’s the case, psychologist Andra Brosh recommends utilizing the practice of mindfulness to help you through the process.
“The concept of mindfulness in a traditional sense is really about being present with your experiences in general, but mostly your emotions,” Brosh said. “So it’s really about letting yourself feel what you’re feeling and letting it move through you and then not holding a lot of judgment over that and being very present.”
Brosh personally went through a divorce several years ago right before Thanksgiving. The problem with divorce, she said, is it pulls your emotions in all different directions. Your mind often fixates on thoughts of the past about how things used to be and what went wrong in your relationship. Then your thoughts race to wondering about the future as you ponder whether life will ever return to normalcy.
By utilizing mindfulness to cultivate a sense of groundedness, Brosh said she was able to avoid much of the overactive thinking that can hinder divorce recovery.
“You want to force yourself to be in the present, even though people don’t want to be in the present because it’s the worst place to be when you’re going through a divorce,” she said. “It’s really about rooting and grounding yourself in the moment and trying to use that as a way to try to feel grounded at a time when the rug’s been pulled out from under you.”
As a practical way to utilize mindfulness, Brosh recommended taking up any hobby that has a sense of ritual to it. Activities like meditation, yoga and any type of exercise are often helpful in keeping your mind in the present.
Meditating might be an unfamiliar and intimidating concept if you’ve never tried it before, but many divorcees have found the practice helpful in getting through their breakup.
If the concept is new to you, start slow. Check out this step-by-step guide on meditating for beginners.
The great thing about these practices is they don’t take a big time commitment and can be utilized throughout the day wherever you are and regardless of what you’re doing. Even taking just five minutes a day for reflection can help you heal and lead to personal growth.
It is typical for divorced dads to encounter feelings of loneliness this time of year. You might even be spending Thanksgiving or Christmas alone for the first time in many years.
However, while this scenario isn’t what you want, it doesn’t have to be a total negative.
“I would encourage people to use that as a time for reflection to kind of say, ‘OK, I am going to be alone so how am I going to use that time?’” Brosh said. “Not, ‘How am I going to get through it?’ But, ‘How can I utilize this to be beneficial.’
“Solitude and being alone can be a really huge healing time. So if you can make it something beautiful for yourself and carve it out and say, ‘OK, I’m going to do this as a form of health care,’ it can be a great way to approach being alone over the holidays.”