The Holiday Season is Also Breakup Season
Along with being the holiday season, it’s also “Breakup Season.” According to Facebook and their data, breakups trend around this time of the year (which of course also happens to be the most inconvenient time of the year to have a relationship end).
While wonderful and exciting for some, the holiday season is difficult for many. Holidays can bring up old and painful memories, cause feelings of loneliness and is often a recipe for stress (family-related stress, financial stress, travel stress). Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder (or “seasonal depression”) is DEFINITELY a thing. The lack of sunlight and drop in temperature can put you in a real deep funk and make it that much harder to follow through and stick with healthy routines and cause general feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
So, when you add a breakup into the mix, it can make everything feel that much more unbearable. You might be bracing yourself for all the questions, comments and opinions from your overly concerned family members. There may be gifts purchased and plans you made with your ex that feel like they are haunting you. Or just the thought of celebrating the holidays without your ex could be painful and you don’t know how you will get through the holidays without completely breaking down.
Regardless of the circumstances, breakups are never easy, especially when the relationship was serious or long-term. Breakups can cause shock, self-doubt, and feelings of hopelessness. It can often feel like grief or loss. So, it is important for you to remind yourself that it is OKAY for you to feel sad. It is OKAY for you to be in this space. While you might be feeling like you “should” feel this way or that (“I should be enjoying the holidays,” “I should be happy to spend time with my family”).
Know that you are grieving and it may take some time for you to heal and feel like yourself again. And that is OKAY.
4 Tips to Survive & After a Holiday Breakup
With all that being said, how do you survive the holidays? How do you deal with the questions and nosiness of family? How do you hold it together? Here are some helpful tips.
Be kind to yourself. Know that you don’t have to fake a smile and that you don’t have to feel or be happy. You are going through a tough time and it is okay to feel sad (even during the holidays).
- Ask yourself how you would speak to a friend.
- What advice would you give her? How would you comfort her? (You probably wouldn’t tell her to “Get over it” and just enjoy the holidays right?)
- Speak to yourself with kindness and compassion.
- Give yourself permission to cry and be sad when that is what you need.
- Know that you can always skip out of a party or leave early if you aren’t feeling up to it or need time by yourself
- Come up with your “line”: You don’t have to explain yourself or your relationship or share ANY details at all about your breakup (if you don’t want to). It’s your business and you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Think about how you want to respond to questions/interrogations from family. Come up with a one-liner to use and set boundaries.
- “We broke up but I don’t want to talk about it right now,”
- “I appreciate you asking but I don’t feel like talking about it,”
- “Thanks for asking/checking in but I would rather not talk about it”
The holidays are a time of eating, drinking and traveling which can take a HUGE toll on your body. It can be easy to forget or neglect those healthy habits that you typically practice to take care of both your physical and mental health.
- Exercise: get those endorphins going! Even if it is just a short walk or 30 min gym session. Exercise can help you think more clearly and improve your mood.
- Nutrition: make sure there is some balance in your diet and that you eat food with nutritious value! Take vitamins! Remember to drink water!
It’s easy to spiral when we are in a bad headspace. Remind yourself of the things you have to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude can be grounding and help us during tough times.
- Write them down every day before bed or when you wake up.
- Say them out loud.
- Share what you are grateful for with others.
Give back/honor your values:
It is easy to lose sight of our values and things that are important to us during the holidays. In today’s culture, there is so much focus on social media and posting pictures with our significant others, scenes from our exotic travels and holiday trips and lengthy captions about how grateful and fortunate we are (for all the things). There is so much comparing and it can be SO isolating. By giving back and honoring your values, you will feel more fulfilled and experience more moments of joy.
- Seek volunteer opportunities.
- Spend time with people you love and feel connected to.
- Reinforce your faith and spirituality.
- Do things that bring YOU joy during the holidays (wearing fun holiday sweaters, baking, spending time outside in the crisp air, watching sports, giving gifts)
By practicing these strategies you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday season even if you’ve experienced a holiday breakup this year. Remember to give yourself a little extra self-care this year and give yourself permission to not be as joyful as you might usually be. Just like the holiday season passes quickly, you’ll heal and move past the hurt of your breakup.
About the Author
Leah Aguirre is a licensed clinical social worker & psychotherapist in San Diego, CA. Leah prioritizes mental health issues because she’s experienced issues with anxiety herself and believes every woman will face their own struggles with mental health at some point in their life. She specializes in helping individuals who experience challenges with relationships, dating and self-esteem through both individual and group sessions. Visit Leah online at https://leahaguirrelcsw.com/