By Eva Ritvo MD

"surviving divorce during the holidays"If it’s the first holiday season you’re celebrating following a painful divorce, feelings of anxiety and sadness should not ruin your holidays with your family and friends. Holidays are a time when you imagine a “picture perfect” family that now seems very far from your reality as you cope with the pressures of your divorce. While you may be going through a grieving process following the loss of your spouse, recognize that it’s not the end of the world and certainly not the end of your pursuit of happiness for the rest of your life.

Here are some helpful tips to make the holidays meaningful and joyful during your painful transition:

1. Don’t think you’re the only one facing this problem. In the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

2. Stay in the present. Don’t dwell on holidays in the past. Try to make the present and future your new reality and put more meaning and traditions into your holiday than before.

3. Take care of yourself. Now’s not the time to let yourself neglect your health. Pamper yourself with a massage or a new haircut; go to a movie or make more plans with your friends to give yourself an emotional boost. In my book “The Beauty Prescription” we encourage women to find a “beauty buddy” to share beauty and together time to make them feel more attractive and alive.

4. Study something new. If you’ve always wanted to study a new language or take up a new hobby like painting or ceramics, sign up for classes that would begin right after the holidays.

5. Be the adult parent for your children. Try to minimize fights on the phone prior to the holidays to make them as pleasant as possible for your kids.

6. Spread good cheer. If you had good relationships with your “ex’s” parents or siblings, extend holiday greetings to them even if they are the ones who act uncomfortable. They might not reciprocate but it will make you feel better.

Eva Ritvo MD, co-author of The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful (McGraw-Hill) is a Miami psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She is also the lead author of the Concise Guide to Marriage and Family Therapy and has written the chapters on Family and Couples Therapy for the leading psychiatric textbooks. For more on the book and on Eva, please go to: .

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