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Holiday Heartbreak 9 Tips To Move Through The Pain

admin - November 28, 2022 - 0 comments

Breakups are hard any time of the year. But what makes them seem even more painful during the holidays? Maybe it is because the holiday season provides such an ideal backdrop for love and romance. It’s hard to avoid those continual Hallmark movies depicting couples holding hands among snowflakes and twinkling lights.

Even in the “real world”, this is the time of year when we long to have someone by our side to share the festivities as well as the quiet moments.

So let’s take a closer look at some contributing factors behind holiday breakups, as well as ways to navigate the pain and begin the healing process.

Why do couples break up during holiday time?

Some therapists have actually noted an uptick in breakups this time of year. In my work with clients, I have found that increased stress is a common culprit. Added stress can arise from expectations to create the perfect holiday, financial pressures, family obligations, and more.

So instead of feeling more warmth and closeness this time of year, many couples have shared feeling overwhelmed and distanced. They are often questioning why they aren’t fulfilled in their relationship.

In addition to holiday stress, shorter days and colder weather can affect our emotions leaving some feeling seasonally depressed. This can put a strain on any relationship. Sometimes, one partner may be drinking more or wanting to isolate. Or perhaps it is the year-end reflection that causes some people to realize the relationship has become stagnant or is no longer working at all.

How breakups can affect us

The heartbreak of a divorce or breakup most notably affects us emotionally, but there are also some physical effects. When we experience the pain from losing someone we cared about our stress hormones elevate potentially leading to digestive issues, muscle tension, and increased susceptibility to illnesses like colds and viruses.

Brain scans provide another example of this mind-body connection. More specifically, they indicate that heartbreak, falling in love, and drug addiction are associated with the same area of the brain; the pleasure center.

In other words, heartbreak can actually look like cocaine withdrawal, on the imaging. These intense emotions can lead some heartbroken people to desperate reconnecting behaviors like calling their ex or stalking them on social media. So let’s take a look at some healthier more productive ways to reduce the hurt and begin to heal.

Tips for navigating holiday heartbreak

Although breakups are never easy, there are things you can do to start to feel better. Here are some suggestions to ease the pain of a breakup during the holiday season and help promote the healing process.

Find a new passion. Rather than filling the void with a new relationship too soon (rarely a good idea); this is the time to focus on you. As a newly single person, you have the freedom to use your spare time any way you please!

The possibilities are endless. Perhaps you want to take a class, volunteer, join a book club, learn an instrument or start a business.  The idea is to discover meaningful activities that bring you joy, give you purpose and elevate your self-esteem at the same time.

Change your routine and environment. The absence of your ex will be less noticeable if you make some changes. If you used to eat in front of the TV together, try having meals in the kitchen or dining room. Invite some friends to join you. Consider rearranging furniture or treating yourself to some beautiful new bedding or fresh flowers.

Remove visual reminders. This includes putting away photos, cards, or gifts from your ex. Unfriend them on social media. Avoid visiting the same restaurants and places you went to together (within reason).

Set boundaries. Holiday obligations can feel overwhelming, but there are actually no rules to be followed. Give yourself permission to decline invitations or leave events early. Consider having an intimate dinner with just your nearest and dearest.

Take yourself off the hook when it comes to shopping, decorating, and baking…unless it brings you joy. And let loved ones know you plan to keep it simple this year.

Practice self-compassion. Avoid judging yourself and your perceived mistakes. Develop an inner voice that sounds like you are talking to your best friend…supportive, reassuring and loving. Recognize that you are human and that all of us make mistakes and have regrets at times.

Take a reality check about your ex. If find yourself idealizing them and longing for the good times, remember that they are not perfect. You don’t need to ruminate on all the painful moments either. The idea is to put your ex and your former relationship in perspective.

Avoid overthinking the breakup. Our need for closure often keeps us stuck. If your ex gave you a reason for the breakup, try to accept it. If they didn’t you can reflect on your own conclusions. But try to reduce reflection time in the days and weeks ahead.

Be prepared for questions. It is inevitable that friends and family will ask about the breakup. Think of a short, diplomatic response you can use. Then feel free to switch the topic. Keep in mind, you are not obligated to share details about your private life. You know who your safe people are, and can open up to them when and if you feel comfortable.

Make time for simple pleasures. Take a walk outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the season. Treat yourself to a fragrant bath or a soothing cup of tea. Listen to your favorite music or find a gripping novel to get lost in. Find time to nurture yourself every day; you deserve it.

Remember, it is essential to make your emotional health a priority this holiday season and beyond. Chose self-care routines and activities that bring a sense of peace and rejuvenation. Moving past heartbreak takes patience and effort, but it can also be the beginning of fulfilling new experiences and relationships that you might not have pursued otherwise.


Babita Spinelli

Licensed Psychotherapist & Certified Coach.

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