Having Happier, Healthier Post-Divorce Holidays

Weathering the holidays after a divorce can be difficult for a newly-single parent. You’re trying to make sure the season is a fun, festive time for kids whose family photos will likely look a lot different this year than last, while possibly balancing the wants and needs of the other parent.  

But, even with all of those demands, it’s critical to take care of your own physical and mental health, particularly if the despair of divorce left you depressed. Here are some suggestions that could help you and your loved ones have a happier holiday season. 

Share the Season 

Under most circumstances, both divorced parents should share the joys of the season with their children. To make that as painless as possible for everyone involved, it’s important to set a schedule you can agree on and communicate clearly. Rather than visiting one another’s new homes — which may well be decked with holiday decorations you once shared, or sadly under-adorned — consider dropping off and picking up the kids on some neutral ground that’s festively festooned for the season.   

If the kids are staying with your ex for a while, make plans to spend time with others rather than going it alone. You may also consider joining a support group or signing up for volunteer opportunities. Doing for others will help keep you from dwelling on your divorce, according to Divorce Magazine. Studies have also shown that volunteering can lower depression, increase people’s sense of well being, and even lead to a longer life span. Experts say the positive effects could come from the good feelings volunteering creates, the increased social connections, or the simple act of getting off the couch.   

In addition to making time for others, you should devote some days to self-care. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating right, and exercising. Burning off some calories justifies some guilt-free holiday indulgences. Finding time during the hectic holiday season to work up a sweat and balancing good nutrition with an occasional slice of pie will also help boost your spirits without having the same effect on your weight.  

Watch the Weather 

If your mood declines with the temperature, don’t discount depression as a run-of-the-mill bout with the winter blues. It might be a case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For most, symptoms start in the fall, stretch into the winter months, and become more pronounced as the season continues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although it’s less common, spring and summer bring on seasonal affective disorder for some. In either case, symptoms could include changes in appetite or weight, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating.   

Specifically, symptoms of fall- and winter-onset seasonal affective disorder could include:  

  • Oversleeping 
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates 
  • Weight gain 
  • Tiredness or low energy   

It’s normal to have some down days, especially after a life-changing event like divorce. But if you feel depressed for extended stretches and can’t get excited and motivated to participate in activities you typically enjoy, it might be time to seek help. This is especially true if your appetite and sleep habits have changed or if you indulge in alcohol to feel comfortable or relaxed. If you have persistent thoughts of death or suicide, it’s critical to call your doctor even if you haven’t experienced other signs of depression.    

After a divorce, you may feel as though you’re doing double duty as a parent during the holidays. But taking care of your own physical and mental well-being when you have so much to do for friends and family isn’t seasonal selfishness. Rather, it’s essential to helping everyone have a happier, healthier holiday season that will bring up warm memories for years to come. 

Author is Paige Johnson      Paige is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist.  website













How to Enjoy a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

Feel like everybody but you is going to drink alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day? It may seem like you’re the only sober person left in your city – or heck, even your country – but that’s simply not the case. In fact, just 20% of adults of adults plan to consume alcoholic beverages on St. Patrick’s Day. Even if your entire family or group of friends typically down brewskies on March 17th, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy this holiday while remaining sober. From documenting the night for pals to transporting folks around town, here are 4 ways to have a blast this St. Patrick’s Day without consuming adult beverages.

Become a Designated Driver

Approximately 1 out of 3 driving-related deaths involve alcohol. If you don’t want your loved ones to become part of that statistic, offer to drive them to and from their St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. You don’t have to actually attend the events with them unless you’re comfortable doing so; you can bring a book or electronic device and wait in the vehicle until they’re ready to leave.

Want to make some extra cash while you transport intoxicated passengers? Apply to drive for services such as Lyft or Uber.

Photograph Pals

Stay busy during St. Patty’s Day festivities if you want to avoid the urge to drink alcoholic beverages. One way to do this is by grabbing your camera or smartphone and following your friends around as they engage in drunken adventures. Avoid taking photos of anything that may embarrass them or make them uncomfortable the next day, like if they’re throwing up in a potted plant or falling down drunk in the street.

Arrive Prepared

You may find it easier to decline offers for alcoholic drinks if you bring your own beverage with you. Some restaurants don’t allow outside drinks, but you can probably show up with soda, juice, or water if you attend a house party or St. Patrick’s Day parade.

You may also want to bring some healthy snacks with you. Sometimes people mistake hunger for thirst, so you may find it easier to resist beer or whiskey if your belly is full.

Chill With Other Sober People

If you’ve battled  alcohol addiction or abuse in the past, you’re not alone. More than 15 million American adults  have experienced an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and approximately 1.3 million of them have sought treatment from a facility that specializes in addressing this condition. Depending on how well you’re doing with the long-term treatment of your condition, you may find it stressful to mingle with intoxicated people or attend events where alcohol is present. Luckily, there are tons of people who are also in recovery for AUD, as well as people who have never consumed alcohol in the first place.

Not sure where to find sober folks? Start your search at Alcoholics Anonymous. This well-known association offers meetings  around the world for people struggling with alcohol dependence. Meetings are held 7 days a week, even on holidays, so you can easily find a group of like-minded people to spend time with on March 17th. The organization also offers events for members, such as bowling or swimming, so that may be an option if you don’t want to sit at a meeting.

If you’re religious or don’t mind attending a Christ-based treatment program, you can find sober friends at Celebrate Recovery meetings. Meetings aren’t held as often as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but you can request for your local church to launch the program if you don’t already have one in your area.

You don’t have to spend St. Patrick’s Day cuddled up on the couch with your pets – unless you want to, of course. Follow the tips above to have a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day without consuming a single drop of alcohol.

Author Sarah Lockwood put together The Prevention Coalition after watching her daughter struggle with addiction for years. With The Prevention Coalition, Sarah provides an online forum where loved ones of people dealing with substance abuse can meet and get support.

Holiday European River Cruise to Christmas Markets

img_3143Holiday River Cruise to European Christmas Markets

Take a European river cruise to enchanting Christmas markets to get you in the holiday spirit. My sons and I had wanted to do this for a decade and finally went on a Viking River Cruise last December originating in Budapest and terminating in Munich. Although we had been to most of the places before, these cities are very different at this time of year with the incredible wooden stalls decked out in Christmas finery. Pack for both Artic and spring like conditions as weather can be a bit unpredictable. Throw in a few smart outfits for the evenings, but nothing formal. The beauty of river cruises as opposed to ocean ones, is that they are docked in the centre of the city in the midst of the festivities. The Christmas markets are usually about a ten minute walk from the ship, which is lovely for quick strolls after dinner. The wooden stalls full of toys, ornaments, food and much more are lit up like a fairyland in the evenings. What is nice about these markets is that one is buying directly from the artists, bakers and toymakers. The markets are often in the heart of the city near the shops, which makes ticking items off your holiday gift list quite easy.

A Christmas river cruise is on a ship of around 100 to 150 passengers. There is much mixing and interactions among the passengers. Meals are open seating with dinner at a specified time with beer and wine included. Activities take place in the lounge and this is a time to mingle with others. One night we had a German Children’s Choir who sang carols in either German or English. They were adorable. There are a variety of lectures, concerts, folkloric dances, a cooking demonstration and so much more.

There is an on board library with reference books and games. There are shelves of books that others can take and replace with one that they have read. I really like the cappuccino/hot chocolate machine that is available round the clock. In the afternoons, local cookies and pastries are provided. The young European staff are amazing and the concierge will arrange for tickets, taxis, reservations or whatever is desired on shore. The holiday décor on the ship is exquisite.

The itinerary includes city excursions which may very slightly during the winter. In the summer we went to a marvellous organ concert in Passau, Germany. On this cruise we went to a gingerbread store that had been in the same family for generations instead. It was interesting learning about the different types of gingerbread and nibbling on the samples. One Christmas market was a bit of a drive, and that was in lovely Salzburg. Fun to see where “The Sound of Music” was filmed. They had quite an extensive market and a very walkable city.  Please read more