10 Best Places to Find a Date IRL Life After Divorce Just Got Better

10 Best Places to Find a Date IRL Life After Divorce Just Got Better

With so many online dating websites and apps, trying to find a date can start to feel a little overwhelming, especially if you’re hot off a divorce. Meeting someone in real life (IRL) can be refreshing and much more meaningful. The best thing you can do is try to get out as much as possible. Spending all your free time at home, hiding behind your computer or smartphone isn’t the best way to get over a divorce. And don’t hide behind your screen when you’re out in public, either. People are much less likely to come up and start a conversation with you if you’re in your own world on your phone.

Why You Should Find a Date IRL

There seems to be an endless opportunity for dates in the online world, which is precisely the problem. The fact that there are so many options means people think they can sift through different apps until they find an ideal human they’ve conjured up in their minds. But dating apps encourage you to sit behind a screen rather than getting out there to meet new people. The problem with dating apps is that people are always thinking about the potential that the next person they come across could be better than the one they’re talking to right now. It’s often a never-ending cycle of feeling unsatisfied because of the possibility that there’s something better out there.

Getting out into the real world, you’re forced to be confident, be friendly and make meaningful connections with real people who aren’t at home scrolling through their phones waiting for the next best thing. Always make sure to smile and start a conversation with someone, even if it’s just to say hi. These small interactions will get you ready for more meaningful conversations that come your way.

If you’re ready to get back into the dating game after divorce, here are 10 of the best places to score a date IRL.

1. A Friend’s Get Together/Party

Meeting someone through a friend is one of the most popular ways to find a date. In fact, ReportLinker found that 58% of single Americans meet potential dates through friends. They’ve already got your friend’s stamp of approval, and you may be more comfortable knowing they aren’t a total stranger. When your friends throw a get-together or party, try to make it out to as many as you can and talk to as many people as you can. The more people you meet and the more you get yourself out there, the better chance you have to find a date.

2. The Gym

Do you spend lots of time at the gym? It may be a good place to find your next date. I know multiple couples who are now living together who first met at their gym. If you’re a regular at your local gym, you start to see familiar faces that spend their time there too. And you already have something in common you can chat about (fitness!). When you’re working out, your endorphins and adrenaline are already high, so it’s a good time to put yourself out there.

3. A Coffee Shop

Do you work out of office? Or enjoy spending Saturday mornings at your neighborhood coffee shop? There are likely other singles who are doing the same. Many people keep to themselves at coffee shops, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally closed off to a conversation. Test the waters. You can usually tell within the first few seconds whether someone is up for chatting or not. Start a conversation around the book they’re reading or the drink they ordered. You never know who you could meet!

4. The Dog Park

If you have a dog, take them to a dog park rather than just walking around the streets in your neighborhood. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation with another dog owner, and the fact that you’re both animal lovers can make your connection even stronger. Don’t keep to yourself at the dog park, put yourself out there and meet people. Your next date could be waiting for you.

5. Your Local Bar

It may seem cliché, but it’s still entirely possible to find a date at a bar. Just make sure you don’t get obnoxiously intoxicated before trying to find one. A drink can give you some liquid courage but stick to one or two at most if you’re trying to meet a woman. A bar with live music is always a good bet, and the band that’s playing could be the perfect starting point for a conversation.

6. A Bookstore

A bookstore is a great place to meet someone new IRL. A lot of people love browsing and spend hours on end at bookstores, and you know anyone who’s there values literature and learning, which are excellent values to hold. It’s a great way to form a connection with another book lover who you share common ground with.  

7. Travel

If you have the time and money, travel as much as you can. There’s something about getting out of your own city that makes you more confident and not as scared of rejection. Obviously, the only problem with this is that you’ll have to go back home eventually. But if you’re looking to get back in the dating game with a few dates, traveling and meeting new people can be the best way to do it! Who knows, you might even happen to meet someone who’s on vacation from your hometown.

8. Join Extra-Curricular Activities

Do you like to cook? Play soccer? Sketch or paint? Join an extra-curricular activity you’ll enjoy doing on a weekly basis. It will be filled with others who have the same interest, which makes it easy to get to know people. It’s easier for some people to meet and talk to others in a group setting, so if that sounds like you, joining an extra-curricular might be your best bet!

9. Take a Class

Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about? Or something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? Take a class. You’ll get to meet a lot of like-minded people, and who knows, you could end up hitting it off with someone. You already know you have something in common and the class will give you tons of talking points to work with.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Set Up

Ask your friends and family members if they have anyone in their circle that would be a good match for you. Don’t be scared to get set up on a date; it could end up being the best date you’ve ever been on. Your friends know you best and likely only hang out with people you would like, so trust them if they say they want to set you up with someone. They only have your best interests in mind, and especially since they know you just went through a divorce, they’ll only set you up with the best of the best.

Are you ready to find a date IRL? Try out some of these places and see how easy it can be when you put yourself out there!

(c) Can Stock Photo / AntonioGuillem

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5 Ways to Find Trust After Divorce Relax – It Won’t Happen Overnight

5 Ways to Find Trust After Divorce Relax – It Won’t Happen Overnight

Divorce breaks your trust. It shatters your previously held believe how the people around you can stick with you through all the situations of life. I spent a lot of time exploring how I could regain the trust after divorce impacted my life.

When I went through it three years ago, I knew that I would be okay. It was not the end of the world as some people make it think. Society does not shun the divorced.

The challenge I had was figuring out how I could ever trust a woman again.

This is a big issue. After all, experts tell us that trusting your partner is one of the biggest predictors of success in a relationship.

The strategies I discuss below come from my experiences on the path to regaining this trust. I hope you benefit from my experiences.

Five strategies to find trust after divorce

1. Take some time for yourself

Divorce is tough. I thought I could handle anything before the divorce. Whoa! Was I wrong!

I knew things were not working right for a little while. However, when my ex finally discussed the break, I admit the event jaded me more than I could imagine.

After wanting to make it work for so long, it felt like I could trust no one except my immediate family and friends. Even then the potential for others to let me down was an ever-present fear. The one person I could rely upon was me.

I needed time to internalize what happened. My first solution to trust after the divorce was to take a sabbatical from dating.

I spent the next year regaining the trust I had in myself and then in others.

I started by striking out on my own. My parents offered me a couch for a month to get back on my feet. I refused. I need my space. To prove that I could do it on my own again.

Stupid…maybe. Needed…definitely.

Next, I reconnected with old friends I had not seen in a decade or more. My favorite was the road trip up to my old college where I crashed with a friend for a weekend on their couch.

The trip reminded me of old times and brought back a lot of great memories.

Once I did that, I also started working on improving my skills. For me, I wanted to learn some new career skills.

Fun fact: Did you know improving your business strategy skills can improve your paycheck by 4.3%? Contract negotiation skills can improve your paycheck another 5%.

The more I learn, the more comfortable I feel with my career. This gives me confidence in other areas of my life so that I can trust others.

2. Date for fun

Once you feel better about yourself, you want to trust others after divorce. The best way to do this is to go on a date.

Being single in your thirties is very different from being single in your twenties. When I dated in my twenties, you had dating websites. Not you have apps where you grade everyone within 2 seconds. It removes a lot of the personalization.

However, if you want to get out there, you must do it. 40 million Americans now use dating apps to find their partner. One in 10 people use them to find their next date. The big question becomes Tinder or Plenty of Fish? We could do something more local or based on similarities.

The choices are endless, and you parade through a gazillion potential matches in minutes. I might exaggerate a little, but this is what it feels like for someone who grew up in an era when the people dating online seemed a bit odd.

The first few dates were a disaster. However, that is why you go on a date with the first decent woman who swipes right for you. You need to get them out of your system.

You almost need a new woman to complain about besides the ex. Think about the new vistas of opportunity.

3. Keep Dating  

Once you go on those first few dates, you get a little bit of your swagger back. You remember it really was her, and not you.

You also realize someday you can feel comfortable trusting someone again. This is what happened to me. After more dating apps than I care to discuss, I found an app that seemed like gold to me. The dating app was JSwipe. It is like the Tinder for Jews.

I went on some dates, and just as I was about to take a break, I went on one last date. We ended up talking for three hours at a coffee shop on our first date.

We are closing in on our one-year anniversary, and it reminds me that I learned I can trust after divorce.

4. The Kids

I dodged one of the biggest divorce bullets out there. I did not have kids. However, I have many friends who had kids when they divorced. It complicates things. You need someone who not only you can trust after divorce, but your kids can trust as well.

For example, one friend had a daughter. His divorce proceedings lasted five years when the mother suddenly decided in the middle of the divorce she wanted to move back to Green Bay from Chicago.

They both lived in Chicago and split custody. Challenges like this encourage couples to stay together. Over time, he also found someone he could trust. However, early attempts at this did not go so well.

This is why it is not surprising the divorce rate is 40% lower for couples who have a child. It unites the parents when they work on something greater than themselves.

If that is not possible, then it happens. Just take it slow for all sides. While you might be excited for your new squeeze to see your family, your kids might not. Make sure your kids are ready before you introduce them to a potential stepmother.

5. Learning from earlier mistakes

I told my new significant other that fear not, I plan to make a whole new category of mistakes with her. While I said it in jest, it has merit.

As Winston Churchill once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

The hardest challenge is not to compare what happened before to your current situation. I know, because I constantly remind myself just because the ex did this does not mean my girlfriend will. 

This means I need to approach things in a different light.

The biggest part of is you need to be open and honest with your partner to find a solution. You never have all the answers. Getting a different person’s perspective can help you sort through whatever challenges you have whether large or small.

Finally, you need to have a sense of humor about the mistakes you made in the past as well as the upcoming mistakes. Laughter is really the best medicine for solving your challenges.

Final Thoughts

Regaining your trust after a divorce does not happen overnight. However, with the right temperament, you can do it.

The strategies you use depends upon your specific situation. For example, if you had kids then you might need to use some different strategies than if you divorced without children.

Additionally, in some cases, you might want to start dating sooner rather than later. The key is that you need to be able to finish a conversation without talking about your ex.

(c) Can Stock Photo / focalpoint

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The Body and Mind Connection How Divorce Can Be Making You Sick

The Body and Mind Connection How Divorce Can Be Making You Sick

We’ve all pondered the question “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. A similar question exists in the world of mental health: “is the body sick because the mind is distraught, or is the mind distraught due to sickness of the body?” Regardless the answer, there are two things we know to be true: first, an understanding that a body and mind connection exists. Second, it is this connection that helps explain why divorce can be making you sick – physically and mentally.

A Quick Education on Stress

Divorce can trigger a multitude of emotions. Anger, sadness, and loneliness, just to name a few. The emotional response differs depending on the individual, but one thing seems to remain consistent for all: the event is stressful. In fact, stress might be the word most commonly used to succinctly summarize how an individual going through a divorce is feeling.

While stress is most certainly a contributor to health issues, and we often think of “stress” as solely a negative, it’s important to understand that not all stress is created equal. Some stress is actually good for us. That’s right; there is a kind of stress that is short lived and serves to motivate and propel us through various situations. It even has a name: eustress. There are not lasting, detrimental physical or psychological effects of eustress.

Harmful stress, known simply as “stress” (hence the negative association with the term), is the kind of stress that wreaks havoc on our body and mind. Stress that leaves the body in a heightened state of arousal over a period of time eventually leads to issues of the body and mind.

Whether an event is triggering good or harmful stress is dependent upon the individual as the physiological reaction in the body is all the same. This physiological response is known as “fight or flight” and is the work of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It is responsible for elements of bodily functioning, which occur automatically and are essential for life (i.e., heart rate and respiratory rate, pupillary dilation, sexual arousal, etc.).

Before you totally check out with all this technical jargon, let’s talk in metaphoric terms.

The sympathetic nervous system triggers the fight or flight response (adrenaline pumping, increased heart, and breathing, dilated pupils). It’s like pressing on the accelerator in a car. The parasympathetic nervous system works to return the body to a normal, resting state of functioning. In our car analogy, the parasympathetic nervous system is the breaks. When a car is moving through traffic with a steady flow of acceleration and braking, all is well. This would be eustress. But if that same car has an accelerator that’s stuck or breaks that don’t work, it speeds through traffic in a way that is dangerous and unlikely to end well. Just like stress. A body in a heightened state of arousal for a period of time will eventually crash.

Body and Mind Connection: Physical & Mental Illness Explained

There is a powerful connection between the body and mind that contributes to both illness and supports health and healing.

Prolonged stress and cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body literally weakens the immune system. A weakened immune system leaves an individual susceptible to illness. Individuals may find themselves sick more often, and for longer periods of time, with common illnesses such as colds, sinus infections, and the flu. They are also at higher risk of more serious and chronic problems like heart disease and stroke.

Conversely, illness which begins without stress as the main contributor can have a powerful impact on mental health as well. Prolonged struggles with common illnesses (i.e., the cold that’s been hanging on for over a month, leaving a person sick and tired of being sick and tired) or diagnoses of more serious conditions trigger a stress response. Depression, anxiety and maybe even panic can result from these scenarios.


Is an individual sick because they haven’t been caring for their mental health, or are they struggling with their mental health because of a physical condition? As you can see, it’s a double-edged sword!

Caring for The Body and Mind

Rather than wasting precious time and energy debating which came first (physical vs. mental), let’s simply accept that the two are connected and strive to care for both.

Did you know that a pessimistic or optimistic attitude can affect ability to cope? People who view events through a pessimistic lens tend to explain them as global and stable. For example, “I’m going through a difficult divorce. ALL women are horrible. My life is ruined FOREVER.”. Conversely, those who view events through an optimistic lens tend to explain the same event as temporary and specific. For example, “I’m going through a divorce. It’s a horrible situation, but not all women are horrible. My whole life is not ruined, rather now I get the opportunity to figure out my new normal.”

Pessimism and optimism are linked to perceived control. Perceiving a degree of control exists leads to taking action. Perceiving no control can result in sitting back and allowing things to happen without being an influencer in the situation.

Pessimism and optimism are traits of personality and personality are very difficult to change. Very difficult doesn’t equal impossible, though. If you identify as being more pessimistic generally, or even just about the divorce, take comfort in knowing that optimism can be learned. To understand more about learned optimism, and how to achieve that end, visit the article Learned Optimism: The Glass Half Full and other resources from Positive Psychology Program.

A healthy lifestyle is equally important in caring for the body and mind connection. What we eat and drink, how much sleep we get each night, and how much physical activity is clocked in a day all make a difference in how well the body and mind function. A diet low in nutritional value, getting very little sleep and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to a whole host of physical (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc.) and mental (depression, anxiety, etc.) issues. Equip your body and mind to handle even the most stressful of circumstances by paying attention to diet, exercise and rest.

Finding Social Support

Finally, social connections also support body and mind wellness. Companionship creates opportunity for honest feedback, emotional support, and in some cases material assistance. It also has potential to encourage health-enhancing behaviors, as discussed above. Social connection extends itself beyond friends and family as well. There is increasing evidence to support pets as a strong source of social support. If you’re curious about some details of this kind of research and wondering what sort of specific benefits pets may provide, this quick read by Rick Nauert, Ph.D. sheds additional light on the subject: Pets Provide Emotional, Social Support to Owners.

Can divorce be making you sick? Absolutely! Might it be the reason you just can’t seem to get over that nagging cold? Yep! Keep in mind this body and mind connection and strive to care for both. And if you just can’t seem to get back on track with wellness on your own, seek help from a professional. It might be just the ticket to clearing and hurdle and achieving health so that you can get back to living a fulfilling life.

(c) Can Stock Photo / Elnur

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5 Important Facts About Parental Kidnapping How to Act Quickly and Tactically

5 Important Facts About Parental Kidnapping How to Act Quickly and Tactically

What is a parent’s worst nightmare? Just about every parent will agree the most terrifying scenario possible is your child is abducted. The horror of  parental kidnapping, your child missing without any idea where they are, if they are safe, or if you will ever see them again is almost unimaginable. The anguish of being separated from your child is intensified by the torture of not knowing.

Most abducted children are taken by a family member

While all parents understand the fear of child abduction, many don’t realize that most kidnappings in the United States are not perpetrated by strangers. Kidnapping by a relative referred to as “family kidnapping,” accounts for forty-nine percent of all abductions. Family kidnapping is usually committed by parents, and overwhelmingly by female family members (forty-three percent). According to the Justice Department, approximately 155,800 children are kidnapped in “serious” parental abductions every year. These cases vary widely. Some parents abscond with their kids across state lines. Others take their children and leave the country. (Parents Magazine, 2017) (Washington Post, 2017)

Parental kidnapping and the Law

The federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act outlaws parental abduction across all states by applying the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution to all child-custody cases. This means that while custody laws vary by state, custody decisions made in one state’s court must be upheld in all other states. This law ensures you are protected by the terms of your custody agreement even if your ex-wife leaves your state.

Parental Abduction is against state law in every U.S. state, in addition to violating federal law. Parental kidnapping is when one parent takes, withholds, or conceals his or her child(ren) in defiance of a court-mandated custody order. This can apply to both visitation and custody rights.

When a parent abducts a child, or children, to circumvent a custody battle or decision, the law is less clear. Some states do not recognize one parent leaving with a child, or children, as a criminal act if no formal custody order is in place and the parents are not living together. However, many states have mandated the abduction of a child across state lines by a parent as a crime, even without a custody order. It is therefore critical to seek professional legal advice, or do your research, to determine how the law in your state applies to parental kidnapping if you and your ex-wife do not have a court-sanctioned custody agreement.

Legal Consequences

If your ex-wife absconds with your child in violation of your custody order hefty fines, jail time, loss of custody, loss of visitation and termination of parental rights are all potential legal judgments. Additional legal penalties for crossing state lines can also be weighed. If she flees the country, then things become less clear. Some countries participate in international treaties, such as The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, and will cooperate with U.S. law enforcement to try and recover your missing children.

Countries with no existing international agreements pose a greater difficulty. If you suspect or know, your ex has left the country with your kid(s), contact an attorney specializing in international custody disputes that can help you leverage political pressure and international resources for the safe return of your family.

Five Important Facts about Parental Kidnapping

If your ex-wife refuses to show up with your child for visitation or shared custody, she is violating your custody order. While a mix of intense emotions will surely overcome you as you realize she is withholding your child and may have left the area, state, or country; the key to a positive outcome is to keep your composure so you can act quickly and strategically.

The sooner you act, the better your chances of getting your kids home as soon as possible. Knowledge is power and armed with these five facts you stand a much better chance at dealing with parental abduction in a way that will lead to the safe recovery of your children.

1. Know your Rights

Law enforcement may try to get you to wait and see if your ex returns with your child before taking action. Some officers are inclined to treat a parental abduction as a family dispute and not a crime. It is not unheard of for the police to put off taking a report or initiating an investigation. They may try to convince you to wait until your ex-wife transports your child to another state.

While patience may be a virtue in many situations, this is not one of those! If you are asked to wait, advise the officer you are aware the 1990 National Child Search and Assistance Act prohibits law enforcement agencies from creating waiting periods before accepting a missing-child report, regardless of custody status, and that The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2006 all require they act immediately.

2. Know which Agencies to Contact

There are a number of resources to help you recover your kids. While your first instinct may be to hunt down your family yourself, your best bet is to enlist the expertise of professional agencies. Get ahold of them immediately. Timing is critical.

  1. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.org/theissues/familyabduction (This is the organization that issues Amber Alerts)
  2. The FBI (your local field office): https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices. The nearest FBI International office: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/legal-attache-offices
  1. IF your child is taken out of the country, you can contact the U.S. State Department International Parental Child Abduction.

3. File a Complaint for Contempt

If your ex-wife is returning your kids late, missing some visitations, or otherwise playing fast and loose with the custody rules, filing a complaint for contempt can be a good move to head her off before she takes more extreme measures and decides to leave with them and not return at all. This complaint asks the Probate and Family Court to order the other parent to obey your custody order. An attorney can help you file this with the court. If the court decides the other parent is disobeying the order, it can put them in jail until they do obey it.

4. Be prepared

If you suspect your ex is capable, and maybe even likely, of taking off with your child, there are steps you can take right now. If delay is your enemy in the safe return of your family, preparation is your greatest ally. Having a few critical things in order can make all the difference in deploying help at a moment’s notice. Don’t wait until you in the midst of the terror and confusion of a kidnapping to get your ducks in a row.

  1. Have recent photos of your kid(s) and your ex-wife easily accessible.
  2. Have a copy (or a few copies) of your custody order.
  3. Have a list of all daycare providers, schools, and after-school programs in case the police want to check with them before declaring your child missing.
  4. Have a detailed list of your ex-wife’s transportation and personally identifying information. This should include a description of her car(s), license plate(s), who she may be traveling with, credit card and banking info, and any other pertinent information that may lead to her whereabouts.
  5. Get a Parental Abduction Search Checklist

MissingKids.CA offers a thorough, easy-to-follow pamphlet that details each step to take in the event your worst nightmare becomes a reality. You will likely find it hard to focus and think on your feet when you are faced with a parent’s most menacing fear. With this packet at the ready, all you will have to do is follow the steps laid out for you.

The wise adage “Forewarned is forearmed” applies to parental kidnapping. When you are aware of a danger, you can adequately prepare to ensure the best outcome. As a parent, your priority is to protect your children and keep them safe. While there is no way to be with your kids every moment, there are some powerful precautions you can take today that may save them from future danger.

(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

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7 Hacks for Reducing Holiday Stress Have a Joyful Life After Divorce

7 Hacks for Reducing Holiday Stress Have a Joyful Life After Divorce

You’ve probably noticed (and unless you are completely detached from anything in life, you most certainly have) that the holiday stress season is upon us. Stores are filling with the holiday essentials and more, commercials are airing advertising holiday shows, movies, and gift-giving ideas, and people are already chattering about pending holiday plans. It’s a wonderful and stressful time of year! Stay ahead of holiday stress with these seven hacks.

Whether you are naturally a lover of all things holiday or have struggled with a case of the Scrooge’s in the past, the first holiday season post-divorce is a changed game. Particularly if there are children involved. Like learning to navigate any other uncharted territory, awareness of what you are likely to be facing and pre-planning can help make all the difference between a joyous time versus a “please just fast forward to 2019 while I pull the covers over my head” attitude.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings with it stress. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. Some stress is healthy and motivating. It’s the push we need to feel energized to engage in activities we want to do and keeps us going through a busy and exciting time. But stress can also be negative and have detrimental effects on our physical and emotional well-being.

Negative stress is linked to sleep difficulties (difficulty falling or staying asleep), extreme fatigue, stomach issues, irritability, forgetfulness, and difficulty problem-solving. Prolonged stress can lead to high blood pressure and even trigger panic attacks. People feeling the effects of negative, prolonged stress are at higher risk for substance (or other addictive) issues and mental health problems.

If you feel yourself wanting to reach for the fast-forward button already, while simultaneously pulling the covers over your head, know that you are not alone and there are ways to ensure holiday stress doesn’t get the best of you.

Combating Holiday Stress: Social Settings

Set Boundaries with Social Gathering Invites:

Determine your priorities and what you can realistically handle in terms of time. There is never a busier time of year than the holiday season for social gatherings. You might even find yourself with more invitations for social gatherings now that you are flying solo. The family will surely be getting together, friends (probably from several different social circles) will be looking to host their own holiday bash, and the after-hours office holiday party will all be competing for your time and attention. If you have children, the invites for plays and concerts hosted by the school and church as well as gatherings with their friends will start flowing in as well.

Determining what you can handle in terms of time on the front end will help in knowing immediately which gatherings you can gladly RSVP “yes” and which you can politely decline. Have in mind an idea of how many days or evenings a week you want to be engaged in social activity, and which days or evenings are the best fit for you and your family. You may determine that Friday and Saturday evenings are best and that requests for Sundays or a certain evening of the work week need thoughtful consideration (based on priorities) before accepting the invitation.

Equally important is knowing your priorities. For example, if you have children you are likely to determine that, first and foremost, attending their holiday concert at school is priority one. If you’re not all the crazy about the crew you interact with daily at work, you might decide to forego the office holiday gathering (or determine a plan to “make an appearance” for a shortened period).

Whatever you decide, give yourself permission to politely decline invites for social engagements that simply don’t fit with your priorities and time. It is better to fully commit to fewer gatherings, where you can be present and enjoy yourself than it is to over-extend and feel miserable and tired at every gathering you received, and accepted an invitation.

Mentally Prepare for Social Gatherings:

If you are newly separated or divorced, those with whom you haven’t yet had contact (but who are aware of your circumstance) are going to be looking to you for cues on interaction. Some will follow these cues flawlessly while others will be more awkward, but you can certainly be <mostly> in control of the interaction. Decide ahead of time how you might respond to questions (direct or subtle). If you are willing to share information, go into the social gathering knowing what and how much you have a willingness to share. Also, have top of mind “subject changers” so when you’ve said all you are willing to say on the topic you can steer the conversation in another direction. You also are well within your right to comment very briefly and clearly communicate your preference not to continue discussion on the matter (“yes, it’s been difficult, and I prefer not to talk about it. Thank you for your concern and for keeping me in your thoughts” ….insert subject changer).

Social Gatherings and Gift Exchanges:

The holidays don’t have to be about buying extravagant gifts for everyone you know.  Determine and to stick to your budget with gift buying. This goes for gift buying for your children as well. Consider DIY projects that are cost-effective, and purchasing experiences that you might be footing the bill for in the future anyway. For example, if you have children consider passes to a movie, children’s museum, water park, or other activity they might enjoy getting more bang for your buck. There is the thrill of opening a gift with a stuffed giraffe and passes to the zoo in the gift opening moment, followed by opportunity for an outing that you were probably going to pay for down the road anyway.

Check out this resource for inexpensive gift ideas for adults in your life, and these inexpensive gift ideas for kids.

If there are gift exchanges at other social gatherings that are optional (i.e., the office holiday party, or a white elephant exchange at a friends’ holiday bash), consider opting out if it just doesn’t fit your budget.

Combating Holiday Stress: Personal Wellness

Take Time for You:

Make time to participate in activities that you find to be relaxing and rejuvenating and resist the temptation to feel guilty about needing a holiday obligation break. These essential breaks will aid in your ability to better enjoy the holiday activities you have committed to and channel the holiday stress into being positive.

Get Exercise:

Even when you are feeling worn out and unmotivated, pencil in some physical activity. Doing so will lower adrenaline and cortisol (i.e., stress hormones) within the body and this is the absolute best way to fight negative effects of stress. You don’t need to log half an hour on the treadmill or train for a triathlon. Scheduling a tennis match with a friend, shooting hoops, or a brisk walk in the cooler weather can be just what your body needs to clear out excess stress hormone and leave you feeling more relaxed.

Practice Relaxation Skills:
Relaxation activities force us to slow down and help our bodies to regroup. Consider deep breathing exercises, turn on relaxing music, practice meditation, or go for a quiet drive after the sun goes down. Maybe even consider scheduling a massage. Not sure where to start? This short relaxation video will walk you through five minutes of relaxation.

Get Adequate Rest:
During times of high stress (whether positive or negative) it’s quite likely that our bodies will require more rest than is our norm. Our bodies will also let us know when this is the case, so we must be careful to listen. When you are feeling physically or mentally worn out, don’t strive to complete just a couple more tasks. Instead, call it a day and tuck in; your body will thank you for doing so.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be characterized by holiday stress, even when you have experienced significant life changes. Everyone gets an opportunity to decide, and be in control of, how they are going to approach this busy time of year. Know your priorities, set boundaries (don’t feel guilty about doing so), and don’t forget to care for yourself.

(c) Can Stock Photo / vitalytitov

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