The holiday season is in full swing – with Christmas carols filling every shopping center and your children dreaming of Santa magic. However, if this is your first holiday season after a divorce, you may find yourself having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit.

Most likely, your finances took a hit this year with the divorce and you may not be able to buy all the gifts on your children’s holiday wish lists. You also may be dreading that your ex will have the children on Christmas day, and you’ll be alone on Christmas morning.

It may feel like all the joy and happiness has drained out of you right now, but you can bring some of that back before the holidays are over. Here are five tips to bettering your first holiday season after divorce:

  1. Don’t feel tempted to try to compete to give your kids more expensive, lavish gifts than your ex does. Stay within your budget and find gifts that speak to your children’s interests or talents, rather than the latest video game system or tech gadget.
  2. Have a plan for your alone time. Instead of getting depressed about having less time with your children to make holiday memories, have a plan for the time you will have on your own. Find a holiday activity you always wanted to try and do it. Schedule an evening out with a friend or spend more time with your family on the days when you won’t have your children.
  3. Create new family traditions. Perhaps, you can let your kids each choose a kind of holiday cookie to make and have a family baking day. Or invite friends over for a holiday game night, movie fest or special dinner. Or even try introducing a new tradition from your own heritage or learning about a new one from a different country each year, to teach your children about the world beyond your doorstep.
  4. Find stress relief in exercising and eating right. Do your best to find time to hit the gym or go on a long walk on a warmer day. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies every time you go to a holiday gathering to avoid later having an energy crash after a sugar rush. If your body feels better, your emotions likely will too.
  5. Volunteer for a good cause. The holiday season truly is about giving back, so if you can spend time serving meals at a homeless shelter, do a shift or two as a holiday bell ringer, or fill in as an usher at church or community theater, you will be reminded of your blessings this season.

Letting go of anger and resentment over your divorce isn’t always easy, especially during the holiday season. But by taking these proactive steps, you’ll be in a better mindset and be able to enjoy the holiday time you do have with your children.