If you’ve gone through a divorce or you’re currently going through one, you know that it’s one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. Divorce can leave you feeling lost, confused, overwhelmed, and stressed. To help you cope with these feelings and restore some sense of normalcy, we’ve compiled a list of eight healthy strategies that can help you alleviate and redirect stress during this difficult time.
1. Seek Support
The most important thing to remember when dealing with divorce is not to do it alone. Call your family and friends when you feel overwhelmed, and considering talking to a counselor or therapist to help you process your emotions.
Many divorcees find they appreciate the support of group therapy. In a group therapy setting, you can share your experiences with others who’ve been through similar situations, and this can help you feel less alone. Therapy of any sort provides a judgment-free space where you can process the difficult feelings that often accompany divorce.
2. Give Yourself Permission to Grieve
Grieving is often associated with death, but it’s really a consequence of loss. Because divorce involves loss, you may find yourself grieving your partner and the life you had together. Feelings of denial, anger, and sadness are common responses to this loss.
You may also find that you resent your partner, that you feel cautious and fearful about forming new relationships, or that you have a hard time feeling much of anything at all. All of these reactions are normal. Be prepared to confront a wide range of unexpected emotions, and give yourself time and space to grieve what you’ve lost.
3. Find Healthy Distractions
During and after divorce, it’s easy to let our emotions and thoughts run wild. You might start obsessing about past choices or worrying about the future.
To combat repetitive or anxious thoughts, find engaging distractions that allow you to focus your attention elsewhere. Watch a funny movie, spend time with friends, or play with your children or pets. Creative outlets such as journaling, woodworking, or painting are especially healthy distractions since they can be fun and cathartic, helping you process your feelings by expressing yourself.
4. Be Physically Active
Perhaps the healthiest way to refocus your energy during a divorce is through physical activity, which is an excellent source of stress relief. Kick-boxing, swimming, and other aerobic activities will not only help you release pent-up frustration, but will release mood-improving endorphins that can lift the cloud of negative feelings that often accompanies a divorce.
If you find yourself feeling cooped up inside — either physically or within your mind — consider outdoor activities like walking or hiking. A little fresh air can clear your head and rejuvenate your spirit. Likewise, if you find yourself feeling isolated, try finding a local league and playing a team sport like soccer or volleyball where you can interact with others.
Whatever you decide, though, remember to set realistic goals and be patient with yourself. Overexerting yourself or trying to reach an unattainable ideal of total happiness and calm can leave you feeling insecure and discouraged instead of self-confident and hopeful.
5. Practice Self-Care
In addition to physical activity, practice other forms of self-care. This begins with getting a full night’s sleep and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid binging on comfort foods that often feel good in the moment, but can leave you feeling remorseful and lethargic later. Be cautious around drugs and alcohol as well, as these substances often perpetuate negative emotions and behavior patterns, and they frequently lead to bad decisions and regret.
Instead, try other forms of healthy relaxation: get a massage, go for a walk, or take a hot bath. Allow yourself to take time for you.
6. Prioritize and Simplify
Recognize that during this tough time, you may not function at full capacity. Give yourself a break. Ask yourself what is most important to you in your daily life and sideline the things that can wait.
If contributing at work and spending time quality time with your kids is all you can manage, that’s enough. Call on friend or use a professional service to help you clean your house and tend to your lawn, adopt simple but healthy dinner options, and don’t overcommit yourself. Learning to say “no” to things you don’t really want to do can be healthy and empowering.
7. Explore Your Interests
Divorce brings unexpected change, and some of it can be positive. This can be a time to take stock of your interests and dust off an old hobby or try out a new one. Join a book club, enroll in a cooking class, or volunteer at the local humane society. Immersing yourself in an activity you enjoy or a cause you are passionate about focuses your attention away from the past and on the present. Following your interests can also be a great way to meet like-minded people and to cultivate new relationships.
8. Avoid Making Rash Decisions
Divorce can be a very confusing time, and emotions often prevail over logic. It is also a time when you have may have to make major choices, some of which could shape the course of your life for many years to come.
Be aware of your emotional state and try not to make rash decisions. Give yourself the time and space you need to weigh your options and make rational, informed decisions. Seek help from a trusted colleague, friend, or professional. Real estate agents, tax experts, and an experienced divorce attorney can all be invaluable resources during this important period in your life.
Contact Myers Law Firm, Trusted Family Law Attorneys for Residents of Mecklenburg County
If you are going through a divorce or separation, the professionals at Myers Law Firm are here to help. Whether you’re determining child custody or dividing personal property, our team of legal professionals is prepared to answer any questions you may have.
While we pride ourselves in handling divorce issues peaceably and with compassion, we are dedicated to protecting and advocating for your rights. To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us online using our online contact form.
Coping with separation and divorce. (2017). Mental Health America. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/separation-and-divorce
Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. (2015, April 16). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469