Caring for Yourself During Separation and Divorce
Separation and divorce can be stressful and unsettling events which impact our emotional and physical well being. During this time we may experience upset in our daily routines, uncertainty about our future, and frustration as we navigate through a formidable legal system. We can feel overwhelmed as we try to cope with the decision to separate, live apart from our spouse and ultimately follow through with the actual divorce proceedings. Some of the feelings we may experience include grief and loss, fear, anxiety, anger, despair, loneliness, depression, guilt, frustration and an overall sense of being out of balance.
Listed below are some helpful strategies we can use to take care of ourselves as we move through the separation and divorce process:
- Understand that emotions are not good or bad. They just are. Don’t try to erase memories of your marriage. These are important chapters in your life and add to the complexity of who you are.
- Don’t hang on to blame and bitterness. As difficult as this may be in some separations, understand that this will only keep you stuck and may prevent you from addressing your own needs. Remaining angry for an extended period of time may also move you into depression.
- Find supportive family and friends that you can talk with in confidence. Join a divorce support group.
- Get plenty of sleep, even if this means that you take a catnap at your desk at lunch or a quick nap before picking up the children some days.
- Eat mindfully. Select food that will help sustain you throughout this time of stress. Try to stick with whole grains, green, yellow and orange vegetables, fruits and lean protein.
- Find and keepup a regular exercise program, such as walking, cycling, swimming or any other aerobic exercise. Add some variety and book the event on your calendar. Include music - a wonderful addition! Make it important!
- Avoid developing new bad habits for coping with stress, such as alcohol, smoking, unhealthy eating or anything that may evolve into an unhealthy addiction.
- Find your own unique way of relaxing your mind and body. Try breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, tensing and relaxing your muscles, or taking a yoga or meditation class.
- Change the scenery. Try moving the furniture around, paint the walls a different color, change the lighting or anything that will help introduce the idea of moving on.
- Avoid diving into a new intimate relationship just because you’re feeling lonely.
Explore new interests. Divorce is a beginning as well as an ending…a perfect
opportunity to revisit old areas of interest and to try new things! Find one or more causes, clubs, fields, hobbies or activities. The focus of your attention will be on the future, rather than the past. You may also find some new friends, expanding your sphere of connectedness. By engaging in rewarding, positive activities, you will be able to think of yourself as an explorer and decision-maker, rather than a victim of circumstances.
Allow yourself plenty of time to adjust to this major life change. It's OK to take your time. This is a significant transition point in your life and it is vital that you take ample time to nurture yourself while you heal.
Although current statistical reports on divorce reveal that it the numbers are not as high as we thought, divorce continues to be an unexpected and painful outcome of marriages.