Five Ways to Deal with Divorce Stress
The stress of divorce can feel overwhelming. If you don’t find ways to address your stress and cope with the wave of emotions that accompany this life-changing event, they will begin to affect you in deeper, potentially negative ways. Use the following five steps to jumpstart a recovery process that will allow you to not only survive your divorce but also emerge stronger from it.
1) Make your emotional needs a priority.
During the divorce process, you can expect to feel a tidal wave of emotions. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate those feelings in order to determine what it is that you need. A good place to start is a support group or therapist. You may find that talking with others who are going through similar experiences is extremely freeing. They “get” you and can empathize with what you’re feeling. Similarly, a therapist is there to listen—not judge you or tell you what to do. Group or individual therapy is chiefly a way for you to express your feelings and find some emotional relief.
2) Stay physically fit.
Exercise is a great way to relieve emotional turmoil. It’s a healthy way to “escape” for a while and it produces positive endorphins to combat negative feelings. Extreme anxiety, emotional stress, and depression can cause individuals to turn to binge eating, inactivity, drugs, or alcohol to “escape” or diminish feelings. But these are only temporary “fixes” and further contribute to physical and mental imbalance. Feeling good about your physical health and appearance is important. It can add balance during a time when your life feels totally distorted.
3) Focus on creating a healthy lifestyle.
The path to healing means embracing activities and habits that benefit the mind and body. Read a good book, get plenty of rest, take a hot bath, develop a new hobby, eat healthy and nutritious foods, and surround yourself with positive people. Put effort into living a lifestyle that will foster joy and inner peace while promoting feelings of self-worth and esteem during this time of adversity—doing so will serve you well in developing long-term happiness and health.
4) Get in touch with your emotions.
As corny as it may sound, it is vital to get in touch with your emotions and not shy away from truly allowing yourself to feel. Negative or positive, emotions are normal. How we act on those emotions, however, plays a big role in our quality of life. Bottling emotions up can be just as harmful as lashing out in anger. Address feelings in a safe environment like individual or group therapy sessions, where you can express your full range of emotions without feeling alone. Trying to address your emotions without the proper support in place can leave you feeling overwhelmed or compound feelings of depression/anxiety. Once you have a support system in place, unpack your emotions and address them—you may find they aren’t the “monster under the bed” that you imagined them to be. And remember, if you don’t allow yourself to feel some of the negative emotions that accompany divorce, you don’t allow yourself to feel the good ones that accompany the healing process.
5) Cast aside expectations.
Often, it’s better to go into a situation with no expectations—sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised, other times you will be disappointed. Regardless, when you let go of what you feel the outcome should be and focus on accepting what the outcome is, you’re better able to cope and most importantly, move on. If you like to feel in control, you aren’t alone. Most humans do. The truth? More often than not, none of us are. That’s an uncomfortable feeling, but the sooner you get “comfortable with feeling uncomfortable,” the happier you will be. And if you’re thinking, “Easier said than done,” you’re right. But you have to start somewhere.