How Parents Can Support Their Mental Health During Divorce
Going through divorce can be emotionally tough, especially when raising kids. Here's how parents can watch their mental health during divorce
As anyone going through a divorce knows, the process can really take a toll on your mental health. As you navigate this confusing, frustrating and overwhelming stage of life, it’s natural to become depressed, fearful, and dissatisfied with life. While these are common emotions within a divorce, it’s important not to dwell succumb to them. If you let these feelings overtake you, your current relationships with your children and family will suffer greatly. Moreover, you’ll likely be ambivalent towards future relationships.
Subsequently, it will take longer for you to heal and move on. By supporting your mental health now, you can survive divorce and come out a stronger person in the end. You simply have to make your mental state a priority. Below, you’ll find a few steps to doing just that.
1. Talk to the Kids
Once you and your partner decide to get divorced, it’s time to tell your children. Make sure your kids know the separation is not their fault and be comforting but direct when explaining the situation. It’s likely they’ll be shocked, confused, sad or angry, so be a listening ear to help them process. Being transparent with your kids from the beginning will remove the extra stress of trying to keep the divorce under wraps.
2. Maintain Routines
Once your partner has moved out — or you have — continue to communicate your routines to one another. Create a schedule that works for the whole family and stick to it so everyone knows what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Keep a calendar or to-do list and stay organized and consistent, only compromising the schedule when it’s absolutely necessary. Routines will help maintain some semblance of normalcy for both you and the kids which will also help support your mental health.
3. Avoid Power Struggles
Even if you manage to maintain a perfect routine, you’ll likely run into parenting power struggles from time to time. These occur when children develop greater loyalty to one parent than another. This most-loved parent has more power over the kids and may even try to turn the kids against their ex-spouse in some cases. Of course, this can have a negative impact on your mental health. Avoid these struggles by agreeing on punishments and rewards for your kids before separating.
4. Confide in Someone
Of course, even if you do all of the above and try your best to stay strong during the divorce, it isn’t healthy to go it alone. Find someone you can confide in and frequently talk to them about your emotions, mental health and stressors throughout the entire process. This person may be a trusted friend, a therapist, a parent or even a pastor or counselor. Consider joining a support group to be with others who are in similar situations.
5. Stay Positive
This bit of advice is certainly easier said than done. However, maintaining a positive attitude is essential to supporting your mental health. Find ways to boost your spirits and keep a spark of humor through it all. Make it your personal goal to find one good thing in your life each day. Focusing on the positives and remembering to laugh from time to time will do wonders for your emotions and mental state.
6. Give Yourself Grace
When you’re in the middle of a divorce, it’s easy to view the marriage as a failure. Maybe you blame yourself for the separation and constantly imagine scenarios where things could have worked out. As soon as you notice these thought patterns, speak grace to yourself. You’re doing the very best you can and anything that happened already is in the past. Choose to let it go and view divorce as a fresh start instead of a failure.
7. Focus On Yourself
Now is the perfect time to focus on yourself. Take time to exercise, eat nutritious meals and relax. Developing a healthy self-care routine will support your mental and physical stability and help you avoid turning to substances to numb the pain. Breathwork exercises and meditation can also prove beneficial as you navigate this tumultuous time. Regardless of the self-care habits you choose, be sure to try new things and find something that works well for you and your specific situation.
Take Your Time
Getting a divorce can take months to years. It’s likely the time you need to heal will be just as long, if not longer. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself that time to repair your heart and grow as an individual. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to jump back into the dating scene straight away. These efforts can prove detrimental to your mental health if you aren’t ready for love again.
Instead of rushing the process, rediscover who you are first. Spend time doing all the things you missed out on in your marriage and focus on you. Form new habits, go new places and have your own experiences. Along the way, it is possible you’ll find someone with whom you can experience these things and begin a new chapter of life. Until then, enjoy being single again, stay positive and be patient. You’ll know when you’re ready to move on.