How To Protect Your Mental Health During Divorce
Divorce is hard. Dealing with the paperwork, your family, and trying to cope with your own feelings is challenging to say the least. It’s easily one of the most emotional and stressful experiences in life whether you wanted it to happen or not. One minute you might feel glad that your ex is leaving and the next you feel devastated; this is the emotional roller coaster that divorce brings. If you’re going through a divorce, then it’s imperative that you protect your mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are some strategies that’ll help you cope with the challenges that may come your way.
Focus on The Why and Not the What
We all know that it is difficult to manage your emotions when you’re going through a difficult time, but it’s important that you do. When going through a divorce, people often relive the bad experience over and over again, which is the worst thing you could do. Instead, one should try to distance themselves from the situation and see it as something that happened to someone else. By distancing yourself, you’ll be able to look at the situation for what it is. You can focus on why you feel and react the way that you do, instead of on “what” you’re feeling. Honing in on what you’re feeling will only invite in more negative feelings.
It’s Okay to Have Different Feelings
While going through a divorce, you’ll experience feelings that you may have never expected. There will also be things and people around you that trigger certain feelings as it pertains to your ex and the divorce. Those triggers could make you feel sad, anxious, frustrated, and even angry. Don’t beat yourself up for having these different feelings. As time goes on, they’ll lessen, and you’ll slowly begin to feel like your normal self again. However, do not rush the process. Suppressing your feelings will cause them to manifest in different ways and bring on poor behaviors.
Avoid Isolating Yourself
Going through a divorce can make you want to lay in bed and avoid the world, but social isolation can do more harm than good. Humans need socialization, and this is especially true when we’re going through a hard time. In fact, having a lack of emotional support can increase anxiety and hinder our ability to cope. Stress hormones, like cortisol, can be damaging to the body when released in excess. Being constantly on edge weakens the immune system, makes it difficult to sleep and can cause weight gain/weight loss. Loneliness actually increases the release of stress hormones and can lead to physical pain. Therefore, the best thing you can do when going through a divorce is surround yourself with love and support. Consider the following:
- Join a support group where you can talk to those who are going through a similar situation as you.
- Reach out to trusted family members and friends who motivate and energize you.
- Find a counselor or therapist that can help you work through what you’re feeling.
Make Time for You
When we’re trying to play the superman or superwoman role, we often forget about one very important person: ourselves. Some of us are raising children, taking care of our parents, and if you’re in a sandwich generation – you’re doing both. If you add working and/or going to school to the mix, then it’ll feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your head. Am I right? When you’re going through a divorce, it’s so important to make time for you. This is the best time to give yourself permission to take a break and regroup. This isn’t to say that you should stop handling your responsibilities, but you should add yourself to the calendar. Consider doing some of the following:
- Listen to music
- Take a nature walk
- Hangout with a friend
- Explore new activities or interests
- Say “no” without guilt if it’s something that doesn’t resonate with you
- Create a routine
By doing some of the following, you’ll be able to keep yourself mentally and emotionally balanced.
Look to The Future
Last, but certainly not least, is to look to the future. How you feel right now is not how you’ll always feel. Where you are right now is not where you’ll always be. When we’re going through a hard time, it’s easy to concentrate on how we’re going to get through what’s going on right now. However, there can also be peace in thinking about what’s next.
You can’t protect your mental well-being by dwelling on what’s going on now and accepting that this is how it’s always going to be. Try looking at your future from an abstract point of view and dig a little deeper. You can get through this and there’s always help available if you need it.