Divorce can trigger many emotions, and it's not uncommon for them to build up and leave you feeling emotionally drained. But if you don't properly deal with the divorce stress and negative emotions, the consequences can begin to slowly affect you in deeper ways. You could develop trust issues that make it harder for you to move on in a new relationship, or your self-confidence could take a nose-dive. To make sure you stay emotionally strong and healthy, it's important to learn how to deal with divorce stress in a productive way.
Read on for nine tips to help you cope with a stressful divorce.
Stay Physically Fit
Stay as active as possible by keeping a regular exercise routine. Physical activity can help stabilize your emotions since it aids in relieving tension, anger, and anxiety. According to Harvard Health, exercise can calm you down since it reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise has even been successfully used to treat clinical depression and anxiety disorders, so get moving!
Pay Attention To Your Emotional Needs
Find a support group to participate in and/or a therapist to talk with. A little therapy can go a long way when you're feeling overwhelmed emotionally. "Take some time to reflect and process your emotions, ideally before a legal process is started," says Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D. "Get the support you need to do this: therapy, divorce support groups, journaling, meditation, creative expression, and simply talking with your trusted friends or family."
It's important for you to take responsibility for your own emotional well-being and make sure that you nurture yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Do Things That Nurture You Emotionally and Physically
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 promote feelings of self-worth and esteem. Now more than ever is a time to practice self-care.
Give Yourself Permission To Feel
Feeling a range of emotions is normal, and what we do with the emotions we are feeling plays a big role in the quality of life we experience. Avoid destructive activities such as drinking or self-medicating when trying to deal with your feelings. Instead, let yourself feel. Once you let yourself go through the grieving process, it'll be easier to move on. "It’s normal and healthy to relive both good and bad moments in time when you were married. It’s an unavoidable part of the grief process," says licensed therapist Susan Pease Gadoua.
In general, it takes about one to two years to fully recover from divorce, according to an article from Psychology Today.
Change Any Expectations You Have
When you're going through a divorce, you might feel as though you've lost control over everything, but remember that no one has any control over the feelings and actions of another person. Don't try to control any aspect of what your spouse might feel or what actions they will take. Let go of what you feel the outcome should be and learn to accept whatever might happen.
Let Go of Problems That Are Beyond Your Control
If you are faced with an uncomfortable or painful situation, learn to let it go; take some time to figure out what is best for you, and then come back to it. Stay focused on what you have control over and let go of the rest.
Refuse to engage in conflict with your ex. If the two of you can't be around each other without arguing, it's better just to walk away.
Don't Make Any Hasty Decisions
When you're going through a highly stressful situation, you shouldn't make any decisions or changes to your life until you've thought of all the consequences. "No one is capable of making excellent decisions during a life crisis, so take it one day at a time until you feel ready to think clearly and make rational decisions not driven by emotions," Gold Buscho says.
Take time to think things through and thoroughly weigh all your options. When making decisions, use logical thinking instead of emotional thinking to guide your decision making. Give yourself time and be patient with the decision-making process.
Make Time for Fun
Remember to laugh. Plan activities that bring you pleasure and participate in them regularly. Maintain a close circle of friends and socialize often—make sure not to isolate yourself from others. Get out and enjoy life even if it means forcing yourself to. You'll find that once you're out engaging in fun activities, you'll feel less stressed.
Let Go and Move On
Take the time needed to heal from the divorce and those feelings of loss. Try to look inward and own your responsibility in the problems that led to the divorce. Forgive yourself and your spouse and don't allow the issues from this marriage to follow you into new relationships.
Taking time to identify what caused the divorce and to change what you need to change about the way you related to your ex will only help you move on after the divorce quicker.