Whether your divorce came as a surprise or you have been contemplating this step for a long time, the prospect of ending a marriage can be profoundly stressful. If marriage is an expression of a couple’s hope in a shared future, then part of getting a divorce entails acknowledging that those hopes and dreams have fractured beyond repair. For many people, that process can be truly devastating.
Although the decision to divorce can be a difficult one and the process of divorcing can be traumatic, there are steps you can take to help manage your stress during this difficult time, including:
Acknowledge Your Feelings
If you are going through a divorce, you may be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, from sadness to anger to grief. You may still be reeling from the reasons that led to your divorce in the first place or you may be worried about the impact of your divorce on your children.
For some people, divorce means that the life you imagined for yourself and your family has come to an abrupt end, and this can in turn bring up acute feelings of fear about a suddenly murky future. Others feel anxious about how their social circle will respond to their divorce. Some may experience stress due to friends or family members who react negatively to the breakup of their marriage.
It is important to acknowledge your feelings as they arise and let yourself grieve. Allow yourself time and permission to cry or talk through the situation with a trusted friend or therapist. Know that you're allowed to feel angry. It’s normal for your emotions to ebb and flow throughout the divorce process, so be kind to yourself and give yourself time and space to heal.
Take Care of Yourself Physically
In fact, the emotional hurt that you feel during a divorce can have actual implications for your physical health. Recent research indicates that divorce stress can have adverse impacts on mental and physical health, which can result in:
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Substance abuse
- Loss of appetite or over-eating
- Digestive problems, including IBS, nausea, etc.
- Muscle pain and headaches
- Metabolic syndrome
- Weakened immune system
Researchers and therapists are increasingly beginning to understand that divorce stress can have a real impact on an individual's immune system with some suggesting that the impact from stress from divorce can be akin to the impact of the stress from losing a spouse to death.
Divorce can be an all-consuming experience, leaving you drained and depleted. So it’s important to make sure that you are taking care of your physical health. For some people, this can feel like yet another burden during an already burdensome time, but prioritizing your physical health is one of the most vital things you can do to help yourself pull through this experience.
Here are some ways you can take care of your physical and mental health that will help you reduce and manage your stress levels:
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and anxiety
- Eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins
- Get plenty of sleep and rest so your body can recover from the physical effects of stress
- Take time to relax each day with deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, peaceful walks, or baths
- Exercise moderation with alcohol and other drugs as they can worsen symptoms of depression associated with divorce stress
Remember that you don't need to do everything at once. Start small with something that feels doable and build on that act of self-care day by day.
Create a Support Network
As you go through the process of a divorce, it is important to remember that you do not have to do it alone. Often, people find they want to withdraw from their community when they are experiencing profound stress, but one of the best things you can do for yourself is to maintain and create connections with other people during this time. Find solace and strength in your family and friends. Reach out to networks of peers who are going through similar experiences.
A strong support system will help provide emotional comfort during this difficult time, but it can also provide practical support whether that is childcare, meals, or help around the house. It can be hard to suddenly navigate these aspects of your life alone, and a supportive community can help carry the load while you figure out your next steps.
Part of your support network can also include professional help to guide you through various aspects of your new life. A therapist can provide emotional support and an impartial perspective that can help you to process your grief in a healthy and ultimately productive way.
For some people, the financial stress of a divorce can be extremely difficult, especially if you are unaccustomed to handling your finances independently or were not the primary breadwinner. Consider talking to a financial advisor who can help you navigate this new financial landscape.
Finally, it's important to have someone on your side who understands the legal system and can guide you through the entire divorce process from beginning to end. From filing motions to negotiating settlements, a dedicated divorce lawyer can help make sure that all of the necessary details are taken care of so that you don't have to worry about them. Especially if your divorce is contentious, an experienced divorce attorney can handle any disputes or disagreements that may arise during negotiations, sparing you the added stress of contending with your ex.
At Palmer Rodak & Associates, we are dedicated to being part of your support network during your divorce so that you can eventually move toward a better future for you and your family. If you are considering a divorce, reach out to us online or call us at (760) 573-2223 to schedule a consultation.