A divorce can throw your entire life into a state of flux.
Suddenly, your living arrangement changes. Your financial future is uncertain. Your relationship with your kids might even be in jeopardy.
This can cause an intense amount of stress for even the most grounded people. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory ranks divorce second, behind only the death of a spouse.
Divorce is particularly taxing on men, who face a number of increased health risks when their marriage ends.
While it is impossible to avoid all the emotional ups and downs of divorce, there are some strategies you can utilize to reduce your stress level during this time and ease the transition to the next chapter of your life.
Utilize mindful meditation
One of the worst parts of divorce is all the uncertainty it creates. With so much up in the air, it is easy to let your mind race through all the different scenarios that could play out.
How will I afford child support? Will I get to see my kids? What’s going to happen to the house? Was it my fault our marriage failed?
If these thoughts are causing a lot of anxiety for you, try out some different mindful meditation practices. Research shows that even a few minutes of meditation each day can reduce stress and cultivate a sense of groundedness.
“The concept of mindfulness in a traditional sense is really about being present with your experiences in general, but mostly your emotions,” said psychologist Andra Brosh. “So it’s really about letting yourself feel what you’re feeling and letting it move through you and then not holding a lot of judgment over that and being very present.
Exercise and eat right
It’s natural when you’re heartbroken to want to come home, curl up on the couch, and numb your pain with pizza, Netflix, and booze. Unfortunately, shutting down like that is completely counterproductive and only makes matters worse.
What we eat and how much we exercise has an enormous effect on how we feel both physically and emotionally. Exercise and a balanced diet increase the amount of healthy chemicals in your brain and help fight against depression. Not to mention, working yourself into shape can provide a big self-esteem boost, which would likely do you some good at this stage of your life.
You don’t have to become a marathon runner to receive some benefits either. Some studies suggest that bursts of short exercise are actually better than longer workouts.
There are plenty of fun ways to work some physical activity into your daily routine, depending on your interests. You could start riding your bike, join a pick-up basketball league, or go the traditional route and purchase a gym membership.
Get active and plan out some balanced meals with plenty of fruits and veggies. You’re guaranteed to feel the effects.
Sometimes it does a lot of good to unwind your thoughts and emotions by writing them all out with pen and paper.
Research has shown this practice can have numerous positive effects:
- Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma.
- Journaling can help you throw away negative thoughts.
- Expressive writing strengthens immune systems and minds.
Buy a notebook and set aside some time at the end of each day to write about what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. You’ll be surprised by how much perspective you can gain by doing this.
Seek professional help
It’s difficult to overestimate the role that counselors and therapists can play in helping you during divorce.
There is still a stigma that therapy is only for those suffering from a debilitating mental illness. Some resist counseling because they like to think they’re strong enough to solve their problems on their own. Those misbeliefs are unfortunate and inaccurate.
More than 59 million Americans seek the services of a mental health care professional each year, and millions more would likely benefit from doing the same.
A therapist is able to provide you with objective feedback in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Verbalizing your feelings can have a significant therapeutic effect on the brain, and therapy can help you develop better long-term mental health.
While the benefits of counseling are numerous, you can also seek help from the many divorce support groups and online forums that exist online. If you’re religious, you could also likely find a pastor or other church member to confide in.