Dave Smith is a personal trainer and weight loss coach widely recognized as one of the best in the fitness industry. In 2013, he was chosen as Canada’s Top Fitness Professional.”
Smith is also divorced. And the divorce process wreaked havoc on his health, just like it does for a lot of guys, despite his stature in the fitness community.
Smith recently shared the story of how divorce destroyed his health, and how he managed to get his life back on track, in a Huffington Post column. It’s an article all guys going through divorce should read because it shows how devastating a breakup can be for even the physically and mentally strongest of people while also providing a template for taking care of yourself through the process.
The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory ranks divorce as the second most stressful life event, behind only the death of a spouse. For men, the health risks are even more acute. Research shows that divorce can increase the rate of early mortality by up to 250 percent. The suicide rate for divorced men is also substantially higher than for women.
To cope with the stress and pressure, it is common for a lot of guys to develop bad habits that delay the recovery process, such as drinking or overeating. The problems can quickly snowball and bleed into your professional life as research shows work productivity decreases during divorce.
You’re not going to get back on your feet after divorce overnight. Frankly, divorce is a lot like a death and you need time to grieve. Things will improve, and can even end up better than they were before, but it might take a long time.
One of the most effective things you can do to speed the healing process is to make sure you take care of your physical and mental health to the best of your abilities.
As previously mentioned, it is common for guys to overeat to try to cope with divorce, and in extreme cases that can even develop into eating disorders.
For a lot of men, divorce can lead to unwanted weight gain. Others, like Smith, end up losing their appetite and actually lose weight and suffer from a lack of nutrition.
The key, in either case, is making sure you are eating nutritionally well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and veggies. Smith created a list of 5-ingredient meals that were easy to cook so meal prep didn’t seem so daunting.
If you’re a dad who is fairly new to the kitchen, here are some simple meal-planning tips you might find useful.
Even when times are good it can be a struggle to find the motivation to get to the gym. But exercise is one of the best things you can do to lift your mood because it causes your body to produce feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
If exercise is something you enjoy then this can also be a great way to improve your social life as a lot of people form friendships through their various workout groups.
But you don’t have to suddenly transform into Mr. Fitness to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, many studies have shown that even low doses of physical activity can have a positive effect on your health.
So even if it just means taking a 15-minute walk every day, make sure you’re getting up and moving.
There is a growing body of research showing the positive impact that practicing mindful meditation can have on a person’s overall well-being. This tool can be especially effective as you transition through divorce.
The concept of meditation can seem a little “out there” if you’ve never practiced before, but it’s actually very easy to get started. It takes just a few minutes each day of quiet alone time where you can sit and practice different breathing exercises.
Get your rest
Understandably, it can be tough for divorcing men to get a good night’s rest with so much on their mind. Studies have shown a link between the sleep disturbances that occur during divorce to higher blood pressure, which leads to a host of other potential health risks.
To ensure you’re getting enough rest. Try to go to bed at the same time every evening, limit how much you eat and drink before heading to bed, and limit your exposure to digital screens before trying to sleep.
If your sleep problems persist, you really should seek the help of a sleep specialist to avoid more serious long-term problems.
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