Any form of break-up is tough, whether it’s from a romantic partner or family and friends. But when it comes to divorce, legal aspects intensify the emotional impact. The division of assets, parental responsibilities and child visitation rights all take an emotional toll.
Divorce is a huge life change, and it can have a significant impact on your mental health. Several studies show a link between divorce and anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse. So it’s essential to take care of yourself during this time and ensure you get the support you need.
Whether you’re just starting divorce proceedings or you’ve recently completed them, it’s common to have feelings of anxiety and stress. We’ve put together these four tips to help you look after your mental health during and following a divorce.
Don’t Shut Yourself off Emotionally
We often find ourselves not addressing or allowing ourselves to feel emotions during or following a divorce. Rather than feeling how we feel, we suppress the emotion and bottle it up. This usually results in outbursts of emotions when we throw our “feeling” at others by lashing out. As children, we pick up this habit as a coping mechanism in challenging relationships.
Addressing your emotions is easier said than done, but it can be a huge help when going through or coping with a divorce. One way to address emotions is to make a note of them. This doesn’t need to be a lengthy description of your feelings — a simple “I feel angry” or “I feel lonely” will do. Simply acknowledging the emotion can help you to deal with it.
By doing this, you can start to recognise patterns in your emotions, identify any triggers for specific emotions, and avoid them in the future.
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, it’s often easy to forget to take care of yourself. This is especially true if there are children involved. Parents often do everything to ensure their kids are coping with the separation, and they forget to look after themselves.
Practising self-care is essential at all stages of divorce (and life). You need to be kind to yourself and recognise what you need to make yourself feel better. Find activities that you enjoy; these can include:
●Listening to music and podcasts
Whatever it is that you enjoy, find the time to do it. If you can, try to find something you may have put on the back burner during your marriage and now have the time to do. Doing this will allow you to see the positives of your situation rather than focusing on the negatives.
One of the best ways to practice self-care is to look after yourself physically. Taking care of your physical health can positively impact your mental health. Try to make good choices about the food you eat and your sleeping schedule and get plenty of exercise.
Compartmentalise Your Divorce
There’s no denying that a divorce is a significant life event. When you’re going through a divorce, it’s challenging to focus on anything else. It’s essential to do everything you can to prevent your feelings about divorce from dominating your life. Give yourself time to think about it and process your emotions but then stop and put it to one side.
This is far easier said than done, but it’s important to do everything you can to take time and start embracing life after divorce. However long you’ve been married, you’ll have got into habits that include your ex-partner, and if you continue with these habits, it’s difficult to separate them from the divorce. To avoid this, try to take up new hobbies and rediscover yourself as an individual rather than part of a couple.
Here are just a few of the things you can do to take your mind off your divorce:
●Spend time with friends and make new ones
●Pursue that long put-off passion.
Get the Support You Need
While there’s plenty you can do to take care of your mental health during a divorce, there’s nothing better than a good support system. Getting the right support system around you is essential when you’re going through a tough time as it helps you discuss things and not bottle up emotions.
Your support system can include a range of people, such as:
Your support system will also include professional help. Your divorce lawyer plays a crucial role in allowing you to move on from the divorce. They will give you support and advice during the proceedings and negotiate the divorce on your behalf. This means that you can focus on your well-being rather than the minutiae of proceedings.
Alongside your legal support, you can also get practical help around the house or with your children, so you have time to focus on healing.