You've spent your entire life reading the fairy tales and watching romantic comedies operas about love and marriage. Then you wake up one day to find all that dead and buried in divorce papers. Whether you initiated it or not, nobody wants to invest in a relationship that ends up in divorce. Your confidence will take a nosedive and you might start doubting your ability to control issues in life.
For most people, divorce is a nightmare. The moment you sign that paper, stress is served to you hot and plenty. If left unchecked, the emotional effect could take a toll on you and lead you down a road of self-destruction. No matter how painful this event could be to you, it's not a death sentence. There is a great life ahead of you waiting if you rise up again. So how do you cope?
Here are 15 ways to cope with divorce stress:
1. Join a Support Group
If you're used to being strong and holding your head up all the time in life, you might feel like seeking help is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, taking the bold step of joining a support group shows that you are strong enough to admit pain and willing to leave it behind you.
Still not sure?
Participating in a support group and finding a therapist to talk to will help you offload the emotional baggage. Sharing your problems with people will help you take if off your chest. You also learn from their experiences, and can take their advice on what worked for them. This will help you to focus on nurturing yourself, and reduce confrontations with your partner, allowing you to move on.
2. Purge the Negative Memories
If the dress he bought you brings tears to your eyes, or the tie she gave you on your birthday makes you want to drown in alcohol, then it's time to let go.
You need to declutter your environment by getting rid of all the items that bring painful memories. You can throw them out or even give them to charity. You just need to stop looking at them every day because it's just a constant reminder of your divorce stress.
It's your life, take control and free yourself so that you can create an environment where peace and joy can grow.
3. Eat Healthy
Ever heard an apple a day, keeps the doctor away? Yes, it does.
Research proves that eating certain foods can reduce your exposure to depression. Stress can steal your appetite and make you lose weight really fast, but not in a good way. Stress-induced weight loss comes with depression, sadness and feelings of exhaustion. It's not healthy at all.
The other side of this coin are emotional eaters. Stress can cause you to overeat in an attempt to numb yourself by overindulging in food. The end result is rapid weight gain and all the negative health conditions that come along with it.
You should be self-aware and resist habits that will worsen your pain by adding you more health and psychological problems. If it helps, the next time you get the urge to eat unhealthy food to deal with your divorce stress, think of it as a challenge. Strive to look even better after your divorce than you did before!
The benefits of exercise can't be stated enough. Science proves that serotonin produced during exercise can help you be more calm, focused and relaxed. Plus, endorphins are also released which helps you feel even happier and like you can take on the world! Sounds like heaven, right?
Playing pity-party is easy, but if you want to deal with the stress of your divorce, you have to get moving. Physical activity will boost your mood and relieve your anger and anxiety. Schedule a workable time and work yourself out of the divorce stress.
5. Keep Your Friends Close
It's very easy to lock yourself in and everyone else out when you're going through a hard time like divorce. You may feel like your friends and family are nagging or don't understand what you're dealing with. Truth is, that's just a feeling. You need to focus and keep them as close as possible.
They will offer you support, a shoulder to lean on and distract you from your constantly thinking about the divorce. The next time your friend asks you out, ditch the divorce face and step out.
When stress kicks in, it’s normal for sleep to go out the door. Your mind can start working overtime dealing the problems that seem urgent. You might find it hard to fall asleep or even schedule a nap. But your body absolutely needs sleep in order to recover and regulate itself.
Stress hormone levels are reduced while you sleep. This reduces your anxiety and increases your ability to handle new situations. It'll also improve your concentration and rejuvenate your energy for a new day.
Oh yea, and sleep will also repair your skin and body, which can boost your self-esteem and confidence as you step back into the dating world.
If you struggle to fall asleep, listen to classical music or read a book. Even if it means forcing yourself to sleep, make it happen.
7. Get Some “Me Time”
Divorce stress can make you feel like everything else in the world is more important than you. Ignore that voice. The truth is, you come first.
Take some time to yourself to process your feelings and pamper yourself. It'll help you discover the power in you to handle everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and let go to filter out the noise and really listen to your own voice.
8. Make Plans for the Future
The pain that comes with divorce can feel like the end of your life. But in reality, it's the beginning of a new chapter. Start doing the things you always wanted to do. Live your dreams, set up your business or even start a charity organization.
Make choices that point towards your future and your new sense of drive will dilute the focus on the divorce.
9. Have Fun
I know, fun and divorce don’t really go together. Do you remember how it felt to laugh and be silly? Laughter is said to be the best medicine for a reason.
It helps you to calm down and lowers your stress levels. Participating in pleasurable activities with those you love will protect you from harboring feelings of stress and resentment.
10. Take Responsibility and Forgive Yourself
The reason why some people get stuck in the vicious cycle of divorce stress is because of denial. Looking inward and being honest will help you to identify your contribution to the divorce and forgive yourself. Everybody makes mistakes, but you don’t have to be a prisoner to your actions. You can choose to rise over your flaws and leave them behind.
This can be a daunting task especially if you have been hiding behind the blame game. Part of the healing process will require you to take off the mask and face your circumstances with a brave face. This will help you to start building healthy relationships and who knows, you could start loving again.
11. Manage Your Expectations
The results of the divorce are beyond your control. Accept that. Thinking about them will only make you more anxious and stressed. The best approach is to ensure that you expect the least and prepare for the worst.
Divorce might not work in your favor. But even If that happens, you should be okay with it and be able to move on instead of dwelling on what you can't change.
12. Financial Management
If you have been a stay at home mom or dad, divorce might expose you to a world that will find you clueless. Divorce can leave you without a penny to your name. But you can get out of the hole.
You could start by looking for a job or taking classes that will help you handle your money the right away to avoid going into debt. It can seem difficult in the beginning, but give yourself time to learn and eventually you'll be fine. Learn to make your own money and become independent.
Here's a helpful video about how to handle your finances after a divorce.
13. Conserve Your Energy
Divorce itself is draining. You should try as much as possible to avoid investing your energy in the wrong things.
It might be tempting to want to please everyone and be the perfect version of yourself. But give yourself a break and don’t try too much to be the perfect mom, the perfect sister or even the prefect divorcee. Save up your energy for healing and moving on.
Writing down your feelings may seem like a cliché, but it's very helpful in helping you to let go and get the feelings out of your chest. You don't have to restrict yourself to writing about sadness and pain.
Go ahead and write down your accomplishments and victories as well. Celebrate yourself even if your biggest achievement is going out for a run. Remember to applaud yourself because the divorce stress won't. You need to take control of your own happiness.
15. Be Patient and Heal
You may wake up to divorce stress instead of breakfast in bed for quite a long time. Don’t worry, give time a chance and allow it to heal your wounds and reposition you on a new life platform.
Teach yourself to forgive your partner and the relationship for not meeting your expectations, but above all, be patient with yourself. Divorce is a major life stressor but eventually, you will be fine.
When it comes to the stressors in life, there is no perfect way to handle it. Divorce can open up your old wounds and expose you to the biggest fears of your life.
You have the power to determine what happens to your life after that. The measure you take will help you rise up above the pain and build a better life. What are you waiting for? Start taking charge, even if it is in the smallest of ways.