Moving Through the Sadness: 3 Ways to Feel Joy During Divorce

By: Jeannie Church, MA-Somatic Psychotherapist
Last Update: October 31, 2016

When going through an intense emotional process like divorce, it’s good to allow ourselves to feel different emotions. Joy, for instance, can provide some needed relief from sadness.

The other day while walking through the park near my house, I noticed a swing set. It seemed like the swings were calling to me. Still glancing back at the swings, I let the thought go and kept walking.

Recalling memories of being on a swing as a young girl, a smile came to my face. I remember feeling the wind in my hair and a tickle in my tummy. I walked a few more steps, then suddenly I stopped and made a u-turn, almost running toward the swings! When I sat on the simple leather seat, as if by magic, all other thoughts disappeared. Then I began to pump my legs to move the swing. I leaned back further and hit longer strides with my swinging. I flew progressively higher. My tummy felt that familiar tickle, the wind was in my hair, and a giggle escaped my throat! Truly, I believe that giggle bubbled up straight from my heart.

The purpose of this blog post is in part to share with you what a great time I had on the swings that day, but we both know it goes a little deeper than that. What I realized was that, after being on the swing, I felt lighter in my body, mind, and spirit. While swinging and giggling, firmly held tension left my body. The tickle and the giggle helped me release more of my sadness – sadness left over from years of struggling with separation and divorce.

The experience of holding sadness can become a heavy weight around the heart. After a while, we don’t realize it's still there – ghost-like remnants repressing feelings of joy and love.

During loss of any kind, one sure way of moving through the sadness is to move your body. All activities are fair game, even swings in the park. Taking a conscious break from certain feelings can provide much needed relief.  

Ways to Connect with the Joy Emotion

1. Time on the Trail

Get yourself hiking or walking in nature. The earth embodies many qualities like strength, certainty, time, and beauty. These qualities are a great support during times of loss. Also, needing to watch your footing and noticing the beauty around you distracts your mind. This provides a big restorative benefit that can help you lighten up.

2. Strength

When you dwell in sadness every day, your body can lose the ability to contract and engage strength and muscles.  Take time to lift some weights, do squats, push-ups...anything to experience your inner and outer strength!

3. Play

Moving in natural, playful ways can open your heart and lift your spirit. If the swing is not calling, what was the most playful thing you did that brought you joy? Go find it and do it!

All that sounds great, but let’s have a little reality check. You might be wondering, how does one even get out of bed with heavy sadness? Never mind getting to the trail, doing a push-up, or playing!

I felt that heaviness every morning for a long time. My intuition and training told me that sadness was an important part of the process and it would not help me to distort or manipulate it. In truly allowing your sadness, it makes other emotions available, like joy.  

There may be days when you choose to take your sadness with you to hike a trail. So consciously bring it with you!  Some days you may choose to dwell in the sadness. Do that! This practice of being with what is opens a gateway for all emotions, not just one.

I know that when I hit the trail there will be an aliveness that shows up instantly. My heart and lungs are injected with an intense breath of fresh air, and that helps to move any stagnating emotions.

As time passes, the sadness about the separation will diminish. Moments like being on a swing, hiking, or being in the beauty of nature can help move the sad energy cobwebs out. Give yourself the gift of restorative joyful emotion – a moment of joy goes a long way to help you heal!

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